When women dare to spark

Now Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s daring to say that she thinks trans women are trans women has become a news item. I guess it’s shocking when women say things like “trans women are trans women.”

The LA Times tendentiously headlines:

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie angers transgender community

And the Motoons “provoked the Muslim community” and Charlie Hebdo “sparked outrage” and on and on it goes.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian novelist and outspoken feminist, drew criticism from transgender activists after suggesting that the experiences of transgender women are different from women whose gender was assigned female at birth.

Which is ridiculous, because of course the two sets of experiences are different. In other contexts that’s seen as the whole point.

The Washington Post is slightly less accusatory, but only slightly.

Women’s issues are different from trans women’s issues, feminist author says, sparking criticism

Her comments propelled her to the center of a nuanced, long-running gender identity debate between some feminists and transgender rights activists. The dilemma is based on the belief that most trans women were born assigned to the male gender and were raised male until they decided to transition. As a result, some feminists argue, transgender women spent a fraction — or large part — of their early lives experiencing male privilege.

Which many trans women agree is true.

In response to Adichie’s comments, Julia Serano, author of “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity,” called out non-transgender women who feel the “audacity” to comment on the experiences of transgender women without having personally lived them.

Meanwhile, Serano has previously written that before her transition, “nothing could have truly prepared” her for what male privilege would entail.

“I underestimated just how frustrating, infuriating and hurtful it would feel to have strangers regularly hurl cat calls and sexual innuendos at me, or to have men speak down to me, talk over me, and sometimes even practically put on baby-talk voices when addressing me,” she said.

Well that’s our point exactly. She underestimated just how frustrating, infuriating and hurtful it would feel to have strangers regularly hurl cat calls and sexual innuendos at her or talk down to or over her – which is another way of saying that she experienced male privilege. Not living through years of cat calls and being talked down to is what we mean when we talk about the different experiences. I do not see why we can’t just agree on that and move on.

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