On Monday, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie defended comments she made to the U.K.’s Channel 4 News on the difference in experience between transgender women and cisgender women, the Guardian reported.
When asked whether a transgender woman was “any less of a real woman” because she was assigned male at birth, Adichie said that “trans women are trans women.”
Adichie went on to say that because transgender women once presented male, their experience is too different from cisgender women’s experience to equate the two.
Adichie stood by her comments two days later in a Facebook post to her author page, but the criticism was swift, especially from members of the transgender community. Actress Laverne Cox criticized Adichie’s analysis, saying it “isn’t intersectional” to believe that “all trans women transition from male privilege.” Read more (3/21/17 4:53 PM)
I want to see Zeus in a tailored suit and shaggy beard, a
walking disparity of the loud, brash, post-graduate frat boy variety who can’t
pass a woman on the street without catcalls, who has more one-night stands than
he could possibly keep in his head, for whom adultery comes as naturally as the
weather he predicts on the Channel 4 News—with startlingly accuracy, and an
endless wealth of charisma.
I want to see Hera walking tall, six-inch heels and not a
wrinkle in her skirt, knowing her boyfriend is cheating, and knowing with equal
certainty that she is better, stronger, fiercer than he will ever be, a wedding
planner with an eye of steel, spotting vulnerability, slicing it open, teaching
every woman who crosses her path to value themselves over any mistake made in
the name of men and love.
I want to see Poseidon in Olympic prime, a gym rat who
skives off class to shatter backstroke records, who spends his summers
lifeguarding at the city pool, who keeps an ever-expanding aquarium in his
bedroom and coaxes all the pretty girls up to visit his fish, his charm as
impressive as the earth-rending temper he generally uses to fuel his competitive
I want to see Hades, big, hulking, quieter than his brothers
would ever think to be, who dresses in neat dark clothes, and polishes his
boots, and spends more time reading than fighting, who debates eventuality and
ethics, who stoically reminds everyone how enormous, how terrifying, how
inescapable a thing like silentinevitability can be.
I want to see Hermes in a beanie, with watercolor splashes
of tattoo crawling up his arms and holes in his Chucks, a bike messenger with
no helmet, no regard for the rules of the road, all cataclysmic laughter, lock-pick
tricks passed along to every kid who thinks to ask, thumbing through his iPhone
without a care in the world.
I want to see Athena with reading glasses pushed high on her
head, six books in her bag and a switchblade in her back pocket, her clothing
as neatly ordered as her mind is feverish, brilliance and temper clashing and
blending, doing her best to look dignified—even when her brain chemistry
rockets ahead of her well-intentioned plans.
I want to see Apollo splattered with acrylics, board shorts
and Monster headphones and a beautiful classic car, busking on street corners,
not because he has no choice, but because the sunlight catching on a
sticker-patterned acoustic is summer incarnate, because music is blood, because
the act of creation is the ultimate in sublime.
I want to see Artemis in ripped jeans and haphazard topknot,
star of the soccer team, the track team, the archery team, who rides a
motorcycle, and keeps a tribe of girls around her at all times, and does not
care for men, for expectation, for anything but volunteer hours down at the
local animal shelter and falling asleep under the stars.
I want to see Aphrodite in sundress and scarf, homemade
jewelry and lavish amounts of bright red lipstick, who is excellent at public
speaking, at theater auditions, at soothing bruised egos and sparking epic
fights, who kisses as easily as she breathes and scrawls poetry onto bathroom
I want to see Ares all but living in the boxing ring, cutoff
shirts and sweats, red-faced under a crew cut as he punches, punches, punches
until the noise in his head dims, a warrior with no war, all crude jokes and
blind fury, totally incapable of understanding what it is to sit, think, plan
before running screaming into the fray.
I want to see Demeter with the best garden you’ve seen in
your life, with a lawn care business she runs out of her garage, a teenage
prodigy grown into a joint-custody single mother, who teaches her carefree
daughter all she knows while scaring off the hopeful neighborhood boys with the
pet python draped across her shoulders.
I want to see Dionysus with a joint in one hand and a bottle
of wine in the other, baggy hoodies and three-week-old jeans, who brews his own
beer in his basement and greets all visitors with a fresh pack of Oreos and
half-stoned theories of the universe, of birth and death and partying mid-week,
because why not, man?
