"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," tweets Watson.
Even as J.K. Rowling dug her heels in and doubled down on her recent tweets perceived as anti-transgender with a 3,600 word essay attempting to clarify, more stars from the Harry Potter franchise have spoken out against her stance, including Emma Watson, Eddie Redmayne, Evanna Lynch and Bonnie Wright.
Even the studio behind the blockbuster saga of films, which includes eight "Harry Potter" films and two "Fantastic Beasts" prequel films, with more planned, came forward with a statement after days of pressure from fans online.
"The events in the last several weeks have firmed our resolve as a company to confront difficult societal issues," the company said in a statement received by Deadline. "Warner Bros.' position on inclusiveness is well established, and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture has never been more important to our company and to our audiences around the world."
Talking more specifically about Rowling, without naming her, the statement continued, "We deeply value the work of our storytellers who give so much of themselves in sharing their creations with us all. We recognize our responsibility to foster empathy and advocate understanding of all communities and all people, particularly those we work with and those we reach through our content."
Production on the third "Fantastic Beasts" was already halted in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There was no mention of whether or not the current controversy would impact future work.
Meanwhile, Universal Parks & Resorts, which has seen tremendous success with its Harry Potter-themed attractions in Los Angeles and Orlando, also released a statement in response, saying, "Our core values include diversity, inclusion and respect for all our guests, as well as our team members. Our theme parks are places where people and families of all types are welcome to enjoy their time together. Beyond that, we have no further comment."
In the wake of Rowling's comments -- and this isn't the first time she's faced this particular criticism -- some Potter fans have expressed difficulty with reconciling the franchise they love, which was all about inclusion and acceptance despite your differences, with the message now coming from its creators.
Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, touched on this in his thoughtful response, and the actress who portrayed his future wife, Bonnie Wright, echoed that sentiment in her comments Wednesday night.
She also echoed her on-screen love's words that "trans women are women." It was a phrase repeated by several actors and actresses affiliated with the franchise, including the star of its current iteration, the "Fantastic Beasts" series of films.
"Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself," said Eddie Redmayne in a statement to Variety. "This is an ongoing process."
"As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand," he continued. "I disagree with Jo's comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid."
Redmayne said he would never attempt to speak on behalf of the community, but he knows that his "transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse. They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it's time to let them do so."
"Harry Potter's" Hermione Granger, Emma Watson, came out with her own condemnation of anti-trans sentiments, without mentioning Rowling by name, via her Twitter page. "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," she wrote.
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.
Evanna Lynch, who portrayed Luna Lovegood in the series, was both sympathetic to Rowling while also saying, "I think she's on the wrong side of this debate," In a lengthy response of her own.
In it, she admitted her hesitation to jump into this discussion through the limited Twitter format, and wished that Rowling would not do so, either. Nevertheless, she spoke passionately about the struggles she imagines trans people go through.
"I imagine that being trans and learning to accept and love yourself is challenging enough," she wrote. "We as a society should not be adding to that pain."
She then took on the ugliness she sees in her own Twitter comments, the toxicity and divisiveness of today's "cancel culture" and challenged people to come outside of their "echo chambers" and embrace perspectives different from their own.
Lynch also reiterated that Harry Potter fandom is so much bigger than Rowling, and acknowledged she can't really understand what it is to be transgender but feels that the oppressed "can heal better from this by not carrying the energy of the oppressors forward to bully or hate people on the other side of the debate."
In her lengthy response to the controversy, which only added fuel to the fire, Rowling offered no apologies but rather attempted to clarify her stance as not anti-trans, but rather feminist. She also opened up about her past as a sexual assault and domestic abuse survivor and how that impacts her views on this issue.
"I forgot the first rule of Twitter -- never, ever expect a nuanced conversation -- and reacted to what I felt was degrading language about women," she wrote. "I spoke up about the importance of sex and have been paying the price ever since."
A lot of her issues seem to revolve around a feeling of safety in "single-sex spaces," but by denying trans women inclusion in those spaces, she is denying their womanhood.
Nevertheless, Rowling insists she offers "solidarity and kinship" with trans women, and especially those who have been victimized or murdered.
"I have a visceral sense of the terror in which those trans women will have spent their last seconds on earth, because I too have known moments of blind fear when I realised that the only thing keeping me alive was the shaky self-restraint of my attacker," she wrote.
"I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others, but are vulnerable for all the reasons I've outlined," she continued. "Trans people need and deserve protection."
But it was in following this up that she really appeared to double down on anti-trans sentiments by going down that tired path of arguing that allowing trans people to use the bathroom that coordinates with their identity opens the door to sexual assault in bathrooms.
The language she chose to use didn't help, either.
"I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe," she wrote. "When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he's a woman – and, as I've said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth."
The problem here is that she's not talking about men pretending to be women to gain access to the bathroom for the purpose of assault (which is not a prevalent issue). She said "any man who believes or feels he's a woman," thereby calling trans women "men."
She said that her initial tweets were in response to Scottish gender recognition plans which, as she put it, would mean that "all a man needs to 'become a woman' is to say he's one."
She also discussed concerns about "the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition" and those who subsequently wish to detransition. She, however, does not mention young men who wish to transition in this discussion, those who would become the trans women many see her as failing to acknowledge as women.
"I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who're standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who're reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces," she said.
A space, apparently, where trans women are not welcome.