Transracial (identity)

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Rachel Dolezal has been described as a white woman who identifies as African American.

Transracial people are individuals who assert a racial identity for themselves which differs from their birth race.[1][2]

A prominent example of a person who identifies as transracial is Rachel Dolezal, who is of white ancestry but now identifies as a black woman.[1][2] Martina Big, who was featured on Maury in September 2017, is another white woman who identifies as black.[3][4] Big has had tanning injections administered by a physician to darken her skin and hair.[3][4] Another example of a transracial person is Ja Du who was born as a caucasian man named Adam Wheeler but now considers himself Filipino. He created a Facebook page and community for others who believe they are transracial.[5][6]

In April 2017, the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia published an academic paper in support of recognizing transracialism and drawing parallels between "transracial" and transgender individuals.[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.[7][8]

The use of the term "transracial" to describe changing racial identity has been criticized by the transracial adoption community. The term "transracial" has historically been used in the adoption community to describe parents who adopt a child of a different race.[9][10][11] Members of the transracial adoption community assert that the term "transracial" has a specific historical meaning related to such adoptions, and argue that the term is being "appropriated and co-opted" in a manner that harms the transracial adoption community.[11] In June 2015, about two dozen transracial adoptees, transracial parents and academics published an open letter that condemned the use of the term "transracial" to describe white women assuming cultural markers to identify as black, calling such use "erroneous, ahistorical, and dangerous."[11][12][13]

See also[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.
  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.
  3. ^ 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. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Valens, Ana (September 22, 2017). "White woman who 'transitioned' races to Black is back". The Daily Dot. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  5. ^ "Man born white explains why he now identifies as Filipino". The Independent. 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  6. ^ Salo, Jackie (2017-11-13). "'Transracial' man was born white, identifies as Filipino". New York Post. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  7. ^ "Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities". Princeton University Press. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  8. ^ 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. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  9. ^ Valby, Karen. "The Realities of Raising a Kid of a Different Race". Time. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  10. ^ NPR Staff (January 26, 2014). "Growing Up 'White,' Transracial Adoptee Learned To Be Black". NPR. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c Kai-Hwa Wang, Frances (June 17, 2015). "Adoptees to Rachel Dolezal: You're Not Transracial". NBC News. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  12. ^ Moyer, Justin Wm. (June 17, 2015). "Rachel Dolezal draws ire of transracial adoptees". Washington Post. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  13. ^ Kimberly McKee, PhD; et al. (June 16, 2015). "An Open Letter: Why Co-opting "Transracial" in the Case of Rachel Dolezal is Problematic". Retrieved December 17, 2017.

Further reading[edit]