Trans-genderism and Virginia Woolf

A partial transcript from Episode 21 of THE ART MOVEMENT. Scroll down to listen to the full radio show.

Regarding the #IStandWithJKRowiling, I should say I’m not a fan of her books. That’s just personal taste, I realize that Harry Potter means a lot to a lot of people.

But in terms of trans-genderism, may I suggest Virginia Woolf instead? Not only was she revolutionary in experimentation with form and content, going against the norm of the novel during the Victorian Era and pioneering the stream of consciousness style of writing. But she was also modern-minded in her exploration of such themes as gender and sexuality in her books.

Actually, Woolf was a lesbian I believe. I’m not entirely sure whether she identified herself as such outright but she reportedly had affairs with women, especially with Vita Sackville West, who was an author herself, a prolific diarist and a garden designer. She also inspired one of Woolf’s most celebrated and modern-minded novels known — Orlando.

If you haven’t read it, it’s difficult to kind of do its narrative justice both in terms of content and form in just a few words. Essentially, it’s the story of Orlando, and it’s a fictional historical biography that spans almost 400 years in the lifetime of the title protagonist. And all throughout the book’s length, the protagonist constantly changes sex.

So, I suppose the novel explores such things as how gender roles are defined within society, confusion about gender and sexuality and all such things. There are a couple of lines that illustrate that, including the opening lines: “He–for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it–was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.”

In another part, Woolf wants us to understand the force of gender roles in her own world and writes: “When the boy, for alas, a boy it must be – no woman could skate with such speed and vigour – swept almost on tiptoe past him, Orlando was ready to tear his hair with vexation that the person was of his own sex, and thus all embraces were out of the question.”

But it’s a wonderful book and I would recommend it, particularly for anyone who is looking for some type of representation or comfort about their own sexuality and gender in classic literature. Sally Potter directed an awesome version of the book in 1992, starring Tilda Swinton, that you can check out in case reading is not your thing.

But as far as I’m concerned, and in terms of how I feel about this whole thing, if you do stand with J.K. Rowling, that’s cool. But I, on the other hand, stand with Virginia Woolf.


#IStandWithJKRowling: My Thoughts

A partial transcript from Episode 21 of THE ART MOVEMENT. Scroll down to listen to the full radio show.

I wanted to share an opinion on a hashtag I saw, which was popular with the interweb. I’m talking about the #IStandWithJKRowling, and it especially referred to her comments about trans women not being real women.

I’m not sure why she has been so vocal and passionate about this issue and I’m all for freedom of speech. I really believe that people should share their views no matter how controversial within a democratic system. But I equally think that said people should be prepared to take whatever backlash results from their statements.

That’s why when Rowling along with other public figures like Margaret Atwood and Noam Chomsky and 150 more people got together and wrote a letter denouncing the “restriction of debate,” I was in favor of it.

It’s also why, I don’t understand how the concept of freedom of speech has been appropriated by the Western World’s alt-right, like I don’t understand how apparently they have appropriated words like boogaloo.

Frankly, what Rowling has been talking about is quite dull to me and I haven’t really explored it fully. I mean, I’m a punk at heart and I just don’t like any types of labels. If it was up to me, if you feel like you’re a woman then you’re a woman. If you feel like you’re a man, then you’re a man. If you feel like you have every gender or no gender, that’s fine.

So, when it comes to the legal systems and human rights, I’m not sure about any of that stuff. But if I was the president of the world, this would be my ethical standpoint on these matters.

As far as the hashtag itself is concerned, while I was born at the right time to grow up with the Harry Potter saga, there was nothing about it that particularly excited me. I tried reading the books and found they just didn’t draw me in. And I even watched the movies but couldn’t get past the first three. It just wasn’t my thing.

Obviously, Rowling is upsetting a lot of her biggest fans with her behavior. Members of the LGBTQ community actually drew on them for a sense of empowerment about who they were. All this, of course, raises the question of once again, whether it is possible to separate the art from the artist.

What I believe is that everyone has a dark side and opinions about life that we disagree with. This includes artists, simply because they are human beings.


Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted and produced by globe-trotting arts presenter Matt Micucci, and features plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.

Listen to episode 21 via one of the players below.

Download the full radio show here.

In this episode:

  • The sound of the planets
  • Trans-genderism and Virginia Woolf
  • Are people reading less?
  • Are tourists harmful to artworks?
  • What Pablo Picasso told the Nazi Gestapo.

and more, plus lots of music.