On Thursday, Rowling tweeted in defence of the former employee of think-tank Centre for Global Development, who – after taking her case to an employment tribunal – found out she had not been successful in appealing the decision.
Rowling was strongly criticised for her tweet, which she posted to 14.6m followers.
Days later, Gervais tweeted a reply to an article posted by known satire account, @JarvisDupont. The article in question was from news website Spectator USA and was written in a mocking tone from the perspective of a trans woman offended by Rowling’s comments.
Underneath the article, he wrote: “Those awful biological women can never understand what it must be like for you becoming a lovely lady so late in life. They take their girly privileges for granted. Winning at female sports and having their own toilets. Well, enough is enough.”
When others requested that Gervais show some compassion – with one Twitter user telling him that “kindness is magic” – he responded with another comment that sparked anger in social media users.
“Exactly. We need to protect the rights of women. Not erode them because some men have found a new cunning way to dominate and demonise an entire sex,” he wrote.
After one person said he was probably “joking” by sending the tweets, Gervais claimed he was “playing along” with the “spoof account”.
When another tweeter told Gervais to consider the fact that transphobia causes “real harm”, Gervais said: “I do. I also make jokes about AIDS, cancer, famine, and the Holocaust. Those things do a bit of harm too. But jokes don’t. Have a nice day.”
Eventually, when someone asked him to clarify his stance on trans rights, Gervais wrote: “I think trans women are women. I wasn’t talking about trans people.”
Gervais is scheduled to present the Golden Globes on 5 January. A spokesperson for the board behind the ceremony didn't respond to comment.