Some fans of author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have expressed dismay about her recent comments in support of a controversial essay from literary icon JK Rowling.
The Harry Potter author courted controversy earlier this year when she defended a woman accused of transphobia and wrote a lengthy essay that exposed criticisms of trans peoples' right to exist. Mirroring comments from many Republican lawmakers, she said governments were "playing fast and loose with women’s and girls’ safety” by allowing trans people to use bathrooms, compared being trans to mental illness and said trans men were "escaping womanhood."
For months, trans activists and others have slammed Rowling for using her massive, global platform to spread conspiracy theories and hatred about trans people. Rowling has since continued to express her anti-trans thoughts and has not backed down from her comments, claiming trans people support her criticism.
This week, Adichie decided to bring up Rowling's essay unprompted during an interview with The Guardian while discussing her Winner of Winner’s award.
We are so excited to reveal that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been crowned your 'Winner of Winners.'
— Women's Prize (@WomensPrize) November 12, 2020
The widely adored feminist author took time out of her interview to criticize liberal Americans for alleged "self-righteousness" and criticized those who tried to educate her in 2018 when she was under fire for her own comments on trans women.
"There’s a sense in which you aren’t allowed to learn and grow. Also forgiveness is out of the question. I find it so lacking in compassion. How much of our wonderfully complex human selves are we losing? I think in America the worst kind of censorship is self-censorship, and it is something America is exporting to every part of the world. We have to be so careful: you said the wrong word you must be crucified immediately,” she said.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Feels "Trans Women Are Trans Women"
— SLAY TV (@slaytvnow) March 10, 2017
After her own controversial comments about trans people, Adichie told The Guardian that she was interested in reading Rowling's essay and thought it was "a perfectly reasonable piece.”
“Again, JK Rowling is a woman who is progressive, who clearly stands for and believes in diversity,” Adichie said, adding that she thinks criticism of Rowling's transphobia is “cruel and sad."
"And in terms of ideas, it is fundamentally uninteresting. The orthodoxy, the idea that you are supposed to mouth the words, it is so boring. In general, human beings are emotionally intelligent enough to know when something is coming from a bad place,” Adichie said.
While many online defended her right to make the comments and support her anti-trans remarks, the comments reignited some of the criticism her fans have leveled against her in recent years.
Some defended Rowling and Adichie.
Me I agree with there women -. Chimamanda Adichie and JK Rowling. They're just sharing concerns for the natural woman. A trans woman is a trans woman and provisions should be made for them separately. Being a woman is not a garment. Why can't people understand this? pic.twitter.com/BTlW9sOPme
— «•ATINUKE ????•» (@LadyGrasha) November 16, 2020
Her saying she didn't agree with Beyoncé's version of feminism was the first red flag smhhhh
— Lindsay G. (@HeyLindsayG) November 16, 2020
No one—not even the wealthy and famous like JK Rowling and Chimamanda Adichie—has the power to “approve” or “accept” that another human being exists. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Arguing over the type or level of legitimacy one should “give” trans lives is bigotry.
— Uju Anya (@UjuAnya) November 17, 2020
Her staunch support of JKR means that she agrees with JKR’s views, which she has called ‘progressive’ and ‘perfectly reasonable’. Those views include not letting trans kids transition, even though it’s been shown that the suicide rates drop when they’re allowed to.
— akwaeke emezi (@azemezi) November 17, 2020
Author Akwaeke Emezi shared her own experience in speaking out about Adichie's comments.
For all of you clinging to Adichie’s ‘apology’ and ‘LGBTQ activism’—there are so many resources explaining why her views are transphobic, why trans women do not actually have male privilege, why it is harmful to claim they do, but y’all are not interested in learning.
— akwaeke emezi (@azemezi) November 17, 2020
the list of prominent west african cis women who are unapologetically transphobic is extensive trash – like sis, we were all rooting for you!
when it comes down to it apparently we’re not ALL rooting for EVERYBODY black, is what i’ll say about that. https://t.co/NrwoAYeyMS
— adwoa gyimah-brempong (@theonlyadwoa) November 17, 2020
Many highlighted that when Emezi spoke out about Adichie's comments, the famous author forced her to remove her name from her debut novel.
To read that Chimamanda pulled her support for Akwaeke's book PUBLICATION WEEK because Chimamanda was rightfully called out for transphobia is so disturbing and yet so typical of how fragile celebrities with power behave. To see Akwaeke continue to thrive despite it is beautiful.
— Untitled Brooke Obie Project (@BrookeObie) November 16, 2020
This was her. Two days after Freshwater debuted, she asked that her name be removed from my bio everywhere because of my tweets online. Most were about her transphobia.https://t.co/5iaQY5EMcF
— akwaeke emezi (@azemezi) November 16, 2020
In a thread, Emezi said Adichie had edited and wrote the introduction for her book Freshwater.
"I have to laugh because truly, one of my publishers had to explain to her that stripping the covers to remove her name wasn’t an option, they would have to PULP the entire run of galleys and that would be too expensive. They said they could put a sticker with the new bio over the old one, and she accepted that as a solution ~as long as~ the sticker couldn’t be removed. I guess to forestall any readers who might peel it off and God forbid, read a line stating the fact that she edited my work," Emezi wrote on Twitter.
"CNA and her journey are not actually my concern. The people she is harming are the ones I care about, and it matters to me to show that hey, someone is punching down at you and we're not going to look away or pretend it's not happening because she's a famous 'feminist'," Emezi added.