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.