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Author Topic: Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Under Fire For Comments About Trans Women  (Read 17266 times)
Posts: 1788


« on: March 12, 2017, 07:20:36 AM »

Chimamanda Adichie Just Said Trans Women Are Not Real Women

Feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has found herself at the center of a controversy over gender identity after comments she made about transgender women during an interview, which can be viewed in the clip above, recently went viral.

Speaking earlier this week with the U.K.’s Channel 4, Adichie, who is promoting her new book Dear Ijeawele Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, said, “When people talk about, ‘Are trans women women?’ my feeling is trans women are trans women.”

Her argument appears to stem from her idea that because many trans women have been assigned and raised male from birth until whatever point they decided to transition, she believes the male privilege they may have received fundamentally sets their experiences apart from those of cisgender 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.”

While she did also add that she supports transgender people’s existence, saying they should be “allowed to be,” she ultimately asserts that 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.

Adichie, who is perhaps best known for her critically and commercially acclaimed book Americanah and a guest spot on Beyoncé’s track “Flawless,” was almost immediately called out on Twitter for her comments.

Posts: 533

« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2017, 04:09:54 PM »

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on transgender row: 'I have nothing to apologise for'

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian novelist and feminist, has condemned a “language orthodoxy” on the political left after she endured a vitriolic backlash over comments about transgender women.

The author of Half of a Yellow Sun plunged into a row about identity politics when she suggested in an interview last week that the experiences of transgender women, who she said are born with the privileges the world accords to men, are distinct from those of women born female. She was criticised for implying that trans women are not “real women”.

But Adichie defended her comments during a public appearance in Washington on Monday night. “This is fundamentally about language orthodoxy,” she told a sellout event organised by the bookshop Politics & Prose. “There’s a part of me that resists this sort of thing because I don’t think it’s helpful to insist that unless you want to use the exact language I want you to use, I will not listen to what you’re saying.

“From the very beginning, I think it’s been quite clear that there’s no way I could possibly say that trans women are not women. It’s the sort of thing to me that’s obvious, so I start from that obvious premise. Of course they are women but in talking about feminism and gender and all of that, it’s important for us to acknowledge the differences in experence of gender. That’s really what my point is.”

The controversy erupted after a Channel 4 interview broadcast on 10 March in which Adichie argued gender is about experiences, not anatomy, and a person who has lived as a man – with the privileges according by society to men – before transitioning has experiences that cannot be equated with those of someone born female. In the face of a number of angry responses, Adichie followed up with a Facebook post on 12 March but described it as a clarification rather than an apology.

“I didn’t apologise because I don’t think I have anything to apologise for,” she said on Monday. “What’s interesting to me is this is in many ways about language and I think it also illustrates the less pleasant aspects of the American left, that there sometimes is a kind of language orthodoxy that you’re supposed to participate in, and when you don’t there’s a kind of backlash that gets very personal and very hostile and very closed to debate.

“Had I said, ‘a cis woman is a cis woman, and a trans woman is a trans woman’, I don’t think I would get all the crap that I’m getting, but that’s actually really what I was saying.

“But because ‘cis’ is not a part of my vocabulary – it just isn’t – it really becomes about language and the reason I find that troubling is to insist that you have to speak in a certain way and use certain expressions, otherwise we cannot have a conversation, can close up debate. And if we can’t have conversations, we can’t have progress.”

Adichie distanced herself from academic feminism and said her new book, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, is careful to avoid jargon. “I don’t really partake in that kind of language orthodoxy and there’s a part of me that really resists it. So I resist to be coopted into it.”

A campaigner for LGBTQ rights in Nigeria, Adichie is a star of the progressive left and not accustomed to finding herself on the receiving end of its ire. She said: “It was unpleasant, and I think it was unpleasant not because of the sort of criticism and vitriol and hostility – which I’m used to, because I think if you make the choice to label yourself feminist publicly it just comes with the baggage – but in this case it came from my tribe, my tribe being women who believe in equality.

“But really, my position remains: I think gender is about what we experience, gender is about how the world treats us, and I think a lot of the outrage and anger comes from the idea that in order to be inclusive, we sometimes have to deny difference. I think that because human difference for so long, in all its various forms, has been the root of so much oppression, sometimes there’s the impulse to say let’s deny the difference, as though by wishing away the difference we can then wish away the oppression.”

