Home / Featured / Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Draws Heat For Her Comments About Trans Women

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Draws Heat For Her Comments About Trans Women

Feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has found herself at the center of a controversy over gender identity after comments she made about transgender women during an interview, which can be viewed in the clip below, recently went viral.

Speaking earlier this week with the U.K.’s Channel 4, Adichie, who is promoting her new book, Dear Ijeawele Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, said she can’t equate transgender women and women because they’ve had different life experiences. Her argument appears to stem from her idea that because many trans women have been assigned and raised male from birth until whatever point they decided to transition, she believes the male privilege they may have received fundamentally sets their experiences apart from those of cisgender women.

“I think that trans women are trans women. I think the whole problem of gender in the world is about our experiences. It’s not about how we wear our hair or whether we have a vagina or penis, it’s about the way the world treats us.

“And 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 changed, switched 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 in the world as a woman, and who has not been accorded those privileges that men have.”

While she did also add that she supports transgender people’s existence, saying they should be “allowed to be,” she ultimately asserts that their experiences should not be “conflated” with women’s experiences.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing to talk about women’s issues being exactly the same as the issues of trans women because I don’t think that’s true,” she said.

Adichie, who is perhaps best known for her critically and commercially acclaimed book Americanah and a guest spot on Beyoncé’s track “Flawless,” was almost immediately called out on Twitter for her comments.twee1twee12twee13

Raquel Willis, a Black queer transgender activist and the communications associate for Transgender Law Center, offered an especially thoughtful and nuanced response to Adichie’s comments via a series of tweets she posted on Friday night:twee2twee3twee4
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Pictures (2)

Adichie posted the following comments on her Facebook page on Saturday morning: twee11


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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7 comments

  1. We come to conclusions, every day, about people’s genders without ever seeing their birth certificates, their chromosomes, their genitals, their reproductive systems, their childhood socialisation, or their “legal sex”. There is no such thing as a “real” gender experience! There is only the gender we experience ourselves as.

    It’s like saying a downlow married gay man who finally come out as gay is being seen and called “straight” by folks who knew him as straight because he experienced and enjoyed the straight experience. How very incredulous!

    For every cis-woman who has burned her bra, there’s a man burning to wear one – and not because they think it’ll be fun to wear one. Not every queer person, man or woman accepted their sexuality outrightly. Same goes for Transgenders. Hence their late “experience(s)” of the gender they transition into. Who’s to say they wouldn’t have given everything they had to “experience” the highs and lows of their preferred gender if they’d been given the choice at birth?!

    Transgender women are WOMEN. Don’t categorise them! Don’t put them in a box. Just Don’t!

    THEY. ARE. WOMEN.

    THAT’S ALL!

  2. I think there has been a bit of an overreaction to this whole thing, really

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Do you really expect anything less when what appears to be a divisive comment is made about a minority?

      • I do not see anything divisive about her comments though. She is right when she says both experiences can’t be equated. I don’t think that in anyway excludes transwomen from the ”feminism topic” nor do I think that it makes them ”less woman”..

        Except we want to insists that their issues are now the exact same because of the gender change?

        • shakespeareanwalter

          Her comments, though coming from a good but not properly informed place, arms the average transphobe and refires sentiments against the trans community. It’s like somebody said, the issue of the transgender being understood is still an ongoing process. And as such, comments that come off decisive against them does not help that process.

          • I don’t like the fact that most of the pro-transwomen arguments seem to be from an emotional viewpoint.

            If you were born a man, then you enjoyed the associated privileges, whether you liked it or not. Whether you liked being exempted from kitchen work and/or housekeeping, or not, fact is that you enjoyed this.

            So your experiences are different. Your “feminism” would be different from those who were told from birth to not be too ambitious, or proud, who were taught to “take care of their husband” from childhood; those who never experienced the phallus advantage.

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