I appreciate award-winning Nigerian author and feminist Chimamanda Adichie’s intellect but don’t always agree with her worldview or perspective on issues. I also sometimes doubt her conviction on the things she says and often feel that she may be unable to withstand the heat and/or rejection of persons who have placed her on a pedestal to be worshiped if and when she deviates from her seemingly politically correct views, that seem to satisfy her core western mainstream audience.
Having said that, on the current so called controversial issue involving her statement that trans women are trans women, not women, I wholeheartedly agree with her. I don’t know if Adichie will back pedal given the politically correct society we live in, especially in America. But I hope that her statement was said with true conviction and that she indeed has the courage, regardless of the backlash, to stand firm in her convictions. I believe that is what is seriously lacking today. The fear and tyranny of the majority have stifled voices, and sadly, many cower in fear.
Now to lay context:
Adichie was interviewed early last week on U.K.’s Channel 4 during her promotion of her new book ‘Dear Ijeawele Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.’ During the interview, she said, “When people talk about, ‘Are trans women women?’ my feeling is trans women are trans women.”
She further clarified her view, “…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 in the world as a woman and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are.”
Adichie stressed that trans women should be “allowed to be,” but added, “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.”
First, again, I agree with Adichie’s premise that trans women are trans women, not women. It’s a very logical point. How is the experience of a trans woman who has lived as a man and then made the decision to live as a woman (albeit through very painful cosmetic surgery), the same as a woman born woman? How is a trans woman’s experience the same as that of a woman who deals with childbirth, menstruation etc.? How is it the same in certain parts of the world with being a child bride or suffering from genital mutilation simply because you are a girl?
Second, do you notice that the conversation and issue about whether a trans woman is a woman, is rarely ever had in the opposite direction? By that I mean it is rare that society at large would engage in a debate on whether trans men are men. But when it comes to women, we are saddled and bear the brunt of having to explain, justify or defend our gender identity, as if we don’t have enough to deal with already.
This debate could take days and there is so much to say but suffice it to say Adichie, in my view, is right and should not have to apologize for her viewpoints or retract her statements.
What’s your take on this issue, do you disagree with Adichie?
Photocredit: Dawani Olatunji
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