Where once she felt that the Harry Potter scribe’s public criticizing of transgender sociopolitical activism was unwarranted and unhelpful, actress Evanna Lynch has come to appreciate J.K. Rowling’s dedication to protecting the rights of biological women.
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Lynch, who portrayed the whimsical Luna Lovegood in Warner Bros.’ live-action film adaptations, first waded into the ongoing discourse against Rowling in 2020 following the author’s criticism of the term ‘people who menstruate’.
Retweeting an article from the “global development agenda”-centric news outlet Devex headlined “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate“, Rowling sarcastically questioned, “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Like clockwork, Rowling’s tweet would subsequently prompt numerous accusations of transphobia to be leveled against her – including one from live-action Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.
Responding to the woman for creating the franchise that defined his career in an essay for the LGBT suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project, the actor declared, “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”
Shortly thereafter, ostensibly feeling the pressure of throngs of Harry Potter fans bearing down on her and demanding she weigh in due to her association with the franchise, Lynch would take to her personal Twitter account to push back against Rowling’s opinions.
Sharing four screenshots of a lengthy iOS Note (full transcripts of which has been publicly provided by the Latin American Harry Potter fansite Potterish), the actress began, “I wanted to stay out of commenting on JKR’s tweets because it feels impossible to address this subject on Twitter but I am so saddened to see trans people feeling abandoned by the HP community so here are my thoughts”.
“I imagine that being trans and learning to accept and love yourself is challenging enough and we as a society should not be adding to that pain,” said Lynch. “Feeling like you don’t fit in or aren’t accepted for who you are are the worst, most lonely feelings a human can experience and I won’t be helping to marginalise trans women and men further.”
“I applaud the immense bravery they show in embracing themselves and think we all should listen to their stories, especially as it is Pride Month,” she continued. “Personally, I don’t think Twitter is the right place to have this very complex conversation and we should be reading articles and memoirs, listening to podcasts and having long-form conversations. I think it’s irresponsible to discuss such a delicate topic over Twitter through fragmented thoughts and I wish Jo wouldn’t.”
“That said, as a friend and admirer of Jo I can’t forget what a generous and loving person she is. I disagree with her opinion that cis-women are the most vulnerable minority in this situation and I think she’s on the wrong side of this debate. But that doesn’t mean she has completely lost her humanity.”
“I know so well what it feels like to find solace and a sense of belonging, a sense of ‘You’re not too weird to fit in here’ from Harry Potter and how important that influence was in helping me accept myself as a young person,” she would later add. “I’m so sorry to any trans people who feel that’s been taken away or that this community is no longer that safe place. But the Harry Potter world/fandom/community is literally made up of millions of people now and I for one will work to make it feel inclusive because trans women are women.”
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But after mulling the topic over for the past three years, it seems Lynch has come to disagree with the emotional knee-jerk reaction of her younger self.
Reflecting on the 2020 kerfuffle during a recent interview with The Telegraph’s Etan Smallman, the actress admitted, “I was very naive when I was dragged into that conversation. I didn’t even know there were two sides.”
“I had a view of, like, good and bad,” she told the UK news outlet. “I do have compassion for both sides of the argument. I know what it was like to be a teenager who hated my body so much I wanted to crawl out of my skin, so I have great compassion for trans people and I don’t want to add to their pain.”
“I understand being too triggered to be able to have a conversation,” Lynch further asserted. “If you put me in a room with one of my doctors who treated me in the past [for my eating disorder], ooh, I’d kick off. Like, I would want to scream and yell names.”
“I do also think it’s important that J.K. Rowling has been amplifying the voices of detransitioners,” the actress then made sure to note. “I had this impulse to go, ‘Let’s all just stop talking about it’, and I think probably I’m a bit braver now about having uncomfortable conversations.”
Bringing their conversation to a close, Lynch recalled how she was surprised to see just how fervent and widespread the various backlashes against Rowling have been, “especially when she wrote her essay [opening up about her history as a domestic violence survivor].”
“I just felt that her character has always been to advocate for the most vulnerable members of society,” concluded Lynch. “The problem is that there’s a disagreement over who’s the most vulnerable. I do wish people would just give her more grace and listen to her.”
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