Stephen Fry has revealed his trans and intersex friends have been ‘deeply upset by Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s comments on trans people.
The acclaimed writer has in recent years made multiple comments against transgender people, leading to accusations of transphobia, which the author has previously denied.
Many of the stars who appeared in the film franchise, including Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, have spoken out against Rowling’s views, with the Weird Al star saying ‘so many queer and trans kids’ had been ‘hurt” by her comments.
Now Fry, 65, says Rowling is still ‘a friend’ of his, but says his own friends are ‘deeply upset’.
Appearing on Roger Bolton’s Beeb Watch podcast, the actor was asked straight out if he would ever get involved in the ‘debate’ around Rowling and the transgender community.
To which he said: ‘I wouldn’t. I’m aware you’re talking about an issue where two sides are very sore and very anxious about their enemies. I can’t bare it.’
‘She’s still a friend of mine, and I have trans friends and intersex friends, who are deeply upset by her,’ he added.
‘And that’s a circle I have to square personally. I’m not going to abandon my friends.’
Fry insisted Rowling ‘doesn’t want to see trans people bullied, alienated, shut out of society, made to feel ashamed, guilty, laughed at, all those things.’
He added however, that ‘there are people who believe that safe feminine spaces and the idea of the difference between sex and gender is very important.’
The Fry and Laurie icon said it was ‘not an argument I want to get involved in, because it’s upsetting to both sides.’
What he would like to see, he said, was to see both sides ‘consider that it is possible for trans people to live full, accepted lives, according to their terms, in society.
‘And for women to have all the rights and dignities that they demand.’
He said he wished both sides would stop fighting, but ‘it isn’t possible if each side looks on the other as an enemy, and the trans people just shout ‘”TERF” (Trans-exclusive radical feminist) and the feminists just…seem to undermine the dignity and rights of the trans community.’
Elsewhere in the interview, he was asked if he hesitates before speaking these days in fear he would be ‘cancelled,’ but dismissed the idea.
He asked those who were concerned about not being able to speak their mind for fear of backlash: ‘What exactly do you want to say? What is it that you feel you can’t say that you want to?’
The interview comes after Harry Potter star Radcliffe reflected on his initial condemnation on Rowling’s views in a recent interview.
He said: ‘The reason I felt very, very much as though I needed to say something when I did was because, particularly since finishing Potter, I’ve met so many queer and trans kids and young people who had a huge amount of identification with Potter on that.’
‘And so seeing them hurt on that day I was like, I wanted them to know that not everybody in the franchise felt that way. And that was really important,’ the star told IndieWire.
‘The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling,’ he told The New York Times. ‘I mean, I can understand a viewpoint that might be angry at what she says about women. But it’s not some obscene, über-right-wing fascist.
‘It’s just a woman saying, “I’m a woman and I feel I’m a woman and I want to be able to say that I’m a woman.” And I understand where she’s coming from. Even though I’m not a woman.’
Other stars linked to the Harry Potter franchise have also supported her, including Hagrid actor Robbie Coltrane, who died in September aged 72.
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