'Harry Potter' actress Katie Leung responds to J.K. Rowling's comments about trans women

Megan Johnson
·4-min read
Author J.K. Rowling’s series of anti-trans tweets prompted a response from Katie Leung, who starred as Cho Chang in the Harry Potter film series. (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Author J.K. Rowling’s series of anti-trans tweets prompted a response from Katie Leung, who starred as Cho Chang in the Harry Potter film series. (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)

Harry Potter actress Katie Leung is responding to author J.K. Rowling’s series of anti-trans tweets posted to her Twitter account on Saturday afternoon. Rowling received tremendous backlash for her comments, which were sparked over an op-ed piece that referred to “people who menstruate.”

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

“I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth,” she continued, objecting to the idea that biological sex “isn’t real.”

“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” Rowling tweeted. “I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”

Related Video: J.K. Rowling Angers LGBT+ Community

While Leung didn’t specifically call out Rowling’s remarks, which were accused of being transphobic and taking away focus from the Black Lives Matter movement, the actress did make her views on the matter clear by luring in fans by teasing some controversy of her own.

“So, you want my thoughts on Cho Chang?” she tweeted, referring to her character, a witch who attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. “Okay, here goes ... (thread).”

Leung’s tweet instead led to a series of fundraisers, petitions and articles educating readers about the black transgender community — especially timely given the ongoing protests for racial equality and the death of Tony McDade, a black trans man shot by a police officer in Florida last month. At the end of her thread, Leung added the hashtag “#AsiansForBlackLives.”

Harry Potter actress Katie Leung is speaking out for the rights of black trans people following Rowling's controversial remarks. (Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
Harry Potter actress Katie Leung is speaking out for the rights of black trans people following Rowling's controversial remarks. (Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Leung wasn’t the only celebrity to use a Twitter thread to educate followers. Irish actress Nicola Coughlin, who did not appear in the Harry Potter series, also joined in with a similar attention-grabbing tactic, tweeting, “I’ve always had a Harry Potter story I thought I would never tell publicly but I guess, now’s the time (thread).”

Several other big names directly spoke out to condemn Rowling’s statements.

“Word. Goodnight and shut up @jk_rowling,” tweeted actress Sarah Paulson, who retweeted a post calling Rowling “complete scum.”

Actress Jameela Jamil, known for her role on The Good Place, also condemned Rowling’s posts, and encouraged people to donate to a fundraiser for homeless black trans women. Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness also voiced his outrage,

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) released a statement on Saturday on their Twitter page.

“JK Rowling continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans,” they continued. “In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people. We stand with trans youth, especially those Harry Potter fans hurt by her inaccurate and cruel tweets.”

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