Actor Miriam Margolyes has defended J K Rowling and said that the backlash against the Harry Potter author for her transphobic views was “misplaced”.

Margolyes, who played Professor Pomona Sprout in the Harry Potter films, said that she “admired” Rowling, who she said was a “generous woman”.

Trigger Warning: This story discusses transphobic comments, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Margolyes, who is in a relationship with Australian academic Heather Sutherland since 1968, made the comments in an interview with Radio Times. The comments are likely to come as a shock to many of the actor’s LGBTQI fans, who have considered her an icon. 

Backlash Against JK Rowling ‘Misplaced’, Says Actor

Margolyes revealed that when she was a student at Oxford, one of her classmates had shown her their wardrobe full of women’s clothes and said they wanted to transition to a woman. 

“There is a spectrum and people can be anywhere along that,” Margolyes said. “There isn’t one answer to all these trans questions. We all know people who are slightly pansy or a bit butch or whatever you call it.”

Margolyes did not agree with the treatment Rowling was getting for her TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) views.

“But I think the vituperation that JK Rowling has received is misplaced. I don’t know her at all. I admire her as a human being. She’s a generous woman, she’s a brilliant writer.”

The actor seemed to think that there was a simple solution to the issue and that if people were kinder to each other, “a lot of the misery would disappear”.

Margolyes Offers To Mediate Between Emma Watson And J K Rowling

In response to a question about whether she would mediate between Rowling and actor Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, Margolyes said, “I would if anybody asked me.”

Watson, along with her Harry Potter co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint have voiced their support for trans rights and distanced themselves from Rowling. 

“Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are,” Watson had posted on Twitter.

Margolyes, who is the subject of a BBC documentary, had come out with her memoir This Much Is True in September 2021.

Rowling has most recently spoken out against Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender. Rowling has previously said that trans people should be defined by their  “biological sex”. In a 2020 blog post, she asked whether there was a “contagion” fuelled by social media that has led to young people coming out as transgender.

Last month, Rowling had claimed that lesbians were under attack. Rowling attacked UK Labour party leader Keir Starmer for saying that “trans women are women”.

“I don’t think our politicians have the slightest idea how much anger is building among women from all walks of life at the attempts to threaten and intimidate them out of speaking publicly about their own rights, their own bodies, and their own lives,” Rowling tweeted.

She then said: “Innumerable gay people have been in touch with me to say exactly this. Like women, they- especially lesbians- are under attack for not wishing to be redefined and for refusing to use ideological language they find offensive.”

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.


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