Fans Are Pointing Out This Big Difference Between J.K. Rowling and Emma Watson

For millennials in particular, wildly popular Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is nothing short of a cultural icon and literary hero.

But the British author recently came under fire for what many considered to be transphobic tweets. Still, many Harry Potter fans are taking heart in the fact that Emma Watson, another key fixture in the Potterverse, advocates openly for trans rights.

J. K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

J.K. Rowling angered many fans with recent tweets

J.K. Rowling sparked outrage in her recent Twitter comments about Maya Forstater, a former visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development think tank. Forstater’s contract with the think tank was not renewed, in part due to her comments about potential revisions to the Gender Recognition Act regarding self-identification as it relates to gender identity.

According to The Guardian, Forstater’s case, in which she attempted to argue that her ideology was protected speech, was dismissed by a London employment tribunal. Her social media statements about gender identity were deemed “absolutist,” “offensive,” and “exclusionary,” and her release from her contract was upheld by a judge. 

Rowling participated in the #IStandWithMaya campaign on social media, supporting Forstater. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rowling wrote on Twitter, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?” 

She added the hashtags #IStandWithMaya and #ThisIsNotaDrill to voice her support for Forstater.

Many fans said Rowling’s comments were ‘transphobic’

Rowling’s tweet had garnered almost 200,000 likes and nearly 40,000 retweets as of Dec. 22. However, many Harry Potter readers were dismayed to learn of Rowling’s views. 

Bestselling author and LGBTQ advocate Amanda Jette Knox wrote in response to Rowling’s comments, “My daughter, who is trans, is a big fan of yours. It breaks my heart to see you post something indicating that discrimination against her is perfectly fine behaviour for an employee. The world’s most credible medical orgs affirm trans people. Please catch up.” 

Many high-profile celebrities, including Patricia Arquette, responded to Rowling’s tweet as well in support of trans rights. “I do not stand with Maya for many reasons,” Arquette wrote, adding in a second tweet that trans women experienced higher rates of sexual assault than do cis women. 

Mara Wilson, the actor who famously played Matilda as a child, also spoke up against the comments. “What, exactly, is to be gained by using your platform to be cruel and exclusionary to one of the world’s most vulnerable populations?” she wrote in the thread

Emma Watson recently voiced her support for trans rights

Although many Harry Potter lovers were dismayed by Rowling’s comments, others pointed out that someone else in the beloved Potterverse wasn’t so problematic. 

Emma Watson, who famously played Hermione in the Harry Potter films and is now starring as Meg March in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, consistently advocates for feminist and LGBT causes.

Many fans brought up a photo of Watson from Oct. 2018, in which she posed in a shirt that read, “Trans rights are human rights.” Watson tagged Stonewall UK and other organizations for trans and nonbinary rights in her post. 

In the wake of Rowling’s comments, many fans praised Watson for her inclusivity and activism. “Emma Watson [is] one of the best female activists that we can look up to who fights for gender equality, feminism, the LGBTQ community, & racial issues. Absolutely so proud of her,” one Twitter user wrote. Another joked in a now-viral tweet, “Can’t believe Emma Watson wrote Harry Potter.”