“My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi,” said white actor Steve Martin in The Jerk. Speaking of which and as you’ve probably heard, the above is also essentially the story of Rachel Dolezal (shown), the just-resigned ex-head of the Spokane NAACP who, it was revealed last week, has been masquerading as a black person.
That’s right — she’s white.
How did Dolezal get away with such a brash deception? Precisely by being brash. As American Thinker’s Danusha Goska tells us:
Dolezal's skin is café-au-lait-colored; this shade is perhaps the product of self-tanning or other ruses. She claimed to be the daughter of dark-skinned black man, and the mother of two dark-skinned black boys. Dolezal is neither. Rachel Dolezal's parents went public with photos. In fact she is naturally peaches-and-cream complexioned, blonde-haired, and green-eyed. The two boys she tried to pass off as her sons are her adopted brothers. She was born in Montana, but not in a teepee, as she claimed. She did not have to use bows and arrows to hunt her own food. She had never been in South Africa, though she claimed she was raised there. Her parents did not discipline her with "baboon whips" similar to those used during slavery days. They did not, as she claimed, punish her for being dark-skinned.
And there’s much, much more. Dolezal apparently frizzed up her hair, claimed to be the victim of numerous anti-black “hate crimes” (the police found no evidence), and would write movingly about how things such as Twelve Years a Slave and the Eric Garner death touched her, deeply, as a black person.
But while Dolezal’s brazenness may be singular, she’s not alone. The very Germanic-looking Senator Elizabeth Warren was dubbed “Fauxcahontas” after it was discovered in 2012 that she falsely claimed Cherokee ancestry. And ex-University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill also was found to be a counterfeit Indian, a status that landed him an ethnic-studies professorship despite lacking the doctorate usually required.
Then we have that other famous figure claiming to be a member of a group (and changing his appearance accordingly) that receives preferences: ex-Olympic star Bruce Jenner.
Many have already drawn the comparison between so-called “transgenderism” and what could be called “trans-racialism,” but, apparently, none before Dolezal herself. In fact, she described herself as “trans-racial” in 2009 in a Coeur d’Alene Press story, reports GOPUSA. And this thesis has received some academic support. As CBS2 writes, “NYU sociology professor Ann Morning told CBS2’s Jiang that just like some people are transgender, others may be trans-racial — identifying more with a race other than their own. Dolezal grew up with four adopted black siblings, and was briefly married to a black man. ‘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,’ Morning said.”
This is interesting because Morning is unlikely to be in the category of “conservative bloggers and the like,” whom the Gothamist claims “are out of their depth” in making the transgender/trans-racial comparison. Perhaps the site’s point is that transgenderism has a scientific basis. But what is the “science”? As I reported last year:
Here’s what Eve Glicksman wrote at the American Psychological Association’s website: “Treatment only is considered for transgender people who experience gender dysphoria — a feeling of intense distress that one's body is not consistent with the gender he or she feels they are, explains Walter Bockting, PhD, a clinical psychologist and co-director of the LGBT Health Initiative at Columbia University Medical Center.”
… [And] to be considered officially, authentically “transgender,” the feelings must be troublesome, the feelings must be persistent, and the feelings must be present for more than a year.
… The point is that there is no physical test to determine that “gender dysphoria” has some kind of inborn basis and isn’t purely psychological — none. Zilch. Zero. Nada.
Is this at all scientific? Imagine a person approached a cardiologist and claimed to have troublesome, persistent, and long-present feelings that he has heart disease. Would the physician say, “Well, then, I’ll cut open your chest cavity and perform a triple-bypass!”? The malpractice suit would be staggering.
Yet if this is now acceptable diagnostic practice — if objective reality means nothing in the face of the subjective (feelings) — is the diagnosis of trans-racialism really unreasonable? We accept that a person can have sincere feelings of “gender dysphoria”; we know that Body Integrity Identity Disorder (i.e., the strong sense that a body part, such as a leg, doesn’t belong on your body) involves sincere feelings, and some doctors have actually amputated on that basis; and no small number of people believe they’re Napoleon, the Queen of England, or someone else they’re not. Is it so hard to fathom that a person could have an external appearance that doesn’t match his sincere perception of his true race?
Yet this idea certainly raises some ire. For example, a man claiming to be a woman and writing under the name Meredith Talusan at The Guardian passionately opined, "The people using her [Dolezal’s] mistakes to try to ‘understand’ or ‘explain’ the experiences of trans people have none of my empathy; they’re simply propagating the stereotype that trans people are out to fool the rest of you. I don’t need to pass as a woman the way Dolezal needs to pass as black, for the simple reason that I am a woman."
Now, since Dolezal had some years ago said to an adopted brother, “Don’t blow my cover,” thoroughly delusional she is not. In fact, given her lies’ magnitude, she could even be a sociopath. It also seems that informed people generally accept that “transgender” individuals’ feelings are almost invariably real. What is questioned is the notion that feelings should be used as indicators of objective reality.
Interestingly, though, Talusan also wrote, “Race is a medieval European invention…. Race is a social construction.” Note that the latter was precisely the “scientific” and fashionable narrative for decades with respect to “gender,” beginning with Dr. John Money’s “gender neutrality” theory in the 1960s — “gender” was just a “social construction.” But this started to change in the '90s, and telling a “trans” person today that his gender could be whatever society conditioned it to be can bring accusations of bigotry.
Just as significantly, however, why should Dolezal or anyone else be constrained by a mere social construction? If there’s no objective reality behind race — if it’s all just pretend — why can’t the individual decide what pretense to adopt?
In fact, the apparently deceitful Dolezal aside, one could argue that society’s current “bigotry” and refusal to “recognize” trans-racialism can force someone experiencing it to live a lie. Aren’t we told that this is precisely the effect of stigmatizing homosexuality and transgenderism?
The reality is that much of this is driven by fashions. If the idea of trans-racialism became more known and accepted, it’s predictable that more people would find themselves experiencing sincere feelings of being a different race. That’s just Psychology 101.
And I personally will lead the charge. The next time I must indicate race on an official document, I intend to check “black.” After all, if objective reality means nothing and feelings reign, we can be whatever we want to be.