Why So Angry At Trans-Racial Folk?
I’m puzzled by the reasons people give for their anger over Rachel Dolezal’s transracial turn.
Like arguments that contradict each other:
It’s okay to be transgender but not transracial because
- gender is grounded in biology but race isn’t
- race is grounded in biology but gender isn’t
Then there’s this:
Will “transracial” create limiting boxes?
To move out of one box and into another, you must have boxes, right?
But only if you think they are grounded in fundamental difference, whether between black and white or female and male.
Lucky, the differences are not fundamental.
As I’ve discussed before, race is a social construction.
And so is gender — by definition, in fact.
Sure, sex is biological, but you cannot predict whether a brain is female or male using brain scans. And there is almost nothing you can predict about a person just by knowing gender. In fact, there’s huge overlap. (About the only thing you can predict by sex is who is muscularly stronger.)
Transracial reflects white privilege
Being transracial reflects white privilege because it’s harder for other races to pass.
So the solution is to put everyone back in their boxes? Instead of allowing everyone to move out of them?
Our racial ideas are so limiting. How we perceive people, how people perceive themselves.
Some internalize society’s view that they aren’t so intelligent because of their race (or gender). Their confidence drops, and so does their performance.
Others overcome the view yet face discriminatory beliefs in the outside world.
If we really got that race and gender are both social constructs, it would be easier for everyone to escape limiting stereotypes.
If we really got it, we’d realize that it’s not about coloring, but culture.
Right-wingers pushing us inside boxes
Some ire was raised when right-wingers used the transgender/transracial comparison to delegitimize both.
But instead of opening fire on transracial people, take aim at those who want to push everyone back into their boxes.
Transgender people aren’t deceiving anyone. But transracial people are?
I don’t see transgender or transracial people as deceitful.
“Daphne” was born female and friends and family saw her as “she.” But Daphne had — and still has — masculine facial features, so strangers usually thought she was a he.
Today “Dylan” doesn’t feel either gender, but says it’s easier to pass as a man. Adding,
The men’s restroom would be dangerous if the wrong person learned my secret.
Is Dylan deceiving the guys in the men’s restroom? And everyone else he meets if he hasn’t explained his entire history?
Or, was Brandon Teena (Boys Don’t Cry) deceitful?
Caitlyn Jenner said she was living a lie as Bruce.
Many transgender people live, and have lived, in the closet.
I don’t think they’re lying and deceiving. I think they’re doing the best they can under the circumstances.
Same with transracial folk.
Appropriating another culture is wrong
When members of privileged groups exploit the culture of less privileged groups, without understanding their experience, history and traditions, that’s cultural appropriation.
But if you are a part of a community and authentically expressing yourself, is that appropriation? Who is qualified to judge the heart of Dr. Dolezal?
She’s faking being black
“She’s faking being black and she’s only transracial when she wants to be!” say some.
Dr. Dolezal has been consistently black over many years. It’s not a mask she pulls on and off as convenient. Do you know better than she who she “really is”?
She’s benefited by being transracial
She’d benefit a lot more by being white.
Are new ideas just scary?
I wonder if new ideas are just scary. Fear is sometimes expressed as anger.
But why must we stay stuffed inside ill-fitting boxes? Which are only real to the extent that we believe they are?
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Posted on June 24, 2015, in feminism, gender, LGBTQ+, psychology, race/ethnicity, sexism, women and tagged ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+, psychology, race, Rachel Dolezal, sexism, transgender, transracial, women. Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.