John Cleese is being accused of transphobia after doubling down on his support for JK Rowling. The British actor, who played Nearly Headless Nick in the first two Harry Potter movies, tweeted "I'm not that interested in trans folks," Sunday when asked about Rowling's controversial stance. "I just hope they're happy and that people treat them kindly," he said, adding that he was paying more attention to issues including the "threats to democracy in America." In numerous subsequent tweets, however, the 81-year-old continued discussing the issue, despite admitting he only has a "superficial understanding" of it, Variety reports. When a user asked why he can't "just let people be who they want to be," the 81-year-old said: "Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic?"
Cleese, who signed a letter supporting Rowling earlier this year, argued that trans women have an unfair advantage in sport and accused his critics of lacking a sense of humor. "Woke" people, he said, should "fry in their own sanctimoniousness and narcissistic posturing." Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness was among those who pushed back against Cleese's comments, People reports. "You do seem to not only be interested in trans folks, but also adding to transphobia at a time when trans people are being murdered world wide. Trans & non binary people aren’t being treated kindly," he tweeted. In a follow-up tweet to Cleese and Rowling, he said it was "so cruel to constantly punch down onto a marginalized group of people." (In June, Rowling deleted a tweet praising Stephen King after he said "trans women are women.")