aNewDomain — Everybody knows that Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out is a cultural marker, jumpstarting trans acceptance the same way that Magic Johnson’s announcement that he was HIV-positive changed Americans’ views of HIV-AIDS and gays. What nobody anticipated was that “trans” is no longer limited to people who were born one gender and later identify as another.
Rachel Dolezal, leader of the Spokane chaper of the NAACP, is almost certainly white, yet identifies as African-American. Now many liberals are embracing her right to do so.
Transsexuality is old news. Welcome to transraciality.
New York University sociology professor Ann Morning tells CBS “that just like some people are transgender, others may be trans-racial — identifying more with a race other than their own. We’re getting more and more used to the idea that people’s racial affiliation and identity and sense of belonging can change, or can vary, with different circumstances.”
Dolezal told a local TV station:
Actually, I don’t like the term African-American; I prefer black. So, if asked, I would say, Yes, I consider myself to be black. I don’t give two shits what they [her white parents and the media] think … It’s more important for me to clarify that with the black community and my executive board than with people who don’t understand.”
Many people have passed as members of other races. Some, like Michael Jackson, have even had surgery in order to change their racial appearance.
Given the fact that, from a genetic standpoint race is largely an artificial construct, and the absurd though still prevalent “single drop of blood” rule, playing with color lines comes with the territory.
What’s novel about Dolezal is not just her audacity — becoming an officer of the NAACP? Really? — but the willingness of many of the left to defend her, arguing that it’s acceptable to identify as a member of any race you want. Ten years ago, this is not how this would have gone down.
Rather than roll her eyes with scorn, MSNBC Melissa Harris-Perry floated the possibility that Dolezal might be “cisblack and transblack” and wondered aloud whether “the achievement of blackness despite one’s parentage” might be legitimate. Author Alyson Hobbs replied that there’s “certainly a chance that she identifies as a black woman and there could be authenticity to that.”
Omar Mohammed, who is black, wrote on Quartz:
By going around identifying herself as black, and being treated as such, [Dolezal] was able to finally understand what it’s like to be African-American in a country that still struggles with racial injustice. She was able to walk in the shoes of millions of Americans and know what racism and discrimination feel like. She chose to walk in those shoes. I see something admirable in that, and I hope others will see it too.”
At Slate Jamelle Bouie, also black, asks: “Is she black just because she says she is?”
His answer is maybe.
In her favor are key parts of her life. Dolezal has identified as black for almost 10 years. She’s been heavily involved in the local black community, and a leader on issues important to black people. She has no apparent black ancestry—a real difference from blacks who pass—but she’s adopted a kind of black culture almost wholesale.”
Bouie seems to be willing to accept Dolezal as black — even though, by the usual American historical and cultural standards, she is not — if she lives as a black woman all the time. “She says she’s black, but we don’t know if she’s always black. Is she black when she’s purchasing a home? Talking to the police? Or is she black only when vying for a role where lived experience would help her odds?”
As the comedian Amy Schumer tweeted: “Wait, we can be black if we want?”
Amy is being funny, but she’s got a point. Except I get pulled over by police too frequently to ever want to be black. Also, I can’t afford the pay cut.
Still, all this trans-beyond-transsexuality stuff opens up a big hot mess of fun possibilities for those of us who want to bust out of the confines of societal definitions and prejudices.
Are you a short guy who can’t get dates? Cis-short becomes trans-tall with a few edits to your online dating profile! (From what I hear, this is already a big — sorry — thing.) Never mind the diets — declare yourself a proud trans-thin … even trans-willowy American!
There’s no limit to the new trans acceptance. Those who suffer from species dysphoria, who include some “furries,” believe they are animals trapped in a human body. Might I realize my long-held desire to be trans-special, specifically trans-feline — and spend the rest of my life like any garden-variety cis-cat, sleeping and eating?
Last weekend’s Hillary Clinton speech on Roosevelt Island, New York marked a triumph of trans-ideology. Despite the ex-secretary of state’s long, dismally consistent history of warmongering, opposition to privacy rights, tacit endorsement of torture, job-killing trade agreements and destroying the social safety net, the former Goldwater Girl now identifies as an FDR-style progressive.
Like Arianna Huffington and Bill Maher, she’s a trans-liberal!
I just wish I could become trans-wealthy.
Image four: thefigtree.org