Acclaimed Nigerian writer and feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is unapologetic and unwilling to back away from her recent statement on transgender women which caused widespread outcry last week.
It will be recalled that in an interview with Channel 4 News, Ms Adichie said the experiences of transgender women differ from women who are born female. “My feeling is trans women are trans women”
Her comments drew immense criticism, resulting in Adichie posting a clarification of her earlier remarks on Facebook.
Addressing the controversy again at a public appearance in Washington D.C on Monday, March 20th, while promoting her book, “Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,” Adichie stated that she “didn’t apologize because I don’t think I have anything to apologize for”
“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 experience of gender. That’s really what my point is.”
“I didn’t apologize because I don’t think I have anything to apologize for,” she continued. “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 this is kind of language orthodoxy that you’re supposed to participate in, and when you don’t there’s 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”
Adichie also doubled down on her idea that gender is about an individual’s interactions with the world, going back to her statement that a woman who once lived as a man has felt male privilege.
“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,” she said.
Adichie also cleared up any misconceptions about why she thinks acknowledging differences among women is necessary.
“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”