'Harry Potter' Actress Evanna Lynch Weighs in on J.K. Rowling Backlash: 'Give Her More Grace'

"I have great compassion for trans people, and I don't want to add to their pain," said Evanna Lynch

Evanna Lynch, J.K. Rowling
Photo: John Lamparski/Getty, Mike Marsland/WireImage

Evanna Lynch, who starred as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films, is sharing her perspective on the backlash surrounding J.K. Rowling's controversial views on gender.

Rowling, 57, came under fire in June 2020 when she appeared to support anti-transgender sentiments in a series of tweets. Though she denied that her views on feminism are transphobic, she doubled down on her controversial standpoints in a lengthy essay shared on her website days later.

At the time, Lynch spoke out and said in since-deleted tweets that "as a friend and admirer of [Rowling] I can't forget what a generous and loving person she is…she is still fighting for vulnerable people. I disagree with her opinion that cis-women are the most vulnerable minority in this situation and I think she's on the wrong side of this debate. But that doesn't mean she has completely lost her humanity."

The Dancing with the Stars alum, 31, said in an interview with The Telegraph last week that she "was very naive when I was dragged into that conversation."

"I didn't even know there were two sides. I had a view of, like, 'good and bad.' I do have compassion for both sides of the argument. I know what it was like to be a teenager who hated my body so much I wanted to crawl out of my skin, so I have great compassion for trans people, and I don't want to add to their pain," said Lynch.

She added, "I just felt that her character has always been to advocate for the most vulnerable members of society. The problem is that there's a disagreement over who's the most vulnerable. I do wish people would just give her more grace and listen to her."

Evanna Lynch (L) and J.K. Rowling attend the Lumos fundraising event hosted by J.K. Rowling at The Warner Bros. Harry Potter Tour on November 9, 2013 in London, England.
Evanna Lynch and J.K. Rowling in 2013. David M. Benett/Getty

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Prior to landing the part of Luna in 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix after an open casting call, Lynch became pen pals with Rowling after writing a letter to the author explaining how the Potter books helped her while she struggled with an eating disorder as a child.

"I started writing to J.K. Rowling and she wrote back and we became pen friends after that. I was in and out of hospital and I would be getting these letters," she said on Dancing with the Stars back in 2018.

Reflecting on the dark period of her life, Lynch added that Rowling's "books and her kindness really made me want to live again." Lynch added, clarifying that Rowling had no part in her casting, "Being in Harry Potter changed my life because it proved to me that I could do something, that I had something to offer the world."

Potter actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint each spoke out against Rowling's much-criticized remarks regarding the transgender community. Radcliffe, 33, stated definitively in a previous essay for The Trevor Project that "transgender women are women."

"Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I," Radcliffe wrote at the time.

"According to The Trevor Project, 78 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity," he added. "It's clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm."

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Responding to backlash back in June 2020, Rowling wrote that she refuses to "bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode 'woman' as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it."

In the recently released podcast series The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, the author spoke out, saying, "I never set out to upset anyone. However, I was not uncomfortable with getting off my pedestal and what has interested me over the last 10 years and certainly the last few years, the last two, three years, particularly on social media … '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.' "

About the situation surrounding Rowling, Lynch told PEOPLE back in May 2021 that she was "still figuring that out, to be honest" and "it makes me sad what's happened." She added of feeling conflicted at the time, "It's an upsetting topic."

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