Stephen Fry defends ‘friendship’ with JK Rowling: ‘I’m sorry that people are upset’

Stephen Fry JK Rowling

Stephen Fry has said that JK Rowling remains “a friend” – but acknowledged the “upset” she has caused with her comments on trans lives.

The actor has long enjoyed a professional relationship with Rowling, narrating the audiobook versions of her Harry Potter series.

He faced backlash when it was announced he would narrate her latest children’s book, The Ickabog, with the news coming after Rowling’s controversial statements on trans lives.

In a new episode of the Jordan P Peterson podcast, host Peterson asked Fry about getting “tangled up” in the controversy and about his feelings towards Rowling.

Fry responded: “Yes, she’s a friend and will remain a friend. But I’m also sorry that people are upset.”

He argued the two feelings are “not incompatible”.

“I don’t have to break links with JK Rowling to say that I have huge sympathy and I endorse the efforts of trans people everywhere to live the lives that they feel they want to lead,” Fry continued.

“And I hate how they are often treated. I recognise the courage it takes.”

In 2019, JK Rowling voiced her support for a woman who pursued legal action to have “gender-critical views” protected under the UK Equalities Act.

The following year, in a June 2020 tweet, Rowling responded to an op-ed that discussed “people who menstruate”. She criticised the phrasing and wrote: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

After widespread criticism, Rowling published her now-infamous “TERF wars” essay, laying out her views on trans lives. She has repeatedly denied allegations that she is transphobic.

Her comments have been widely criticised by fans and even Harry Potter stars. Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Chris Rankin, Eddie Redmayne and Katie Leung all leapt to the defence of trans people after JK Rowling’s statements.