This echoes over-optimistic claims of a post-racial society, the award-winning author continued. “In some ways it’s like the idea of colour-blindness, which is, I think, just a really hollow idea that if we say we don’t see colour, then somehow all the oppressions will disappear. That’s not the case …

“I think there were people who felt I was somehow making a point about the Oppression Olympics: you haven’t suffered enough. It’s not at all that. It’s simply to see that if we can acknowledge there are differences, then we can better honestly talk about things.”

Adichie gave violence against transgender women, reproductive rights, participation in sport and the debate around same-sex schools as examples where such acknowledgement would broaden the feminist conversation. She insisted that she has always stood up for the rights of trans women and would continue to do so.

During a question and answer session, Adichie was asked about issues of “intersectionality”, the overlap of social identities such as race, gender and sexuality. She remained sceptical: “Speaking of language, even the word ‘intersectionality’ comes from a certain kind of academic discourse that sometimes I don’t know what it means.”

Feminism was a useful word to rally around despite understandable reservations, she added. “I think the history of western feminism is one that is fraught with racism, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that, and at the same time to say that feminism is not the western invention, that my great-grandmother in what is now south-western Nigeria is feminist …

“I think white women need to wake up and say, ‘Not all women are white’, three times in front of the mirror.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/21/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-nothing-to-apologise-for-transgender-women
Posts: 23

« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2017, 02:05:26 PM »

Interesting topic! these are the conversations that we need to have....I honestly do not think that she is disregarding or devalorising trans women, she does acknowledge them and they are included in the feminist school of thought and arena......quite too often in our attempts to be inclusive or even live up to the feminist utopia we completely ignore that everyone's situation is different; different experiences, class, race, access to resources that influence and shape our everyday spaces, and these are factors that need to be considered.....i do not see this as  an insult to trans women or any measure of transphobia at all because i believe acknowledgment of these differences can open discussion to the oppressive limitations and pressure placed on trans women in living up to the realities  definitive of their transformation. Whilst there are genuine questions around what exactly is a "real woman" and that term perpetuates the limitations of gender as a social constructwe cannot deny the experiences associated with it as it exists as being irrelevant or secondary and in no way it was meant to put demarcations on what constitutes a man or a woman but more so a question of how does one identify with and claim a struggle that they never were apart of? These two groups do not move through the world in identical ways and the  socialization that we encounter is different and that is the reality   .......this conversation transcends gender and sexuality but can be broadly acknowledged in the political sphere when we talk about nationalism.....it is not sustainable and in as much as we'd like to paint the illusion that we are all one, again the question remains how are these differences and realities exist factored in? it simply cannot be excluded from any discourse  when assessing and moving forward  .....acknowledgement of it is necessary and in the same breathe acceptance of these differences are fundamental.....As Audre Lorde beautifully posits "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."
Iniko Ujaama
Posts: 541

« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2017, 04:18:43 PM »

I don't think she is wrong in pointing out a difference here between the experiences. In the West with its very narrow and stringent ideas of gender and the general sexist attitudes, I can see how it would be difficult for someone with ambiguities about how they see themselves gender-wise. Also being so male-centric and privileging a kind of macho kind of masculinity I could see how it could be tough for a male navigating male dominated space seeing themselves and behaving more feminine. But that person still has a choice in how they identify. The difficulties they face are a result and subset of the wider anti-female attitudes within the society.
Running down females for not accepting your assignment as a woman does nothing to address the general male privilege within the society and rides heavily on it.
Posts: 27

« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2017, 11:31:19 PM »

Disclaimer:I have no idea about feminist thought.

To me this is a manifestation of a world whereby expression of a differing opinion is no longer met with critical thought but with bullying by labelling someone with some sought of 'phobia'. It is insidious and a way of silencing dissenting voices.

You can be called by whatever pronoun and present to the world the physical traits characteristic of a gender however being male/female isn't just a look it is learnt behaviours that teach you how to interface with your world based on cultural experiences... therefore it is an exercise in futility to say that 'cis' women and their experiences can be obtained under the surgeon's scalpel. It is a fact not an opinion and shouting to the top of your lungs about phobias won't change that. It isn't an indication of how one will treat them nor whether one will deny their process.
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