Laverne Cox Responds to Writer's Controversial Remarks About Trans Women

March 13th 2017

An interview with writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Friday received a lot of backlash online regarding her remarks on transgender women, with Laverne Cox addressing the remarks in a spot on tweet thread.

“When people talk about, ‘are trans women women’ my feeling is that trans women are trans women,” Adichie shared with Channel 4. “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 are.”

Adichie’s comments were greeted with sharp critiques as her thoughts were seen as negating the reality of life for many transgender women, thrusting maleness onto women who are constantly seen as less than because of their identity.

The remarks were so divisive that Adiche released two clarifications in response. However, Cox isn't here for any of Adichie’s comments.

The issue that is rightfully being raised is that Adiche’s comments disregard feminist intersectionality — that different identities overlap and work together within an identity — while adopting a cis feminist tone, a point of view that excludes trans women in feminism for not being cisgender.

Like many transgender women, she felt Adiche summed up a problematic point of view that reduces trans experiences to the gender they do not identify with.

The problem, as Cox explains, is that any notion of “male privilege” assumed of her or any transgender person projects that their transitions are flip and that their experiences prior to transitioning were easy. Cox highlights the importance of understanding how identities intersect, that there is no universal answer to womanness, and that it’s easy to assume some “have privilege” when that is not necessarily the case.

Cox’s response to Adiche’s remarks also highlight that being LGBT in America isn’t easy. LGBT people are most likely to be targets of hate crimes. Transgender women are also subjected to higher rates of violence - especially, trans women of color.

In the months of January and February, seven trans women of color were killed, ATTN: writer Danielle DeCourcey reported on March 4, adding that "[f]rom 2015 to 2016, the number of transgender people killed broke records - a staggering total of 27 last year, mostly women of color."

As Cox says, statements like “trans women are trans women” reinforce binaries and thusly reinforce the social isolation of transgender persons. It's likely that Cox's insightful remarks will help to shine a light on the fact that a solution can only come from exploring gender and dismantling archaic societal gender roles.

[H/T OkayAfrica]

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