In Defense of Transracialism
Former NAACP chapter head Rachel Dolezal’s attempted transition from the white to the black race occasioned heated controversy. Her story gained notoriety at the same time that Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair, signaling a growing acceptance of transgender identity. Yet criticisms of Dolezal for misrepresenting her birth race indicate a widespread social perception that it is neither possible nor acceptable to change one’s race in the way it might be to change one’s sex. Considerations that support transgenderism seem to apply equally to transracialism. Although Dolezal herself may or may not represent a genuine case of a transracial person, her story and the public reaction to it serve helpful illustrative purposes.
Tuvel, a confirmed supporter of transgenderism and transgender rights, has been savaged for daring to point out the obvious. Fellow travellers have, of course, turned on her:
People have a right to be offended by academic articles and to express outrage at those articles, of course, and trans people obviously have a right to contest false or malicious representations of them and their lives made in any forum. Surely Tuvel’s article wasn’t perfect, and surely one could make legitimate critiques of it with regard to its treatment of trans people and their identities. The point here isn’t to suggest otherwise.
Rather, what’s disturbing here is how many hundreds of academics signed onto and helped spread utterly false claims about one of their colleagues, and the extent to which Hypatia, faced with such outrage, didn’t even bother trying to sift legitimate critiques from frankly made-up ones. A huge number of people who haven’t read Tuvel’s article now believe, on the basis of that trumped-up open letter and unfounded claims of “violence,” that it is so deeply transphobic it warranted an unusual apology from the journal that published it.
Nothing is quite as entertaining, or savage, as lefties turning on their fellows.