Harry Melling is the latest alum of the “Harry Potter” franchise to speak out against J.K. Rowling‘s divisive views on gender.
During an interview with The Independent, the 33-year-old actor, who played Dudley Dursley in the films, was asked to weigh in on the subject of transgender rights. In recent years, Rowling has been accused of being transphobic.
“The Pale Blue Eye” actor noted that he doesn’t see himself as the “correct spokesperson” for the topic, but shared that he believes it’s “very simple.”
“I can only speak for myself, and what I feel, to me, is very simple, which is that transgender women are women and transgender men are men. Every single person has the right to choose who they are and to identify themselves as what’s true to themselves,” he said.
“I don’t want to join the debate of pointing fingers and saying, ‘That’s right, that’s wrong,’ because I don’t think I’m the correct spokesperson for that,” Melling added. “But I do believe that everybody has the right to choose.”
After her remarks on gender made headlines in June 2020, Rowling publicly defended her comments numerous times, while several “Potter” stars, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, have publicly spoken out against Rowling’s statements.
Radcliffe penned a lengthy essay for The Trevor Project in response to Rowling’s comments mocking a headline that referenced “people who menstruate,” which many found to be transphobic.
“While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honoured to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment,” Radcliffe wrote.
“Transgender women are women,” he continued. “Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”
Radcliffe went on to say that, given the rates of discrimination faced by transgender and nonbinary youth, it’s “clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”
Emma Watson also spoke out in support of her transgender fans at the time, though she did not call out Rowling by name.
“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 said. “I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”
On the other hand, Helena Bonham Carter, who famously portrayed deranged witch Bellatrix Lestrange in the “Harry Potter” franchise, spoke out in support of Rowling in a November profile for The Sunday Times.
“It’s horrendous, a load of bollocks. I think she has been hounded,” Bonham Carter told the outlet. “It’s been taken to the extreme, the judgmentalism of people. She’s allowed her opinion, particularly if she’s suffered abuse.”
“Everybody carries their own history of trauma and forms their opinions from that trauma and you have to respect where people come from and their pain,” Bonham Carter said. “You don’t all have to agree on everything — that would be insane and boring. She’s not meaning it aggressively, she’s just saying something out of her own experience.”
The actress felt that the strong backlash to the author’s comments came from a place of jealousy from Rowling’s critics.
“If she hadn’t been the most phenomenal success, the reaction wouldn’t be so great,” she said. “So I think there’s a lot of envy unfortunately and the need to tear people down that motors a lot of this canceling. And schadenfreude.”
When asked if her co-stars were “ungrateful,” Bonham Carter said, “I won’t say that. Personally I feel they should let her have her opinions, but I think they’re very aware of protecting their own fan base and their generation. It’s hard. One thing with the fame game is that there’s an etiquette that comes with it; I don’t agree with talking about other famous people.”
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