Rachel Dolezal is NOT trans-racial.
Let me repeat this again: Rachel Dolezal is not trans-racial.
She is not having an identity crisis nor is she having any form of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). She is not creating or paving the way for a new form of self-identifcation nor is she a misunderstood individual, nor is what she has done at all similar to that of the experiences of the transgender community.
To make it easier, the term trans-racial does not in fact mean what so many American’s seem to think: “The term originates from adoptive and academic circles to describe the very lived experience of children raised in homes that are phenotypically and culturally different from their birth”. For example, if you are a child of color who is adopted by a couple that differs from your own ethnic background, you are trans-racial. THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO RACHEL DOLEZAL’S GROSS ABUSE OF WHITE PRIVILEGE.
Rachel Dolezal is white. She was born white and her parents are white; she chose, for whatever reason, to pretend to be a black woman. She became an activist and spokesperson for black women and gained certain privileges and professional accolades. She sued Howard University for racial discrimination as a white woman and lost the case.
Rachel Dolezal CHOSE to be black and lied about her life; through alleged hate crimes, discrimination, and other actions that when examined were revealed to be self done. Rachel Dolezal lied, simple and point-blank, for her own gain and when she was found out, tried to justify her actions. This is the most obvious example of white privilege I have ever witnessed and no one can convince me it isn’t. A great discussion about this with Anderson Cooper and panelists ensued talking about this happened on CNN.
Her statement that she “identifies as black” makes me question what that even means. Is there a checklist to be a particular ethnic group? What does it even mean to “feel” or “identify” as black? I don’t wake up every morning and think, “Hmm, I feel white today” then gain the privilege that comes with whiteness. I am Latina and while I may appear to be ethnically ambiguous, I am constantly aware that I am not white through having to prove my intelligence and merit.
I do not have the privileges that Rachel Dolezal is showcasing; I cannot choose my ethnic background as she has. I cannot do anything to change both my ethnic markers nor my upbringing as a Latina cis-gender woman within the United States. I cannot, as Rachel Dolezal can and could eventually do so, wash off my skin color and change my hair to be of another ethnic persuasion.
As for the argument that this is exactly what Caitlyn Jenner has done, that is an erroneous comparison. The transgender experience is NOT something that individuals go through for privilege or accolades–it is a personal experience that differs for each individual. Coming out as a transgender man or woman is not done for gain but for their own happiness and their own self; it is not for anyone else. Caitlyn Jenner is not doing this for money, despite reports on her upcoming reality show and the money she will be making. She has finally accepted her truth and to suggest that Rachel Dolezal is experiencing the same exact things is negating the experiences for both transgender individuals and for black women/people of color.
Also, the suggestion that transmen and transwoman aren’t real is so fucking insulting and egregious. As someone who suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a menstrual disorder where the body does not produce enough estrogen which can cause irregular menstrual cycles or no menstrual cycles, body hair, weight gain, and more, do I meet this alleged criteria of being a “real” woman? Does my having PCOS negate my being a “real” woman? Does a real woman have to be able to have children? Because many women who were born with medical disorders that prevents them from having biological children may argue that not having children doesn’t negate your experience as a woman. Also, if being a real woman means that you have to become a mother what about those of us who choose to not become mothers? Have I suddenly stopped being a “real” woman? Do I need to have some sort of identifier to prove that I’m a real woman? Is my experience of being catcalled, harassed, and constantly being aware of my biological sex enough?
I find it grossly ignorant for folks to suggest that Rachel Dolezal is misunderstood; she could have chosen to be an ally and done the same things. She could have been honest and said that she is a white woman who wants equality for all, regardless of color or creed. She could have helped paved the way as a white professor teaching about racism and also about white privilege at a university; she could have chosen so many other routes other than this one.
Rachel Dolezal does not have to be afraid of being born a person of color. She doesn’t wake up every morning wondering if today will be the day she is killed for being guilty of being born a person of color; she doesn’t have to worry that her life could end simply because she was born in a country that privileges white over other ethnicities. Those of who were born a person of color are assaulted, insulted, killed, and mistreated for the simple reality of being born. We did not choose to be a person of color; we did not choose to live in a country that constantly places individuals in categories.
Rachel Dolezal can go home and wash off the self-tanner, take out her weave, and reclaim her whiteness without a pause. She has arrogantly used her white privilege and made a mockery of the struggles for all people of color. She has made a mockery of the social justice movement in regards to both race equality and gender equality; she has mocked the valid experiences of actual trans-racial individuals. She has done this for reasons that I cannot fathom but yet has also gained professional accolades.
Rachel Dolezal is not trans-racial; she is not anything more than a gross example of white privilege at its finest.