Novelist and feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie made an attempt to clarify comments she made about transgender women in an interview with Channel 4 News.
In the interview, Adichie said, “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.”
The ripple effect of her comments is an outrage across social media where transwomen and LGBTQ advocates have faulted her position and have even accused her of being transphobic.
Chimamanda being asked about trans women is like Lena Dunham being asked about Black women. It doesn't work. We can speak for ourselves.
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) March 11, 2017
They argue it is transmisogynistic to assume that trans women are not real women because they were accorded male privileges in their pre-transition existence. Meanwhile, the experience is different per individual. While some may well have received those privileges, others had to struggle with the distress that accompanies the fact that they were seen and treated as a gender they were not.
Now, the transgender community across the world is in a conversation about this vital issue and Nigerians have weighed in too. On the home front, it’s been super convenient for most to sit on the side of Adichie, for others to typically sit on the fence and for a few to trashtalk the existence of transsexual humans entirely. But the lopsided opinion of many Nigerians leaves one wondering if they really understand these things and if our society is ready for such.
Chimamanda is right!
A transgender woman is a not a woman!
— FAVOUR ONYEOZIRI (@Rouvafe) March 11, 2017
Transgender women can NEVER be real women. It takes more than a multiple surgeries to be us. Chimamanda Adichie couldn't have said it better
— smallie 👑 (@chi_onwubiko) March 11, 2017
As Nigerians, we are even yet to fully come to terms with the concept of cross dressing. Many transvestites in our society cannot boldly walk the streets simply because they are still berated and sometimes, even harassed. A larger part of the society still considers snapchat sensation, Bobrisky a crazy young man who will return to normalcy in due time. A society that is quick to ascribe a person’s sexual orientation (especially when it’s away from the norm) to madness of some sorts, is not ready to dabble into transsexual conversations. The fact is this: you don’t really expect people to understand a concept they have yet to consider as normal.
Until we educate ourselves on the issues that surround sexuality, gender and identity and open up to acceptance as against bias and discrimination, then we can begin to engage in progressive conversations.
Follow @ynaija on Twitter