PODCAST: Jess de Wahls can’t be cancelled

On June 17, Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts published a post on Instagram, saying:

“Thank you to all those for bringing an item in the RA Shop by an artist expressing transphobic views to our attention. We were unaware of the artist’s stated views, and their work will not be stocked in the future. We appreciate you holding us to account on this issue, and we would like to reiterate that we stand with the LGBTQ+ community.”

They were talking about artist Jess de Wahls, a textile artist who explores woman-centered themes (among other things) through embroidery. In 2019, Jess published an essay outlining her concerns about gender identity and its impact on women and girls. Activists accused her of “transphobia,” and demanded the Royal Academy pull her work. They acquiesced, not expecting the blowback that resulted from their decision.

Jess refused to sit down and shut up, and instead spoke out. Thousands defended her, including much of UK media.

I spoke with Jess on Wednesday, June 23rd about her background, her art, and her failed cancellation.

PODCAST: Jess de Wahls can't be cancelled
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.