Harry Melling, who played Harry Potter’s cousin Dudley Dursley in the films based on J.K. Rowling’s books, has joined the chorus of Potterverse actors countering Rowling’s transphobic views.
Melling was asked about the issue in a recent interview with The Independent. “I can only speak for myself, and what I feel, to me, is very simple,” he said, “which is that transgender women are women and transgender men are men. Every single person has the right to choose who they are and to identify themselves as what’s true to themselves. I don’t want to join the debate of pointing fingers and saying, ‘That’s right, that’s wrong,’ because I don’t think I’m the correct spokesperson for that. But I do believe that everybody has the right to choose.”
Rowling has been under fire for transphobia for several years. In December 2019, in support of a woman who had lost her job for expressing anti-trans opinions, Rowling tweeted, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”
She has said she supports trans people’s rights but recently funded a center for survivors of sexual violence that will not serve trans women. Amid that controversy, she tweeted “Merry Terfmas!” to a supporter of hers, TERF being an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
Others who have appeared in the Potter films, such as Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, have pushed back against Rowling’s transphobia. Some, though, including Helena Bonham Carter and the late Robbie Coltrane, have defended Rowling.
Melling is currently on-screen as a young Edgar Allan Poe in The Pale Blue Eye, about a murder investigation at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the 1830s, when Poe really was a cadet there, although the story is otherwise fictional. Christian Bale stars as detective Augustus Landor. The film is in theaters now and will drop Friday on Netflix.