Recently, noted feminist author, activist, and speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was interviewed on BBC’s Channel 4 about equality and feminism. During the interview she was asked by anchorwoman Cathy Newman to clarify where transsexuals fit on the feminist spectrum.
Cathy Newman: “Does it matter how you’ve arrived at being a woman? I mean for example, if you’re a trans woman who grew up identifying as a man, who grew up enjoying the privileges of being a man, does that take away from becoming a woman? Are you any less of a real woman?”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “So when people talk about, you know, ‘are trans women women,’ my feeling is [that] trans women are trans women. I think that if you have been – if you have lived in the world as a man, with the privileges that the world accords to men, and then, um, sort of change-switch 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 are. I don’t think it’s a good idea to conflate everything into one – 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. What I’m saying is that gender is not biology, gender is sociology.”
Adichie has subsequently found herself under attack on social media for her words. Many third-wave feminists and members of the transgender community feel that her comments are hateful, bigoted, and “transphobic.”
Adichie took to Facebook in order to clarify her remarks. She attempted to placate her critics but also stood her ground on her original point:
“I think the impulse to say that trans women are women just like women born female are women comes from a need to make trans issues mainstream. Because by making them mainstream, we might reduce the many oppressions [sic] they experience.
But it feels disingenuous to me. The intent is a good one but the strategy feels untrue. Diversity does not have to mean division… we do not have to insist, in the name of being supportive, that everything is the same…
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…
I think of feminism as Feminisms. Race and class shape our experience of gender. Sexuality shapes our experience of gender. And so when I say that I think trans women are trans women, it is not to diminish or exclude trans women but to say that we cannot insist – no matter how good our intentions – that they are the same as women born female.
Nor do I think that we need to insist that both are the same.”
I think that Adichie finds herself in a difficult spot. Being generally kind to men who believe that they are actually women is not enough in the modern SJW feminist world. It is simply verboten to suggest that men who claim to be women are anything but women.
I feel sorry for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She’s not used to the hatred and anger that will continue to be directed at her. She may well eventually be shunned like other feminists who’ve questioned the authentic womanhood of men calling themselves transsexuals.
Adichie’s misstep of implying that men are men, even if they fancy themselves to be women, could be quite costly to her in her career as a professional feminist.
Full Disclosure: I’m a member of the evil male patriarchy and do not support granting men the legal right to invade women’s bathrooms, showers, or locker rooms.