World renown Feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, was asked on a Channel 4 News Program on Friday what she thought of transgender women, and her answer has sparked a firestorm of backlash.
The interviewer questioned the author about feminism and femininity and if it mattered how one arrived as woman, asking if being born a man made someone “less of a woman.”
She indirectly said yes, explaining that women born as women have different experiences than those biologically male.
“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.”
This was enough to light up social media with many criticisms about her response. Her biggest detractor, transgender activist Raquel Willis who tweeted that women are inherently forced to have certain experiences to qualify them as “real” women and, “Chimamanda being asked about trans women is like Lena Dunham being asked about Black women. It doesn’t work. We can speak for ourselves.”
Adichie then posted a lengthy response on her Facebook page, explaining that she is not transphobic as some have claimed, but she is an advocate for women’s rights and that includes trans women.
But she still stands by sentiments she made in the interview:
“A trans woman is a person born male and a person who, before transitioning, was treated as male by the world. Which means that they experienced the privileges that the world accords men. This does not dismiss the pain of gender confusion or the difficult complexities of how they felt living in bodies not their own.”
Continuing on 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.”
One response claims that these views are still transphobic:
“Nah, you really need to stop re-clarifying. Stop speaking for trans women. It’s really not that hard. You cannot be an ally to LGBTQ people and be transphobic. Those are inherently mutually exclusive. Learn from others instead of acting like you know the most about the experiences of trans women.” – Nic Wayara Facebook.
Another stood by the feminist:
“I am a trans woman, a feminist, and I support you 100% Chimamanda! [Hearts emoticon] It isn’t transphobic to acknowledge the simple truth that there are differences between women and transwomen. It’s just being sane and real, and I think it’s necessary voice within feminist discourse that shouldn’t be dismissed out-of-hand.” – Marit Staſstrom Facebook