TEDx speaker and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was interviewed this week by the UK's Channel 4 News about her views on feminism. Adichie, whose talk "We Should All Be Feminists" was sampled in Beyoncé's song "***Flawless," is now coming under fire for her answer to the question of whether being a transgender woman makes you "any less of a real woman."
Adichie responded that transgender women and "women" have different life experiences when it comes to societal oppression and therefore cannot be equated.
"I think that trans women are trans women," Adichie said in the interview. "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 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 changed, switched 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 have."
Adichie's wording tripped up many online who said trans woman can be accepted as women without equating them to cis women. "Woman" is an umbrella term, some argued, that doesn't require certain experiences.
Others, like transgender activist Raquel Willis, said Adichie shouldn't have been asked about trans women since she isn't one. Willis went on to explain how dangerous Adichie's language can be for transwomen in reinforcing society's perception that they aren't "real women."
Since the interview Adichie has posted a response on her Facebook page in which she acknowledges that transwomen have a place in feminism while reiterating the points she made in her interview.