J.K. Rowling says comments deemed anti-trans were ‘profoundly’ misunderstood

A red-haired woman with a beaded necklace and earrings poses at a movie premiere.
Author J.K. Rowling arrives at the London premiere of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” 2018.
(Joel C Ryan / Invision / Associated Press)

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, nearly three years after publishing a series of tweets that was widely considered transphobic, is stating in a new podcast that she “never set out to upset anyone.”

“What has interested me in recent years, particularly on social media,” Rowling said in the trailer for the podcast, which debuts Feb. 21, “is when fans say, ‘You’ve ruined your legacy. Oh, you could have been beloved forever, but you chose to say this.’ And I think: ‘You could not have misunderstood me more profoundly.’”

This isn’t the first time Rowling has attempted to clarify sentiments she believes were misunderstood.


In June 2020, she published a lengthy essay on her website titled “J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues.” The essay was not well received and prompted “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” franchise stars Emma Watson and Eddie Redmayne to speak out in solidarity with the transgender community.

“Harry Potter” creator J.K.

May 11, 2015

“Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are,” Watson tweeted. “I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”

The upcoming podcast, “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling,” is produced by the Free Press, the independent media company founded by Bari Weiss. Weiss is the New York Times op-ed writer who resigned from the paper in 2020 with a scathing letter posted online alleging she had been bullied by her colleagues for “Wrongthink.”

The Free Press describes “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling” as an audio documentary that “examines some of the most contentious conflicts of our time through the life and career of the world’s most successful author. In conversation with host Megan Phelps-Roper, J.K. Rowling speaks with unprecedented candor and depth about the controversies surrounding her — from book bans to debates on gender and sex.”

J.K. Rowling, who has repeatedly been called out for anti-trans comments, has been accused of including a transphobic plotline in her new Robert Galbraith book.

Sept. 14, 2020

“The series also examines the forces propelling this moment in history, through interviews with Rowling’s supporters and critics, journalists, historians, clinicians, and more.”

“I never set out to upset anyone,” Rowling says in the podcast trailer. “However, I was not uncomfortable with getting off my pedestal.”


The series is hosted by Phelps-Roper, a former prized daughter of the Westboro Baptist Church, known for its extreme abhorrence of gay people and for picketing at the funerals of fallen soldiers and gay men and at Ground Zero post-9/11.

According to her bio, Phelps-Roper severed her ties to religious extremism in 2012 and has since used her experiences “to work with schools on anti-bullying campaigns, with law enforcement organizations investigating deradicalization, and with tech companies on the intersection of safety, free speech, and the value of dialogue across ideological divides.”

When “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling” begins next week, it can be found on Spotify, Apple Music and most other audio platforms.

On her way out, the New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss accused the publication of unlawful discrimination and a hostile work environment.

July 14, 2020