Congratulations, everybody: We made it half a month before J.K. Rowling’s awful transphobic comments were back in the news! Ah, but good things can never last, so we unfortunately have to talk about J.K. Rowling’s awful transphobic comments again. Sorry, it’s the rules.
Luckily, though, we’re not talking about specific awful transphobic comments this time, we’re talking about another person unnecessarily weighing in on Rowling’s awful transphobic comments with a statement that is largely pointless and doesn’t help anyone. That person is Eddie Redmayne, who stars in the Fantastic Beasts movies (which are spin-offs of the core Harry Potter franchise) and recently told The Daily Mail that he has “trans friends and colleagues” who are “having their human rights challenged around the world and facing discrimination on a daily basis.” And yet… he seems more bothered by the “vitriol” that Rowling has received on social media, saying it has been “absolutely disgusting” and that he felt so bad about how she was being treated that he decided to write her what The Daily Mail calls a “private note.” (Apparently Redmayne is one of those unnamed supporters that Rowling always claims she has on Twitter, writing her secret letters about how she’s totally not transphobic.)
Redmayne considers “insults to trans people on social media” to be “equally disgusting” to how Rowling has been treated, adding that “there continues to be a hideous torrent of abuse towards trans people online and out in the world that is devastating.” It’s some very impressive bothsidesism, suggesting that everyone is equally wrong for how they’re treating each other, but he also seems to have subtly extricated Rowling and her comments from this “equally disgusting” comparison. In other words, then, it seems like the perfect statement for an actor to make, carefully sidestepping any actual stance that could alienate either the people who see his movies or the people who put him in movies (filming has just resumed on Fantastic Beasts 3, naturally), but in the end it won’t actually make anyone happy.
This is all on top of the fact that Redmayne has faced criticism already for playing real-life trans woman Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl (in addition to general criticism about how The Danish Girl handled the story of Lili Elbe, unrelated to Redmayne’s unsuccessfully awards-baiting performance). When you get right down to it, this is a situation—like most times when a famous person decides that another famous person is being unfairly criticized—where Redmayne probably should’ve just said nothing.
If you want to support LGBTQ youth, consider donating to GLSEN, which promotes anti-bullying initiatives and gay-straight alliances in schools nationwide, and The Trevor Project, which operates a confidential hotline staffed by trained counselors who provide crisis-intervention and suicide-prevention services.