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Royal Academy of Arts pulls artist’s work after furious backlash over her ‘transphobic views’

Lily Wakefield June 18, 2021
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Artist Jess de Wahls

Artist Jess de Wahls. (AFP via Getty/ TOLGA AKMEN)

Royal Academy of Arts has pulled the work of artist Jess de Wahls from its gift shop after backlash over her “transphobic views”.

Until this week, the gallery stocked embroidered patched designed by de Wahls, but social media users alerted the Royal Academy of Arts to her history of anti-trans comments.

In a 2019 blog post, de Wahls described trans women as “biological males that choose to live as a woman, or believe they actually are women”, claimed that trans kids come out because of a “social incentive”, and compared affirming a trans person’s identity to “facilitating the suicide” of someone with severe depression.

She added that “supporting gender questioning children” meant “neglecting our safeguarding duties and condemning them to an often irreversible medical pathway for life”, and that “proponents of the doctrine” of trans rights were “predominantly groups of biological males threatening actual violence against women, with weapons”.

On Thursday, the Royal Academy issued a statement via Instagram, which read: “Thank you all those for bringing an item in the RA shop by an artist expressing transphobic views to our attention.

“The RA is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and does not knowingly support artists who act in conflict with these values.

“The RA shop previously stocked work by this artist when we were unaware of their stated views, and their work will not be stocked in future.”

The gallery told its followers that it appreciated being “held to account”, and added: “We would like to reiterate that we stand with the LGBT+ community.”

In response, de Wahls took to social media, agreeing with a tweet that declared trans rights activists were the “Westboro Baptist Church of activism”, and calling JK Rowling “amazing” for “standing to be counted for women’s rights”.

Jess de Wahls also posted a link to her 2019 blog post in a tweet, and wrote: “Time to re-share my views. I stand by everything I wrote.”

Related topics: JK Rowling, Royal Academy of Arts, transphobia

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