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Transracial (identity)

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A transracial person is one who identifies as a different race than the one associated with their biological ancestry. They may adjust their appearance to make themselves look more like that race, and may participate in activities associated with that race. Use of the word transracial to describe this is new and has been criticized, because the word was historically used to describe a person raised by adoptive parents of a different ethnic or racial background, such as a Black child adopted and raised by a white couple.

History and usage[edit]

Historically, the term transracial was used solely to describe parents who adopt a child of a different race.[1][2][3]

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.[3] 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."[3][4][5]

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.[6] 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]

Examples[edit]

  • Rachel Dolezal, known for identifying as a Black woman despite having been born to white parents,[6][9][10] successfully passed as Black, to the extent that she took over leadership of the Spokane branch of the NAACP in 2014, a year before she was "outed" in 2015
  • Martina Big, who was featured on Maury in September 2017, a woman of white ancestry who identifies as Black,[11][12][13] has had melanotan injections administered by a physician to darken her skin and hair[11][12][13]
  • Jessica Krug, a white Jewish-American woman who identified as various Black and Afro-Latina ethnicities over time, including "North African Blackness," "US rooted Blackness," and "Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness"[14][15]
  • Oli London, British influencer and singer who previously identified as Korean, and had numerous plastic surgeries to confirm his racial identity, modelled his appearance on his idol, BTS singer Jimin[16]
  • Korla Pandit, African-American musician who posed as an Indian from New Delhi in both his public and private life, was born John Roland Redd[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Tuvel, Rebecca (2017). "In Defense of Transracialism". Hypatia. 32 (2): 263–278. doi:10.1111/hypa.12327. ISSN 0887-5367. S2CID 151630261.
  7. ^ Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities. Princeton University Press. October 4, 2016. ISBN 9780691172354. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. 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. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 27, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ a b Bido, Tatiana (March 20, 2018). "Woman Totally Changes Skin Tone Using Illegal and Harmful 'Barbie Drug'". Yahoo Life. Retrieved January 6, 2024.
  14. ^ "The Layered Deceptions of Jessica Krug, the Black-Studies Professor Who Hid That She Is White". The New Yorker. September 12, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  15. ^ 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 5, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Spickard, Paul (June 2022). "Shape Shifting: Toward a Theory of Racial Change". Genealogy. 6 (2): 48. doi:10.3390/genealogy6020048. ISSN 2313-5778.

Further reading[edit]