“Transwomen are transwomen…Gender is not biology, gender is sociology” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pic.twitter.com/WwYgf4wNPr
— Hi. Watch This! (@HiWatchThis) March 11, 2017
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.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, sister, let me say a few things, starting with there's NO definition of "woman" that excludes our trans- sisters.
— 🐋👾5️⃣2️⃣ ⁷ / #𝗦𝘂𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗪𝗮𝗴𝗣𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗴 (@MarchingHere) March 11, 2017
Someone come get your fave Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and fix her politics around trans women, please. As in like immediately.
— Zoé (@ztsamudzi) March 10, 2017
You're cis. You don't get to decide what is and is not transphobic. It doesn't matter what you think. Stay in your damn lane.
— CANDACE SINCLAIRE (@delafro_) March 11, 2017
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.
Because I have been the subject of much hostility for standing up for LGBTQ rights in Nigeria, I found…
“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.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is right! A transwoman can only ever be a transwoman, never a woman. Cut out the moronic "#transphobic" rants.
— Sagamite (@SagamiteTheGod) March 13, 2017
Chimamanda is right. Trans-women and women have DIFFERENT STRUGGLES. Don't use her words out of context.#ChimamandaNgoziAdichie
— Vëndjii Kandetu (@Vendjihimisa) March 11, 2017
Many defended the “We Should All Be Feminists” author against critics like Willis.