Brian Cox supports trans rights — but also J.K. Rowling

The Succession star said the notoriously transphobic author is “entitled to her opinion."

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Brian Cox...
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No TERFS Allowed
Originally Published: 

At this point, it’s no secret that J.K. Rowling, author of the now-tainted Harry Potter series, is as transphobic as all get-out. While some celebrities (like Cynthia Nixon and Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe) have spoken out about Rowling’s incessant transphobia, others (like Voldemort actor Ralph Fiennes and, um, Vladimir Putin) have come to her defense. The latest defender to enter the chat: Succession star Brian Cox.

“I don’t like the way she’s been treated, actually,” Cox said during a Jan. 15 appearance on BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, after being asked how he felt about the controversy surrounding Rowling’s anti-trans sentiments. “I think she’s entitled to her opinion; she’s entitled to say what she feels. As a woman, she’s very much entitled to say what she feels about her own body, and there’s nobody better to say that, as a woman. So I do feel people have been a bit high and mighty about their own attitude toward J.K. Rowling, frankly.”

Oh, Brian. Your heart may be in the right place, but in this case, good intentions simply aren’t enough: Women — even women who claim to be “feminists” — can have disgustingly bad, ill-informed opinions too. As far as transgender rights are concerned, there’s an actual term for those people: TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist). J.K. Rowling is one.

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The author has repeatedly spread misinformation, regularly evoking the baseless argument that granting rights to trans people would threaten the safety of cisgender women. She did so last year when fighting a proposed amendment to Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill — the same one that Scottish parliament just recently voted to approve, prompting Cox’s BBC interview questions on the topic, per The Hollywood Reporter.

To be clear, Cox himself doesn’t seem to agree with Rowling’s transphobic sentiments themselves. In fact, he applauded lawmakers for approving the bill that would allow trans people to change their legal gender without requiring a medical diagnosis.

But the actor’s subsequent defense of Rowling shows a gaping hole in his support for the trans community, and a seeming lack of understanding of just how dangerous the author’s rhetoric is. Sure, Rowling may be legally entitled to spew her (bad) opinions, but doing so actively contributes to the oppression of transgender people, who are already four times more likely to be victims of violent crimes than cisgender people, per a study from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute.

It’s dangerous for anyone to express and spread such vitriolic anti-trans speech and hateful views; it’s even more harmful when the commentary comes from public figures with massive platforms, like Rowling. Whether or not he personally supports trans rights; Cox’s defense of someone who doesn’t contributes to that harm.