JK Rowling says David Tennant is part of ‘gender Taliban’ after trans rights support

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has railed against Doctor Who star David Tennant over his recent comments regarding transgender rights.

Earlier this week, Tennant, who also portrayed Barty Crouch Jr in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was recognized at the British LGBT Awards for his allyship to the community.

During his acceptance speech, Tennant said he was “a little depressed” about being awarded for believing that everyone has the right to “be who they want to be and live their life how they want to live it as long as they’re not hurting anyone else”.

“Because it’s common sense, isn’t it?” he said, before calling out UK Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch, who’s previously said she would shut out trans women from certain spaces.

“However, until we wake up and Kemi Badenoch doesn’t exist anymore – I don’t wish ill of her, I just wish her to shut up – whilst we do live in this world, I am honoured to receive this,” Tennant added.

Badenoch later responded on social media, calling the Scottish actor “a rich, lefty, white male celebrity so blinded by ideology he can’t see the optics of attacking the only Black woman in government by calling publicly for my existence to end.”

Rowling then tweeted a BBC article that characterised Tennant and Badenoch’s public sparring as a “row”, arguing that it’s because Tennant is a part of the “Gender Taliban” that he receives “special dispensation” from the media, “for they are a holy caste”.

In a following post, Rowling shared a screenshot of past comments made by Tennant about transphobic people, in which he said: “It’s a tiny bunch of little whinging f***ers who’re on the wrong side of history and they’ll all go away soon.”

“This man is talking about rape survivors who want female-only care, the nurses currently suing their health trust for making them change in front of a man, girls and women losing sporting opportunities to males and female prisoners incarcerated with convicted sex offenders,” the author added.

The Independent has contacted Tennant’s representative for comment.

Tennant is the latest Harry Potter alum whose pro-trans comments have been criticised by Rowling.

In April, Rowling told Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson to “save their apologies” for “traumatised detransitioners” after the stars made statements in support of transgender rights.

Radcliffe made a rare comment the next month about his deteriorated relationship with Rowling.

“It makes me really sad, ultimately,” he said, “because I do look at the person that I met, the times that we met, and the books that she wrote, and the world that she created, and all of that is to me so deeply empathic.”

Rowling has been met with fierce backlash in recent years over her outspoken stance on trans women, and her claims that trans women “are not women”.

JK Rowling has denied being transphobic, but previously said she would “happily” spend two years in prison for misgendering a transgender person.

This article was amended on 1 July 2024. It previously reported that Ms Rowling had stated she would rather go to jail than refer to a trans person by their preferred pronouns, but she had not said that. She had said: “I’ll happily do two years if the alternative is compelled speech and forced denial of the reality and importance of sex,” in response to a news report suggesting that hypothetical law changes under a Labour government could result in gender-related “aggravated offences” carrying sentences of up to two years.