Transracial (identity)

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Rachel Dolezal has been described as a white person who identifies as black.

Transracial people identify as a different race than the one associated with their biological ancestry.[1][2] They may adjust their appearance to make themselves look more like that race, and they may participate in activities associated with that race.

Controversy over the term[edit]

Historically, transracial has been used to describe parents who adopt a child of a different race.[3][4][5]

The use of the term to describe changing racial identity has been criticized by members of the transracial adoption community. Kevin H. Vollmers, executive director of an adoption non-profit, said the term is being "appropriated and co-opted" and that this is a "slap in the face" to transracial adoptees.[5] In June 2015, about two dozen transracial adoptees, transracial parents and academics published an open letter in which they condemned the new usage as "erroneous, ahistorical, and dangerous."[5][6][7]

In April 2017, the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia published an academic paper in support of recognizing transracialism and drawing parallels between transracial and transgender identity.[1] Publication of this paper resulted in considerable controversy. The subject was also explored in Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities, a 2016 book by UCLA sociology professor Rogers Brubaker, who argues that the phenomenon, though offensive to many, is psychologically real to many people, and has many examples throughout history.[8][9]

Braden Hill, an Aboriginal Australian at Edith Cowan University criticised "transracialism", writing: "There is a difference between affirming your gender as a trans person and choosing to live and appropriate another culture."[10]

Examples[edit]

  • Rachel Dolezal is known for identifying as a black woman despite having been born to white parents.[1][2][10] She successfully passed as black, to the extent that she took over leadership of the Spokane branch of the NAACP in 2014, a year before her "outing" in 2015.
  • Grey Owl, a British-born conservationist who publicly identified as Native American. His first wife revealed his ancestry posthumously.[11]
  • Moorish Science Temple of America members must recognize their alleged Moorish origins by declaring their symbolic nationality as Moroccan without proof or documentation of said nationality or ethnicity.[12]
  • Korla Pandit, an African-American musician who posed as an Indian from New Delhi in both his public and private life.[13] Pandit was born John Roland Redd.[14]
  • Martina Big, who was featured on Maury in September 2017, is a woman of white ancestry who identifies as black.[15][16] Big has had tanning injections administered by a physician to darken her skin and hair.[15][16]
  • Ja Du, a trans woman who was born to white parents but considers herself Filipina, created a Facebook page and community for others who self-identify as transracial.[17][18][19]
  • Jessica Krug, a woman born to white parents who had been passing as a black woman for her entire professional life.[20][21] Krug is an associate professor of history and Africana Studies at George Washington University. After her ancestry was revealed she resigned and stopped identifying as African.[22]
  • Treasure Richards, a black teenage girl, gained national attention when she appeared on Dr. Phil. She claimed that she was white because body parts such as her hair, nose, and lips resembled a white person's instead of a black person's among others. [23] Her sister cast doubts on the veracity of the claims.[24]
  • Oli London, a British influencer and singer who identifies as Korean, and has had numerous plastic surgeries to confirm their current racial identity. London modelled their appearance on their idol, BTS singer Jimin.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Tuvel, Rebecca (2017). "In Defense of Transracialism". Hypatia. 32 (2): 263–278. doi:10.1111/hypa.12327. ISSN 0887-5367. S2CID 151630261.
  2. ^ a b Brubaker, Rogers (2015). "The Dolezal affair: race, gender, and the micropolitics of identity". Ethnic and Racial Studies. 39 (3): 414–448. doi:10.1080/01419870.2015.1084430. ISSN 0141-9870. S2CID 146583317.
  3. ^ Valby, Karen. "The Realities of Raising a Kid of a Different Race". Time. Archived from the original on December 18, 2017. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  4. ^ "Growing Up 'White,' Transracial Adoptee Learned To Be Black". NPR. January 26, 2014. Archived from the original on December 25, 2017. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Kai-Hwa Wang, Frances (June 17, 2015). "Adoptees to Rachel Dolezal: You're Not Transracial". NBC News. Archived from the original on January 1, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  6. ^ Moyer, Justin Wm. (June 17, 2015). "Rachel Dolezal draws ire of transracial adoptees". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 24, 2017. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  7. ^ Kimberly McKee, PhD; et al. (June 16, 2015). "An Open Letter: Why Co-opting "Transracial" in the Case of Rachel Dolezal is Problematic". Archived from the original on March 13, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  8. ^ "Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities". Princeton University Press. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  9. ^ Brubaker, Rogers (2016). "Introduction" (PDF). Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. pp. 1–11. ISBN 9780691172354. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 27, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Horne, Marc (October 12, 2021). "Members can identify as black, disabled or female, university union insists". The Times. Archived from the original on October 13, 2021. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  11. ^ Onyanga-Omara, Jane (September 19, 2013). "Grey Owl: Canada's great conservationist and imposter". BBC News. Archived from the original on December 29, 2018. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  12. ^ Koura, Chloe (May 27, 2017). "The American Religion That Makes Its Members 'Moroccans'". Morocco World News. Archived from the original on July 12, 2021. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  13. ^ Wilder, Amy (November 22, 2015). "Man of mystery: Documentary sheds light on enigmatic Columbia entertainer". Columbia Daily Tribune. Archived from the original on May 11, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  14. ^ Bradner, Liesl (September 12, 2015). "How a Black Man From Missouri Transformed Himself Into the Indian Liberace". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Lubin, Rhian (September 22, 2017). "White glamour model with size 32S breasts who spent £50k on cosmetic surgery now 'identifies as a black woman'". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on October 1, 2017. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Valens, Ana (September 22, 2017). "White woman who 'transitioned' races to Black is back". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on September 29, 2017. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  17. ^ Yam, Kimberly (November 15, 2017). "Filipinos Aren't Happy With This White Woman Claiming To Be Filipina". HuffPost. Archived from the original on June 2, 2020. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  18. ^ "Man born white explains why he now identifies as Filipino". The Independent. November 14, 2017. Archived from the original on December 31, 2018. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  19. ^ Salo, Jackie (November 13, 2017). "'Transracial' man was born white, identifies as Filipino". New York Post. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  20. ^ Lumpkin, Lauren; Svrluga, Susan (September 3, 2020). "White GWU professor admits she falsely claimed Black identity". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 4, 2020. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  21. ^ Noor, Poppy (September 3, 2020). "White US professor admits she has pretended to be Black for years". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 3, 2020. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  22. ^ Asmelash, Leah. "Professor who lied about being Black resigns from George Washington University". CNN. Archived from the original on September 10, 2020. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  23. ^ Bennett, Jessica (October 25, 2018). "Black Teen Claims She's 'Transracial' White Woman, Hates Black People". Ebony. Archived from the original on September 20, 2020. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  24. ^ Shamsian, Jacob. "'She wanted to be a meme': The racist black teen featured on 'Dr. Phil' is a fraud, according to her sister". Insider. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
  25. ^ Neumann, Laiken (June 21, 2021). "'This is my new official flag': White influencer says they identify as Korean". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on June 25, 2021. Retrieved June 25, 2021.

Further reading[edit]