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'Desperately sad' that Graham Norton was 'forced off' Twitter after comments supporting trans people, says UK's first trans newsreader
17 October 2022, 19:53 | Updated: 18 October 2022, 17:42
It is "desperately sad" that Graham Norton has deleted his Twitter account after a backlash from his comments in favour of transgender rights, the UK's first trans newsreader has said.
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Beloved chat show host Mr Norton left Twitter after speaking out in support of trans people at a literary festival, leading to critical comments online from JK Rowling, who has long been outspoken on gender issues.
Asked about so-called 'cancel culture' and JK Rowling at Cheltenham Literary Festival, Mr Norton, 59, said: “When I’m asked about it, I become a part of it. My voice adds nothing to that discussion and I’m sort of embarrassed that I’m somehow drawn into it.
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“Talk to trans people, talk the parents of trans kids, talk to doctors, talk to psychiatrists, to someone who can illuminate this in some way."
He added: “I’m very aware that, as a bloke on the telly, your voice can be artificially amplified, and once in a blue moon, that can be good, but most of the time, it’s just a distraction. It’s for clicks…
“If you want to talk about something, talk about the thing, you don’t need to attach a Kardashian or whatever to a subject, the subject should be enough in itself.”
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After singer and left-wing activist Billy Bragg tweeted support for Mr Norton's comments, Harry Potter author Ms Rowling hit out at both men online.
She said: “Very much enjoying the recent spate of bearded men stepping confidently onto their soapboxes to define what a woman is and throw their support behind rape and death threats to those who dare disagree.
“You may mock, but takes real bravery to come out as an Old Testament prophet.”
Mr Norton has since deleted his Twitter account.
India Willoughby, the UK's first transgender newsreader and the co-host of Loose Women spoke out in the wake of his departure, saying it was "desperately sad" that Mr Norton had been "forced off" Twitter.
She said: "Desperately sad that lovely Graham Norton has been forced off Twitter for saying: 'If you want to know about trans, talk to trans people and their families.'"
Mr Norton's fellow comedian Shaparak Khorsandi agreed, saying: "If you think someone as kind, intelligent and gentle as Graham Norton is your enemy, then heaven help you."
It comes after JK Rowling has branded Nicola Sturgeon "the First Feminist" in a war of words over trans rights earlier this month.
Ms Rowling was reacting to the Scottish first minister calling herself "a real feminist", in light of an upcoming bill to make it easier for trans people to be legally recognised as their chosen gender north of the border.