I want to see Hephaestus with a workshop taking up the
majority of his house, whose kitchen is overrun with blowtorches, whose bathrooms
are home to all manner of hodge-podge invention, who walks with a cane and
forgets his laundry for weeks at a time, and strings together the most
beautiful steampunk costumes at any convention at the drop of a hat.
I want to see wood nymphs fighting against climate change,
waving their signs and pushing for scientific progress. I want to see epic
heroes sitting down to Magic: The Gathering tournaments, poker brawls, Call of
Duty all-nighters with beer and snapbacks. I want to see Medusa working a women’s
shelter, want to see Achilles training for deployment, want to see Prometheus
serving endless community service stints for what he calls providing necessary welfare with stolen goods.
Give me modern mythology. I could play for hours in that
Black Mirror is a fantastic TV show because, yes, much of what we see is, outwardly, a sick, sci-fi dystopia. (“Hey, it’s too weird and abstract from us! We’re safe! We’re distanced!”)
But, then, after a while, you accept it’s not THAT much a surprise, after all. It never was. There’s no distance anymore.
The political rise of cartoon characters like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson says it all.
And the less said about David Cameron and that pig the better.
On Why Trans Women May Be Offended By the Idea of Not Being Considered “Woman”
In a recent interview with Channel 4 News, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie offered (and quite inoffensively) that “trans women are trans women”. I mean, what a shit storm this created. As a matter of fact, it created such a shit storm that as we speak, Chimamanda is literally swimming through a river of shit trying to “clarify” her “perspective” on the matter.
In the interview, Chimamanda underlined her point by drawing on the ways in which the social identities we embody (embrace and perform) and those that are simply socially ascribed but are neither embraced nor performed, shape the way we experience the social world. In her own words she states, “so, when people talk about, you know, are trans women, women, my feeling is that trans women are trans women. I think the whole problem of the 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 the world accords to men, and then sort of change, switch 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 are. And so, I think there has to be… And this is not of course to say this is… i’m saying this also with, sort of, a certainty that transgender people… should be allowed to be. 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. What i’m saying is that gender is not biology, gender is sociology”.
Because I interpret this statement as profound at the least, and intellectual at best, I can’t seem to comprehend the outrage.
Now, I have a couple of questions:
1) Should we not be directing our “attacks” at the interviewer for the way in which she framed the question to Chimamanda? She asks “staying with this issue of feminism, femininity, does it matter how you’ve arrived at being a woman? For example, if you are a trans woman who grew up identifying as a man, who grew up enjoying the privileges of being a man, does that take away from you becoming a woman? Are you any less of a real woman?”
I mean, this was such a leading question and Chimamanda would’ve appeared petty if she told the interviewer that she had no interest in engaging with such a “controversial” question. Nevertheless, Chimamanda responded to the “twisted” question as honestly and clearly critically as she could. Furthermore, with the interviewer suggesting that trans women “grew up identifying as a man” - this is actual grounds for an outrage. I mean, where are the “angry trans women” when you need them?
The entire trans community should be utterly offended by the fact that the interviewer is suggesting here, that psychologically, a trans woman’s gender was somehow initially aligned with their sex assigned at birth. In other words, the interviewer is suggesting that at one point or another a trans woman once identified as a man. However, based on the novelist’s explanation, I gather that she was actually referring to the way in which the socially ascribed identity of male ( whether or not the gender norms associated with this sex is embraced or not) shaped the advantages/privileges that person experienced or lived prior to their transition.
Furthermore, the mere thought that a person “becomes” a woman should’ve been the first indication that this Channel 4 interviewer either does not have an understanding of gender identity politics, lacks awareness of the language associated with gender politics or is simply feigning awareness for the sake of controversy, viewership, subscriptions, likes and shares. At the bare minimum, it is as if she did not do the necessary groundwork. If we insist on getting mad at someone, it should be the Channel 4 interviewer - btw, what is her name?
The trans community ought to be focusing their attention and attacks in the direction of the Channel 4 interviewer (as well). Identity-wise, not only is the interviewer visibly white but she presents as woman and female. As a matter of fact, I strongly believe she should’ve directed such an uneducated question to herself. This is especially because Black women for some time have not been considered “woman” or even “feminine”. I mean, it’s almost as if there is a number of common ground/denominators that women of trans experience and Black women share: the fact that we are invisible and hardly considered woman.
I’d actually like to hear how the Channel 4 interviewer would’ve responded.
