Stephen Fry refuses to condemn JK Rowling and thinks ‘two sides’ should ‘retreat’

Stephen Fry attends the BFI London Film Festival Luminous Gala at The Londoner Hotel.

Stephen Fry has alienated much of the trans community after saying he doesn’t want to condemn JK Rowling for her views.

The actor said that, despite the author’s views making his trans friends “deeply upset,” he “would wish them both to retreat” in a clip from Roger Bolton’s Beeb Watch podcast on Friday (18 November).

“I’m aware you’re talking about an issue where two sides are very sore and very anxious about their enemies,” he said. “I can’t bear it.

“[Rowling’s] a friend of mine, and I have trans friends and intersex friends who are deeply upset by her. That’s a circle I have to square personally. I’m not going to abandon my friends.”

Fry further said it was not an argument “I want to get involved in,” because it was upsetting for “both sides.”

Rowling has been repeatedly criticised and accused of harbouring anti-trans views for several years and is quite possibly one of the most divisive figures within the so-called trans “debate.”

J.K. Rowling arrives at the "Fantastic Beasts: The Secret of Dumbledore" world premiere at The Royal Festival Hall.

J.K. Rowling arrives at the “Fantastic Beasts: The Secret of Dumbledore” world premiere at The Royal Festival Hall. (Getty)

Her time discussing trans rights has included lambasting supporters of trans charity Mermaids, praising self-proclaimed theocratic fascist Matt Walsh, and has associated with several anti-trans individuals.

But Fry believes that both Rowling’s views and the right for trans people to “live full, accepted lives” are not mutually exclusive.

“I would wish them both to retreat and to consider that it is possible for trans people to live full, accepted lives, according to their terms, in society, and for women to have all the rights and dignities that they demand,” he said. “But it isn’t possible if each side looks on the other as an enemy.”

The trans community criticises Stephen Fry for his comments

In response, several notable members of the trans community and allies admitted to losing “all respect” for Stephen Fry due to the comments.

Trans activist Katy Montgomerie said: “Everything he’s listed there is exactly what JKR wants. He’s just come out as ‘Gender Critical’ but doesn’t want to seem bigoted.”

Advocacy group LGBwiththeT said that, while Fry was “entitled to his opinion,” it believed he was not entitled “to expect us to try and get along with those who have said we don’t exist.”

Journalist India Willoughby echoed the sentiments, saying she was “sick of hearing from idiots who think it’s trans people who are responsible for their own persecution.”

Daniel Radcliffe said it’s ‘important’ to defend trans kids after JK Rowling comments

Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe clarified why he felt it was so important to defend trans people amid JK Rowling’s comments in 2020 in a 1 November 2022 interview with IndieWire.

The reason I felt very, very much as though I needed to say something when I did was because, particularly since finishing Potter, I’ve met so many queer and trans kids and young people who had a huge amount of identification with Potter on that,” he said.

“And so seeing them hurt on that day I was like, I wanted them to know that not everybody in the franchise felt that way. And that was really important.”

Radcliffe wrote a blog post for the LGBTQ+ charity The Trevor Project in 2020 where he said that, while JK Rowling is “unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken,” he felt compelled “to say something at this moment.”

“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional healthcare associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”