How the 'Harry Potter' Reunion Featured J.K. Rowling Amid Transphobia Controversies

The author of the iconic book series has become a controversial figure in recent years due to transphobic comments.

Harry Potter is one of the most beloved franchises of all time, with millions of fans around the world diving into the magical wizarding world each year, via the books, movies, stage play, theme parks, fan works and more. However, the woman who started it all, author J.K. Rowling, has become a controversial figure in recent years, due to her public remarks on gender and repeated accusations of transphobia against her.

Given Rowling's inextricable link to all things Potter, fans were curious to see if and how the author would be featured in the new Harry Potter reunion special on HBO Max, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts

As it turns out, Rowling does appear in the special, however, it is made clear that, unlike the rest of the film's returning cast and crew, she did not participate in any new interviews for the anniversary, which marks 20 years since the release of the first Harry Potter film. 

Instead, the author is featured in a handful clips -- discussing her take on the film adaptations, the casting of Daniel Radcliffe, and more -- each of which feature titles explaining that the interviews were conducted in 2019, to be part of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour that now takes place at the sound stages in Leavesden, England, where the Harry Potter films were shot.

Radcliffe, who starred as Harry Potter in the eight film adaptations of the bestselling book series spoke out against Rowling in June 2020, penning a lengthy essay for The Trevor Project in response to Rowling's comments mocking a headline which referenced "people who menstruate," which many found to be transphobic.

"While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment," Radcliffe wrote.

"Transgender women are women," he continued. "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 went on to say that, given the rates of discrimination faced by transgender and nonbinary youth, it's "clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm."

Emma Watson also spoke out in support of her transgender fans at the time, though she did not call out Rowling by name. 

"Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are," Watson said. "I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are."

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is streaming now on HBO Max.