Robbie Coltrane, who plays the beloved character Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, has defended J.K. Rowling against charges of transphobia, saying her critics are just “waiting to be offended.”
Rowling, author of the Potter books, has been called transphobic for many of her social media comments and blog posts. She has often used language favored by trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs, while claiming to love transgender people.
Last December she expressed support for a British woman who was fired for using anti-trans rhetoric. She has shared essays by TERFs on Twitter, misgendered trans people (accidentally, she said), and questioned their identity, and she recently objected to an article referring to “people who menstruate” instead of women.
“I don’t think what she said was offensive really,” Coltrane told U.K. magazine Radio Times, in an interview that’s not accessible online but was viewed by several other British publications. “I don’t know why but there’s a whole Twitter generation of people who hang around waiting to be offended. They wouldn’t have won the war, would they?”
“That’s me talking like a grumpy old man,” the 70-year-old actor continued, “but you just think, ‘Oh, get over yourself. Wise up, stand up straight and carry on.’” He then said he didn’t want to address the subject further “because of all the hate mail and all that [shit], which I don’t need at my time of life.”
Coltrane, whose character in the Potter films is the gamekeeper and groundskeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, may not consider Rowling’s comments offensive, but plenty of other people have. Daniel Radcliffe, who starred as the titular Potter, wrote an essay for the Trevor Project in June saying, “It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”
Actor Chaz Bono, a trans man, has criticized Rowling, as has Eddie Redmayne, who played a trans character in The Danish Girl. Rowling recently returned an award from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization after the group’s president, Kerry Kennedy, denounced her rhetoric. Staffers at her publishing house, Hachette, have objected to Rowling’s comments as well.
New charges of transphobia against Rowling are emerging with the publication of her latest novel. An early review in the U.K.’s Telegraph of Troubled Blood, out today and written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, said a villain in the book, Dennis Creed, is a “transvestite serial killer.”
But Creed “is not the main villain, nor is he portrayed as trans or even called a ‘transvestite’ by Rowling,” Alison Flood wrote in a Guardian piece published today. She added, “It is, at best, an utterly tone-deaf decision to include an evil man who cross-dresses after months of pain among trans people and their allies. But there is also reason to be wary of any moral outrage stoked by the Telegraph, a paper that generally doesn’t shy away from publishing jeering at the ‘woke crowd,’ or claims that children are ‘put at risk by transgender books,’ or attacks on ‘the trans lobby.’ And we should also be wary of how one review has been reproduced without question by countless newspapers and websites, by journalists who have shown no indication of having read the book themselves.”