Ralph Fiennes ‘can’t understand the vitriol’ toward J.K. Rowling after transphobic comments

Ralph Fiennes, known for his role as Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” films is speaking out in support of J.K. Rowling after the author’s transphobic comments last summer. 

In an interview with The Telegraph published Wednesday, Fiennes says he “can’t understand the vitriol directed at her.”

Rowling made headlines last summer after making multiple posts online that voiced opinions on the trans community. Her comments conflated sex with gender and defended ideas suggesting that changing one’s biological sex threatens her own gender identity. 

“I can understand the heat of an argument, but I find this age of accusation and the need to condemn irrational,” Fiennes said.

Actor Ralph Fiennes defends J.K. Rowling's transphobic comments saying he doesn't "understand the vitriol." (Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS, AFP/Getty Images)

Rowling criticized an article on Twitter last June for including the phrase “people who menstruate” in the headline: language chosen to be more inclusive of people who menstruate but don’t identify as women, and women who don’t and still identify as women.

“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” Rowling tweeted. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” 

‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?

Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate https://t.co/cVpZxG7gaA

Rowling faced backlash and defended herself by saying her life “has been shaped by being female” and argued she still supports transgender people.

Fiennes said of the backlash: “I find the level of hatred that people express about views that differ from theirs, and the violence of language towards others, disturbing.”

In the same interview, the 58-year-old actor offered commentary on freedom of artistic expression. “We need to have those voices that risk being offensive. How sad if we sat on any expressive voice that could shake the scenery, that could get inside us and make us angry and turn us on. I would hate a world where the freedom of that kind of voice is stifled,” he said. 

Among Rowling’s critics following her offensive comments was Daniel Radcliffe who played the title character in the “Harry Potter” movies. He wrote an essay for LGBTQ non-profit organization The Trevor Project criticizing her views and apologizing to fans of the book series. 

“Transgender women are women,” the actor wrote. “It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”

“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you,” he continued. “I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you.”

Contributing: Hannah Yasharoff

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