Film production company Warner Brothers has doubled its support for author JK Rowling after Harry Potter actor Tom Felton was told not to discuss his past transphobic remarks.
Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in all eight games Harry Potter film series, was on hand to promote the opening of Professor Sprout’s greenhouse at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, a traveling exhibition that simulates the environment of Harry Potter books and movies. The year of the greenhouse’s debut coincides with the 25th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – the first novel in JK Rowling‘s seven-part literary series – was first published in 1997.
During a press junket, Sky News Entertainment reporter Claire Gregory asked Felton what he thought of Rowling taking a ‘back seat’ when it comes to various promotional events related to the Harry Potter universe, but the actor remained silent. A third member of the off-screen team cut intosaying, “Next question, please.”
According Sky NewsFelton would have been told by a third-party PR firm not to discuss Rowling’s absence, due in part to comments the author has made in recent years against transgender rights – particularly the right of trans women to access public housing – and questioning the availability of related treatments at transition for gender dysphoria, especially for affected young female at birth.
In 2019, Rowling publicly tweeted support of Maya Forstater, a former researcher and consultant for the Center for Global Development, who was allegedly fired for adopting so-called ‘gendered’ views on social media, including referring to transgender women as men. Rowling has also opined that sex is “real”, based on biological characteristics at birth and impossible to change, tweeted concerns that the concept of sex will be “erased” and replaced by gender identity, and drew criticism for write a book with a “transvestite serial killer”.
The PR firm involved in Felton’s press conference released a statement for Sky News following Gregory’s refusal to answer the question, writing: “JK Rowling is not related to Warner or Tom Felton, the team felt that was irrelevant to the piece. The company said it was trying to “separate artists from art,” especially in light of Rowling’s much-criticized statements.
Gregory’s question was prompted by Rowling’s conspicuous absence from press events for the Harry Potter Cast Reunion Special broadcast by the HBO Max streaming service and the omission of his name from other documents surrounding the Harry Potter spin-off series Fantastic Beasts.
Warner Brothers has since come to the author’s defense, explaining that the studio – who has a net worth of more than $10 billion – is “proud” to work with “one of the most accomplished storytellers in the world”.
“On Monday, a statement was released by a third-party media agency that appeared contrary to this view,” Warner Brothers wrote. “TThis statement was totally false and Warner Bros. Studio Tour London regrets that this happened as part of a media event that day.
In addition to the tweets that many deemed transphobic, Rowling also write an essay in June 2020 explaining her opposition to the “current trans activism” happening around her, arguing that it was a form of sexism and that we “live through the most misogynistic time I’ve been through.
Several LGBTQ organizations have attributed anti-trans rhetoric similar to Rowling’s choice of words to increased violence against the trans community.
The Global Rights Fund has called out Rowling on her comments and explained why what she says has a negative impact on those in need of support.
“The articles cite high-profile anti-trans figures like JK, Rowling, and obscure transphobic talking points as open-ended questions — a way to ‘problematize’ the issue,” Global Rights Fund author Marianne Mollmann explained in a comment. “AAt some point, we all have to consider the consequences of our words and actions, no matter what we think we mean or how we meant them.
Rowling continues to deny that she is transphobic.
“I respect every trans person’s right to live in a way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” she said. tweeted in 2020. “I would walk with you if you were discriminated against because you are trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being a woman. I don’t think it’s odious to say that.