I’m not even sure how i’d respond.
Should I even would want to care to respond?
2) Are we not entitled to our perspectives anymore? When did it become so blasphemous to respond with critical statements to controversial questions posed to us? Are we the followers of a cult? Is “dissent” not allowed? Did we miss the part where Chimamanda made every effort to be “politically correct” whilst trying to remain honest about her understandings of gender politics? Have we forgotten that she once declared that she does not consider herself an “authority” on the matter?
We ought to do better. As a matter of fact, we ought to be mad at ourselves for expecting her to think the way we think.
Now, I wish to go into the second segment of my commentary and, based on the responses to Chimamanda’s “alternative” or “different” point of view, a number of people may find this offensive. This is however, not my aim. Rather, my aim is to facilitate critical self-reflection and ultimately the heightening of one’s critical consciousness. Self-reflection is not often an easy process but it is essential in the process of “acknowledging” and “overcoming” or even “embracing” the parts of ourselves that we or others may find “problematic”.
I have a question to ask trans women, and in actuality, this question could be asked to anyone (including myself as I believe all social identities are flexible) who challenge traditional and dominant social identities with our mere existence or our embodied self-identities that do not necessarily fit into the status quo:
1) Why are we so eager to “perform” traditional identities if the self-identities we embrace are not traditional, and at the same time get offended when people ask questions?
For example, identifying as a trans woman yet wanting to perform “traditional” gender norms associated with being woman. This manifests itself in for instance, the "goal” to be a “beautiful, feminine” woman. The “means” by which this goal is achieved is through performances of make-up application, heel-wearing and essentially engaging in what a friend of mine describes as “hyper-femininity”. Before I go on, I probably should ask where I might find other “kinds” of trans women as perhaps my understandings may be clouded by the most visible type of trans women in western media: the undeniably beautiful Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, among others.
I’ve always wondered, if we agree that social identities are all socially constructed and are not biologically based, why do we insist on performing established norms if we are so unique? Is it simply because of our innate need to fit in - to identify with a group?
Socially constructed identities - whether embodied or not - are “not biology” as Chimamanda states, they are “sociology”. They are “sociology” because they are socially constructed and serve the function of enabling us to not only make sense of our social world, but also, to enable us to navigate our social world with the use of language and symbols which we attach to various objects and ourselves - the subjects.
Because these labels (and language in general) emerge with meanings attached, they shape how we experience the social world. That is, they shape how we treat (think and act towards) others and they also shape how we are treated. As a matter of fact, it is the outcomes of the interactions of our multiple social identities (race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, etc.), within a given context that form the basis of our unique social experiences.
We also must remember that the multiple identities we embody are configured differently. This is especially when we consider where and when our unique experiences emerge. They are so differently configured to the extent that an identity (your gender) that may be more important to you in any given context may not be as important to me as one of my “other” identities (my sexuality) in the same context. It is this fact alone that makes our experiences “not the same”.
I must say, I ask the question I asked knowing full well that the meanings of social constructs, labels or social categories change over time. I also ask in an effort to refrain from “making assumptions” about persons of trans experience.
Abu Izzadeen's brother says he is still in prison and not London attacker
The man initially named as the attacker who mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a police officer outside Parliament is in fact still in prison for an unrelated matter, his brother has said.
The brother of Abu Izzadeen, formerly known as Trevor Brooks, called into Channel 4 News to say he could not be the attacker, after he had been named earlier in the broadcast.
Izzadeen was born in Hackney in east London and converted to Islam just before he turned 18, in 1993, originally changing his name to Omar. He has previous convictions for terror related offences.
Channel 4 said in a statement: “On tonight’s Channel 4 News, senior home affairs correspondent Simon Israel quoted a source as saying that the name of the Westminster attacker was believed to be Abu Izzadeen, formerly known as Trevor Brooks.
"During the course of the programme, conflicting information came to light. Channel 4 News is currently looking into this.”
Mr Israel tweeted: “The source I trusted, but ultimately I made a mistake. This time I got it wrong. Abu Izzadeen is in prison.”
Channel 4 News editor Ben De Pear tweeted: “Tonight our trusted Correspondent @simonisrael made a mistake in naming the wrong person as the suspect in the parliament attack.
“in years of award winning coverage @simonisrael has rarely been wrong; tonight he was. Abu Izzadeen is in prison & not the suspect”.