As we bring the chaotic year that was 2020 to a close and enter into 2021, it is never a bad idea to look back on everything that has happened in the literary world. While it has been an eventful year, there’s one scandal we can’t forget: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s seemingly continued support of transphobia.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, The Thing Around Your Neck, and Purple Hibiscus, first showed support of transphobia in 2017 during an interview on Britain’s Channel 4 News, where she said, “When people talk about, ‘Are trans women women?’ my feeling is trans women are trans women.” If you are unfamiliar with the struggles faced by transwomen, this comment may seem fine to you. However, the statement is problematic in that it implies that transwomen are distinct from ‘real women’ when transwomen are in fact, real women. Her transphobic comments are also regarded as hypocritical due to her famous book and TED-talk, We Should All Be Feminist, as transphobia is inherently anti-feminist.
After her comment in 2017, Adichie, who is an LGBTQ+ rights activist in Nigeria, did not apologize and instead clarified her comments during a public appearance.
From the very beginning, I think it’s been quite clear that there’s no way I could possibly say that trans women are not women. It’s the sort of thing to me that’s obvious, so I start from that obvious premise. Of course, they are women but in talking about feminism and gender and all of that, it’s important for us to acknowledge the differences in experience of gender. That’s really what my point is.
Now, in light of J.K Rowling’s continued transphobic comments in a recent blog post, Adichie once again shows her support of transphobia with support of Rowling’s post by saying it is a, “perfectly reasonable piece” in a November 2020 interview with The Guardian. This support of transphobia once again drew the attention of the LGBTQ+ community and allies of the community.
This scandal went so far as to even draw the attention of Adichie’s own past student, Akwaeke Emezi, who is nonbinary and responded to the situation with a Twitter thread. They said, “This is not the first time CNA has dismissed people’s condemnation of transphobia as ‘noise'” and expressed their disappointment in Adichie, as she was somebody they admired for her work. Emezi also revealed that Adichie asked to have her name removed from their books in 2017 after Adichie’s first public transphobic comments. In response to Adichie’s request, Emezi said, “I was okay with it because to be honest, I agreed that my connection to her shouldn’t be used to sell my work. We do not stand for the same things. I didn’t and still don’t want her name on my books.”
So, in light of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s comments, Bitch Media suggests four Nigerian authors to read instead who do not support transphobia in their article, 4 Nigerian Authors to Read Who Haven’t Been Proudly Transphobic, including Akwaeke Emezi.