DC Trawler

In 2017 America, Everybody Gets To Be Whoever They Want… Except Rachel Dolezal


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Rachel Dolezal is unemployed, living on food stamps, and about to lose her house. And a lot of people are overjoyed about it.

Why? Why do you hate her so much?

Decca Aitkenhead at the Guardian talked to Dolezal, and she asks a question that seems perfectly fair to me:

If the narrative of fluid, non-binary gender identity is now widely accepted, Dolezal believes the same should apply to race. “It’s very similar, in so far as: this is a category I’m born into, but this is really how I feel.”

Is racial identity as fluid as gender? “It’s more so. Because it wasn’t even biological to begin with. It was always a social construct.”

Trans commentators have been incensed by the suggestion of parallels. “Transgender people transition out of medical necessity,” wrote one. “Dolezal’s ‘transition’ to black, on the other hand, is surrounded by layers of deception.” They argue that her colour was a choice, so cannot be analogous to their gender identity. But if we believe someone born without ovaries or a womb can be a woman, and accept radical surgery as a legitimate corrective necessity, is it so different for a woman who is born white but feels black to reposition herself on the racial spectrum?

For a couple of years now, people have been yelling at me for deferring to human biology over the whims of Bruce Jenner. He can call himself whatever he wants, but he can’t make me change his pronouns for him. And yet the same people who call me a bigot for refusing to deny science? They’re the ones who say Rachel Dolezal can’t be any damn race she wants.

It’s different because… well, because they want it to be different.

Dolezal’s biggest mistake wasn’t pretending to be a black woman. It was that she didn’t pretend to be a black man. Then she’d be a hero!

Either our biology defines us or it doesn’t. Either we’re shackled to these bodies, these identities, for our entire lives or we aren’t. Which is it?

If you’re going to yell at me every time I say “Bruce Jenner,” then I get to call Rachel Dolezal a strong, proud black woman. And if you don’t like it, you can go non-gender-specifically screw yourself.