A Canadian student group has apologized to the transgender community for causing “hurt” after playing Lou Reed’s 1972 classic “Walk on the Wild Side” during a campus event.
The University of Guelph Central Student Association has issued a statement on Facebook, expressing regret because the song contained “hurtful” and “transphobic lyrics,” MRCTV reported.
According to the student group, the song, by Lou Reed, was selected for the 1970s and 1980s playlist out of “ignorance” and was “an error in judgment.”
The group wrote:
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.
The group pledged to be more “mindful” of the songs they will play in the future and suggested students come to meetings where they will “discuss how we can create better playlists in the future” and make them “more inclusive.”
It remains unclear which of the song’s lyrics were deemed offensive, but Reed’s hit tune features the following lines:
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 song mentions “Holly,” who’s based on Holly Woodlawn, a transgender actress who starred in various Andy Warhol movies.
A fellow Guelph University student, Ryan Crozier, commented under the student’s group apology, claiming the song was actually ahead of the times as it promoted transgender acceptance.
“The song is understood to be transphobic because of the lyrics and the sentiments that they support in present day,” the group responded to the student. “The lyrics, ‘and then he was a she,’ devalues the experiences and identities of trans folks.” The lyrics “minimize the experiences of oppression,” it said.
The student association also noted that the song was “problematic” because it dehumanizes and fetishizes transgender people by suggesting they are “wild,” “unusual” or “unnatural.”
“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,” the group added.