Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has sparked outrage for suggesting transgender women are not real women.
The feminist author’s argument stems from the idea trans women have been culturally conditioned to be men from birth until the point they decide to transition. Ngozi Adichie believes their male privilege fundamentally sets their experiences apart from non-transgender women.
Appearing on Channel Four earlier in the week, the Nigerian novelist said: “When people talk about, ‘Are trans women women?’ my feeling is trans women are trans women.”
“I think the whole problem of gender in the world is about our experiences,” she said. “It’s not about how we wear our hair or whether we have a vagina or a 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 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.”
Although she insisted that she supports transgender people’s existence, she suggested 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.
The acclaimed writer, who is best known for novel Americanah, was condemned for the remarks on Twitter.
Raquel Willis, a Black queer transgender activist and the communications associate for Transgender Law Center, suggested the author was not in a position to comment on the experiences of trans people as she is not transgender herself.
Chimamanda being asked about trans women is like Lena Dunham being asked about Black women. It doesn't work. We can speak for ourselves.— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) March 11, 2017
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Feels "Trans Women Are Trans Women"— SLAY (@slaytvnetwork) March 10, 2017
Someone come get your fave Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and fix her politics around trans women, please. As in like immediately.— Zoé Samudzi (@ztsamudzi) March 10, 2017
"I've got all the respect in the world for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie but trans women ARE women," said another critic.
Ngozi Adichie addressed the remarks at Women of the World festival this weekend and sought to further explain herself.
“It was then misunderstood by people who felt I was somehow saying that trans women were not part of feminism or not part of women’s issues," she told the audience.
"It’s dishonest and I don’t believe that we should insist on saying that the person who is born female and has experienced life as a woman has the same experiences of somebody who has transitioned as an adult. I don’t think it’s the same thing. I just don’t think it has to be the same thing in order for us to be supportive."
Ngozi Adichie did not immediately respond to request for comment