Feminist Author Adichie Catches Flack for Implying Trans Women Are Not Women, Others Defend Her

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Nigerian feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is catching the public’s wrath after declaring the experiences of trans women are different than women who were born female.

“So, when people talk about ‘Are trans women women?’ my feeling is trans women are trans women,” Adichie said on the UK’s Channel 4 News broadcast Friday, March 10. “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.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing to conflate everything into one.”

The remarks spurred queer transgender activist Raquel Willis to write a lengthy response piece after firing off tweets denouncing Adichie’s comments Friday.

“She stripped trans women of their womanhood,” Willis wrote of Adichie on The Root. “By not being able to simply say, ‘Trans women are women,’ Adichie is categorizing trans women as an ‘other’ from womanhood..”

Several others especially took issue with how Adichie seemed to alienate trans women from womanhood.

The criticism led Adichie to write a point-for-point Facebook post clarifying her remarks, where she stood by her stance that trans women and cis women, people who are born female, do not share the same experiences.

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“Perhaps I should have said trans women are trans women and cis women are cis women and all are women,” Adichie wrote Sunday, March 12. “Except that ‘cis’ is not an organic part of my vocabulary. And would probably not be understood by a majority of people. Because saying ‘trans’ and ‘cis’ acknowledges that there is a distinction between women born female and women who transition, without elevating one or the other, which was my point.”

Adichie, who vowed to continue supporting transgender rights, emphasized that the different way society treats men and women affects their privilege.

“To acknowledge different experiences is to start to move towards more fluid — and, therefore, more honest and true to the real world — conceptions of gender,” she concluded.

Several people agreed with Adichie’s stance.

Many defended the “We Should All Be Feminists” author against critics like Willis.

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