Adele has been labelled "transphobic" after declaring at a gender-neutral awards show that she "loves being a woman".
The singer made the comment at the Brit Awards while collecting her prize for Artist of the Year, a new category merging the former Best Male and Best Female Artist awards, reports the New York Post.
Amid huge cheers, she said: "I understand why the name of this award has changed but I really love being a woman and being a female artist. I do!"
"I'm really proud of us, I really, really am," she said.
Despite overwhelming support from the crowd in London's O2 Arena, her comments soon led to backlash online.
"Please, no, ADELE can't be a TERF," one wrote on Twitter.
"Who'd have thought Adele was a transphobe and would use her platform to call for the destruction of the trans community. Especially the confused teenagers," another Twitter user posted.
Others commented that they had lost respect for the artist and would now no longer "spend a cent on her music", the Times of London reported.
But the comments led many to spring to Adele's defence.
Author and refugee campaigner Onjali Rauf tweeted, "Thank you @Adele. Just, thank you. For speaking the two words being vilified. Woman. Female."
Media consultant and author Jane Symons said she didn't know "whether to cry or scream" over the criticism.
"A decade ago, if someone had said a woman would [be criticised] for the thought-crime of saying she liked being a woman, I would have laughed at such a ludicrous suggestion. Now it is happening," she wrote.
Teacher Debbie Hayton wrote in the Spectator that Adele was risking joining the likes of JK Rowling, who has made headlines for "standing up for her sex".
"Adele's message to women and girls was inspirational. Here was a woman – who has sold tens of millions of albums – telling the world she was proud to be a woman. That's something to celebrate, not condemn," she wrote.
"Girls need role models and last night Adele stepped up to the plate. For that, she deserves applause, even greater than the adulation she received for her music."
Adele is yet to comment on the criticism.