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Trans-women are trans-women and women are women says Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie finds herself on the spotlight for statements she made recently on transgender. The Nigerian novelist in an interview with Channel 4 categorically stated her thoughts on transgender women, and the remarks have been seen by many as problematic, while others have defended her comments.



Gender and identity has always been a topic of debate across the globe. The world is no longer white or black, it is grey too. Gender identity is similarly fluid, there are men, women and Trans-gender people, and everyone wants to be treated just as equally as the other.

The world is still trying to navigate its way around the fluidity of gender, and transgender issues are becoming all the more topical. In a recent interview, Nigerian novelist made some statements on her thoughts on transgender issues.

Read: Chimamanda Adichie is elected into the American Academy of Letters

In an interview with Channel 4 News Chimamanda said:


“So when people talk about, you know, are ‘trans-women women?’ my feeling is trans-women are trans-women. 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 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 the world accords to men, and then sort of changed, switched gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that then we can equate to 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,”she added.

In the interview, Chimamanda further noted, ” But I don’t think it’s a good thing 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, because I don’t think that’s true”.

Chimamanda Nogozi Adichie in an interview with Channel 4. Photo: Chimamanda Adichie/ Facebook

Her statement was met with mixed reactions, criticised and seen as divisive and problematic. Chimamanda is not the first feminist to make the statement on trans identity, viewed as problematic. Jenni Murray, presenter of the BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in an article for The Times, Be trans, be proud- but don’t call yourself a “real woman” was criticised for making “hurtful remarks” after suggesting men who have had sex-change operations should not claim to be “real women”.

Chimamanda came with a rejoinder to her statement on her Facebook page.

She wrote: “Because the truth about societal privilege is that it isn’t about how you feel. (Anti-racist white people still benefit from race privilege in the United States). It is about how the world treats you, about the subtle and not so subtle things that you internalize and absorb”.


Read: Chimamanda Adichie and seven global achievers to receive Johns Hopkins honorary doctorates

“This is not to say that trans women did not undergo difficulties as boys. But they did not undergo those particular difficulties specific to being born female, and this matters because those experiences shape how adult women born female interact with the world,” Chimamanda adds.

In the statement on Facebook, Chimamanda notes, “And because to be human is to be a complex amalgam of your experiences, it is disingenuous to say that their being born male has no effect on their experience of gender as trans women”.

Many trans-women, both on the continent and across the world have come out to tell their stories. The hashtag #Maleprivilegediaries has been used on Twitter to share their stories and experiences.