Chimamanda’s comments on trans women are causing quite a storm.
Feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has come under fire following comments she made about trans women during an interview with Channel 4. Adichie is often considered a poster girl for modern feminism, with her TED Talk ‘We should all be feminists’ racking up 3.7 million views, inspiring a sell-out Dior tee and, most famously, appearing on Beyoncé’s track ‘Flawless’ (FYI, Adiche controversially went on to say “Beyoncé’s feminism is not my feminism” in an interview).
Twitter is namely calling Adichie to task for her comments surrounding trans women. “When people talk about, ‘Are trans women women?’ my feeling is trans women are trans women,” she said. “I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man with the privileges that the world accords to men and then sort of change gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning as a woman and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are.”
The comments inspired many on Twitter, including celebrated trans actress Laverne Cox, to criticise Adichie for belittling the trans experience. In a 16-part post Cox wrote “I was talking to my twin brother today about whehter he believes I had male privilege growing up. I was a very feminine child though I was assigned male at birth. My gender was constantly policed. I was told I acted like a girl and was bullied and shamed for that. My femininity did not make me feel privileged.”
“The irony of my life is prior to transition I was called a girl and after I am often called a man,” she continued.
The backlash was so severe the Adichie took to Facebook to clarify her comments with a lengthy post acknowledging the concerns of her critics whilst also justifying her argument further. “Gender is a problem not because of how we look or how we identify or how we feel but because of how the world treats us,” she wrote. “This is not to say that trans women did not undergo difficulties as boys. But they did not undergo those particular difficulties specific to being born female, and this matters because those experiences shape how adult women born female interact with the world.” You can read her whole post here.
A civilized, but passionate debate where both sides respect and acknowledge each other’s opinion is a good thing for moving the cause forward.