Transformer

Student group sorry for playing “transphobic” Lou Reed song “Walk on the Wild Side”

It’s a story that’s collectively inspired groans and eye-rolls since it was first published on May 17: After playing Lou Reed’s stone-cold 1972 classic “Walk on the Wild Side,” a Canadian student group issued a formal apology to the transgender community for apparently causing “hurt.”

The statement, written by The University of Guelph Central Student Association, said it regretted ever using the song since hearing that it was full of “hurtful,” “transphobic lyrics.”

As MRCTV reports, they ultimately called their decision to use the song one made in “ignorance”; “an error in judgement.”

The song was chosen for a playlist with a 70s and 80s theme:

It’s come to our attention that the playlist we had on during bus pass distribution on Thursday contained a song with transphobic lyrics (Lou Reed, Take a Walk on the Wild Side). The playlist was compiled by one of the Executives with the intent of feeling like a road trip from the 70s and 80s. The song was included solely on those terms and made in ignorance as the person making the list did not know or understand the lyrics.

We now know the lyrics to this song are hurtful to our friends in the trans community and we’d like to unreservedly apologize for this error in judgement.

Related: The entire Internet comes for ‘Bachelorette’ d-bag after he makes transphobic “joke”

The group says they’ll be more “mindful” — eep — of what songs they play in the future, inviting students to attend meetings to “discuss how we can create better playlists in the future” to make them “more inclusive.”

As pretty much everyone knows, the lyrics include:

Holly came from Miami F.L.A. /

Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A. /

Plucked her eyebrows on the way, /

Shaved her legs and then he was a she. /

She said, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.” /

Said, “Hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.”

The lyrics are based on transgender Warhol star Holly Woodlawn.

Student Ryan Crozier bravely soldiered through the morass of ill-advised political correctness armed with a sense of musical history, remarking that the song actually promoted transgender acceptance and visibility.

The group didn’t accept that:

“The song is understood to be transphobic because of the lyrics and the sentiments that they support in present day.

The lyrics, ‘and then he was a she,’ devalues the experiences and identities of trans folks.”

The group also says the lyrics “minimize the experiences of oppression,” suggesting the song is “problematic” since it suggests transgender people are “wild.”

“While we acknowledge that the song was written with certain purpose and intention, we would also emphasize that media is not always consumed in the ways that it was intended.”

Twitter denizens had plenty to say about the group’s decision: 

According to The Guardianseveral of Lou Reed’s friends have spoken out about the group’s apology, calling it ridiculous.

“Lou was open about his complete acceptance of all creatures of the night,” says Jenni Muldaur. “That’s what that song’s about. Everyone doing their thing, taking a walk on the wild side. I can’t imagine how anyone could conceive of that. The album was called Transformer. What do they think it’s about?”

Reed’s longtime producer Hal Willner told The Guardian:

“I don’t know if Lou would be cracking up about this or crying because it’s just too stupid. The song was a love song to all the people he knew and to New York City by a man who supported the community and the city his whole life.”

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41 Comments

  • pudman56

    GMAFBreak. I’m gay. Okay, not trans, but lived my life in a non mainstream society. I am also a huge fan of Lou Reed. Anyone who can view this song as transphobic is simply omniphobic or whatever term one could use for being afraid of anything and everything including their own shadows. It’s one of the best songs ever. To any who consider this song and/or Lou Reed transphobic, it’s time for you to crawl back under your rock and stop trolling. It’s obvious you know nothing about Lou Reed and unfortunately didn’t live through that great part of the 1970’s which included largely of gender crossing David Bowie. I suppose he was transphobic also. Yeah, I’m really irritated by this one.

  • Dick Gozinia

    That is a classic song that celebrates transgender people – it does not demean them – in the 1970s it was how many people first learned about cross dressing.

    • 1EqualityUSA

      then you’ll be “obi”

    • IDoNotHaveToAgreeWithYou

      Yes drop it. They do nothing but drag us down.

    • 1EqualityUSA

      then you’ll be, “IDoNoHaveoAgreeWihYou”

    • jiminusa

      Agreed. Drop the T.

    • Mo Bro

      Yeah, go ahead and drop the T and see what happens in the eyes of the public . . . then WE will be labeled oppressors of the precious trans community who’re driving them to suicide by our rejection.

    • Tobi

      @1EqualityUSA – Oi, that’s Miss Kenobi to you. ;)

    • 1EqualityUSA

      It’s too late; we will wear the “T” forever, a string of pearls around our necks (forever). The bigots see no difference, as we are all one big blob o’ queer in their narrowly focused orbs. Leave no one behind on the battlefield.

  • KaiserVonScheiss

    Good God. People just want something to be offended about.

    Don’t transwomen start off as male and transition to female? Isn’t that what TRANS refers to?

