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Labour MP Rosie Duffield thinks it’s ‘incredibly rude’ Harry Potter stars came out swinging for trans rights

Emma Powys Maurice October 12, 2020
Rosie Duffield Labour MP for Canterbury Speaking at the Jewish Labour Movement Rally Fringe event at the 2019 Labour Party conference. (Nicola Tree/Getty Images) on September 22, 2019 in Brighton, England.

Rosie Duffield Labour MP for Canterbury Speaking at the Jewish Labour Movement Rally Fringe event at the 2019 Labour Party conference. (Nicola Tree/Getty Images) on September 22, 2019 in Brighton, England.

Months after issuing a grovelling apology for her comments on trans people, Labour’s Rosie Duffield has escalated tensions in a troubling interview with The Times.

The Canterbury MP, who recently insisted that she had “always” supported trans rights and had been “hurt greatly” by the accusations of transphobia, has now plunged straight back into the debate by condemning the criticism as “base, pure misogyny”.

Duffield again denied she was anti-trans and claimed she believes “everyone has the right to express themselves” before rebuking Harry Potter stars for expressing their disagreement with JK Rowling.

“I think they’re incredibly rude to dismiss a woman who basically gave them a career through her creativity – to dismiss her rather than just explain their point of view, or say, ‘It’s OK we disagree,'” she said in what The Times described as “scathing” tones.

“All these RIP JK Rowling hashtags, how disgusting. There’s never an excuse for that, it’s not OK.”

While threatening hashtags are indeed inexcusable, none were used by any of the Harry Potter stars who objected to Rowling’s comments, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Evanna Lynch, Eddie Redmayne and Katie Leung.

Rather than simply “dismissing” the author, several did in fact use their social media platforms to explain their points of view, with Daniel Radcliffe issuing a lengthy statement in coordination with LGBT+ charity The Trevor Project.

Continuing her criticism, the MP raised the common anti-trans refrain that trans acceptance is “erasing” LGB people and that children are being “forced” into trans identities due to their choice in toys or clothing – a damaging misconception that has been repeatedly rebuffed by the children’s charity Mermaids.

“We don’t want loads of people in that situation where they feel they were pressurised into something instead of just being allowed to just express themselves,” she said.

Rosie Duffield: ‘All people need to do to attack me at the moment is be male and misogynist and angry.’

Duffield went on to speak at length about the criticism she faced earlier this year in a heated online row about who can get cervical cancer.

Casting doubt on the sincerity of the apology she previously issued, she likened the backlash against her to a “witch hunt”, adding: “It very much feels as though the stake is built as soon as there is even the mere hint of any charges. A word like ‘transphobe’ gets spread around without any actual evidence and the fire is lit.”

She suggested that Labour leader Keir Starmer “doesn’t want to shine too much light” on what she perceives as a threat to women’s rights, but felt the need to speak up in the pages of a national newspaper because women are being “silenced”.

“All people need to do to attack me at the moment is be male and misogynist and angry,” she said. “Once you’re labelled a thing, that’s it. People attribute certain things to you… and actually I’m not sure they are bothered what I think. It’s just a vehicle to attack women in public.

“I feel like my female mouth is being well and truly closed without ever actually having been opened.”

Recalling a recent occasion when she walked through parliament wearing a mask, Duffield drew comparisons to Margaret Atwood‘s novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

“I thought, ‘This is a bit symbolic. I feel like I’m being shut up,’ and it was really horrible,” she said. “It does feel like Gilead, where women aren’t allowed to ask questions or proffer alternative ideas. The shutting down of ideas is particularly dystopian.”

It may surprise Rosie Duffield to learn that Margaret Atwood has firmly and repeatedly expressed her support for trans rights, and that ‘gender critical’ feminists are unlikely to be the heroes of a story about a totalitarian society governed by fierce biological determinism.

More: Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Labour, margaret atwood, rosie duffield, The Handmaid's Tale, transphobia

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