Actor Ralf Little demonstrates why someone as influential as JK Rowling spouting anti-trans views can be conflicting for allies

Reiss Smith June 9, 2020
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Ralf Little and JK Rowling

Ralf Little said he strongly opposes JK Rowling's stance on trans rights, but felt conflicted about amplifying her opinions on 'more palatable' subjects. (Getty)

Actor Ralf Little demonstrated in real time how complicated the situation around JK Rowling and her views on trans rights is proving for some.

JK Rowling sparked fury and upset late Saturday night (June 6) when she fired off a string of tweets about trans people to her 14.5 million followers.

The Harry Potter author ridiculed trans-inclusive language around periods and parroted two commonly-heard arguments against trans rights: that “if sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction… [and] the lived reality of women globally is erased”.

Despite her claims to “respect ever trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic to them”, her words were met with anger and upset from trans and other LGBT+ people outraged that she had used her massive platform to target the transgender community while claiming to speak on behalf of queer people.

The discourse that has followed has been largely black and white: on one side, there are calls from many LGBT+ folk and allies for Rowling to be “cancelled” completely, on the other is the vocal “gender critical” movement and its kind who are supporting the author gleefully.

Ralf Little waded in to the grey area that exists in between, demonstrating that for the many who have grown up with Rowling as a huge influence, her newly-emboldened stance on trans rights can be difficult to navigate.

Ralf Little was criticised for retweeted JK Rowling.

The actor, best-known for the BBC sitcoms The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, has previously shown his support for Rowling on certain political topics. As recently as May 24 he quote-tweeted the author criticising Boris Johnson over the Dominic Cummings fiasco, adding: “JKR is absolutely right, of course.”

At the weekend he was criticised by pro-trans voices, who accused him of “hypocrisy” after he tweeted in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“You can’t pick and choose which hate is OK and which isn’t” he was told.

Writing on Sunday night (June 7), Little responded to this criticism by claiming that he “hadn’t actually known anything about her stance on trans issues until today”.

“As it happens, I don’t agree with her opinions on trans right,” he said, explaining that he considers himself a vocal trans ally, and has previously receiving “thousands of venomous and vitriolic tweets” for defending trans rights.

When he learned of her opinions, Little argued that his own support for trans rights didn’t preclude him from agreeing with Rowling on other topics.

“I’m not convinced that a person’s opinion on one matter discounts all their opinions on other matters,” he explained.

“If she she was always spouting horrible right-wing propaganda I’d denounce her as loudly as I could. But she’s not.

“I’m not going to boycott Harry Potter because a woman whose opinions I otherwise admire holds one that I disagree with (albeit strongly). Human beings are complex, and cancel culture reduces people down to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ with no in between.”

Little underlined that he “truly” opposes Rowling’s opinions on trans rights, but caveated: “Not sure I – a cis white male – have a right to tell her how she ‘should’ feel as a cis woman.

“All I know is trans rights matter.”

Actor reflects that ‘it’s important to take a stand’.

The following day, Little returned to Twitter having “changed his position” after researching the topics at hand and speaking with others.

“On reflection I now agree that it is important to take a stand if you believe someone’s output to be problematic, and that includes not retweeting things on other subjects that you may find more palatable,” he said.

On Tuesday (June 9), Little deleted the entire thread after discovering the account which had first called him out had itself been retweeting content “from known antisemitic” accounts.

“I’m only interested in these discussions if they’re in good faith,” he said. “So this is me drawing a line under all of it, for now at least.”

Little’s inner conflict echoes that aluded to by Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.

Radcliffe responded to Rowling’s comments by leaping into a staunch defence of trans people Tuesday morning (June 9), emphatically stating that “trans women are women” in a blog for the Trevor Project.

The actor started his post by acknowledging that Rowling is “unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken”, adding that he didn’t want his words to be branded “in-fighting between JK Rowling and myself”.

“That is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now,” he added.

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