    I’m not a hardcore Lou Reed fan, but this song is an absolute favourite.

  • Terrycloth

    How come black girls / women are up in arms too..the line in the song that goes
    “And the colored girls go do dodo do do…etc…strip part the song..everyone’s offfended..it’s catchy a great groove ..half of today’s lyrics you can’t understand or make little sense…just stop enjoy the song…maybe the Kinks Lola is next…really?

    • radiooutmike

      I was thinking this exact thought. Transphobic but not mention racism?

  • JaredMacBride

    Would they apologize for playing “Lola”?

  • Richard 55

    There is no such thing as trans. It’s make-believe.

    • scotshot

      Just as you are Richard 55.

    • Mo Bro

      It’s an identity crisis that falls under the umbrella of mental illness, not “fabulous trailblazer.” I suspect the craze will eventually die down, along with other identity fads.

  • Donston

    First, just because you have dated/have had sex with a certain type of person doesn’t mean you have respect for that type of person. Secondly, there’s nothing trans-phobic about the song from a 70’s or a modern perspective.

  • scotshot

    Why can’t you pull the trigger when you aim the gun and possibly hit the target? It only takes a second. Give all of us fag pussies a break.

  • Chris

    I remember that song and, as best as I could tell back then, it was about acceptance, trying new things out, and challenging our own fears. Looking back at that song now, I can see how it could be seen as trading in stereotypes and more-than-a-but insulting when seen from today’s more evolved perspectives.

    • scotshot

      Every single person in the song are real people – some are here and many gone. There was never a word from them or from their audience that the song was offensive or demeaning or hurtful. It’s a classic. Walk away from the song.

  • scotshot

    When this song was released in that era all my friends were excited that they were playing music about US on the radio. There is nothing “phobic” about trans, black, white, gay and certainly nothing wrong about giving head.

    Today certain snowflakes believe they own the definition and set the “rules” of anything trans.

    This is Tedious and maybe it’s time you just STFU in public and comeback when you’ve solved your difficulties with pronouns. There are very serious events occurring which affect us as group and every American living today and we are stuck listening to this bullshit 7 days a week.

  • Mo Bro

    Another example of political correctness being a very hungry snake swallowing its own tail.

  • Spirittat

    Personally, I think we’re missing the point here: I think their comments were sarcasm – throwing “back” in our collective faces sensitivity to others’ situations … as it sounds to them. This worries me more than that they might be idiots … But it ALSO gives us a place from which to go in order to assist miscommunication …

  • PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID

    Oh *now* people are waking up to this totalitarian-groupthink fückery when it mildly inconveniences your playlists

  • jcoberkrom

    Lou Reed was a man ahead of his time. Some people just want to be offended! If we look at this song in the context of it’s time it is; groundbreaking, informing, and played a huge role in bringing about awareness and acceptance.
    These critics will next be offended by the term “colored” in NAACP!
    Erasing history is not changing it and is dangerous.

  • Rebecca Juro

    I wish people would grow the fuck up. The song was written in 1972. I probably heard it for the first time about a year later, when I was 11. It was the first time I’d ever heard any song or anything at all, that even made reference to the idea that a male-born person could live as female. There was no one saying that it didn’t measure up to PC standards (which of course didn’t exist at the time), it was just thrilling to know that it was something people did, that it was possible. Understanding that may have saved my life.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    “The lyrics, ‘and then he was a she,’ devalues the experiences and identities of trans folks.”

    Um, isn’t that how it works?

    It would make for a very clunky song to say “and then he underwent gender reassignment surgery (but we can’t tell you about the specifics of genitalia because that would be prurient and offensive) and then after her testosterone got to extremely low levels she no longer had a sense of humor.” Even Leonard Cohen couldn’t have done much with that.

    • 1EqualityUSA

      hahahha! good one.

    • Chris

      ROFL!!!!

  • barkomatic

    This authoritarian censorship to protect the unreasonable and extreme sensitivities of a small vocal group threatens the freedom of expression of the majority. I’d be willing to bet most trans people wouldn’t be offended by those lyrics, but it’s a always the extremist fringe that controls the narrative.

    Convening a committee to create a “sensitive” playlist is utterly pathetic.

    • IDoNotHaveToAgreeWithYou

      It’s the majority that is letting the loud mouths control the narrative, so blames right back in their court.

    • Giancarlo85

      Oh it is Idonthaveabrain so I kiss the boots of the right wing terrorists like Trump.

    • Giancarlo86

      BY THE WAY, STOP PRETENDING TO BE ME.

  • DCguy

    Lady Bunny put it pretty clearly.

    “Holly Woodlawn is spinnin (sp) in her grave. PC Students think Lou Reed’s song, which mentions trans pioneers is hurtful”

  • Giancarlo85

    Says the drug addict, oxyloser. Dishonorably discharged.

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