Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie suggests trans women and cis women don't have the same experience


The internationally known feminist featured on Beyoncé's "***Flawless" is under fire after remarks she made about transgender women.

In an interview with the U.K.'sChannel 4 News posted Friday, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was asked if being a transgender woman makes you "any less of a real woman."

In her response, Adichie — who's known for her Beyoncé-sampled TEDx Talk "We Should All Be Feminists" and her novel Americanah — said she can't equate transgender women and women because they've had different life experiences:

"I think that trans women are trans women," Adichie said. "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."

People on social media fired back to Adichie, saying there was no need to equate transgender women's experiences with cisgender women's in order to accept them as women.

One of the most robust responses came from activist and transgender woman Raquel Willis, who noted the inherent privilege of forcing women to have certain experiences to qualify as "real women." She also pointed to the extreme misogyny that trans women face, especially given the epidemic of violence that transgender women face in the United States and abroad.

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Raquel Willis responds to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Twitter
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Raquel Willis responds to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Twitter
Chimamanda being asked about trans women is like Lena Dunham being asked about Black women. It doesn't work. We can speak for ourselves.
We know exactly what you mean when you say, “Trans women are trans women,” but can’t simply say, "trans women are women."
When you ostracize and devalue trans women and their womanhood, you are operating as a tool of the patriarchy.
Trans women aren’t saying their experiences are just like cis women, just as queer women don’t claim theirs are just like straight women.
Yes, folks raised as girls are plagued with oppression in a different way than people not raised as girls. No one denies that.
That doesn’t negate threats of violence, harassment or oppression in a patriarchal society – things trans women of any age also face.
This convo falls apart with more and more trans folks coming out at younger ages. It also conveniently leaves out transmasculine folks.
Do we tell a cis woman she’s less of a woman if she says she's never experienced harassment or violence or overt discrimination? No.
Trans women have been hypersexualized in the media, exploited for our bodies, paid less, denied healthcare and told our voices are invalid.
It’s nonsensical and *privileged* to require trans women to experience certain instances of oppression to prove their womanhood.
We don't need public debates on trans women. We need trans women elevated and allowed to speak for themselves.
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Adichie responded on her author page on her Facebook, emphasizing that there is room for transgender women in feminism but sticking to her point that cis women and transgender women do not have the same experiences.

"I do not believe that, say, a person who has lived in the world as a man for 30 years experiences gender in the same way as a person female since birth," Adichie wrote. "To say this is not to exclude trans women from feminism or to suggest that trans issues are not feminist issues or to diminish the violence they experience — a violence that is pure misogyny."

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