In Defense of Transracialism

In Defense of Transracialism

Hypatia: A Journal Of Feminist Philosophy
Volume 32, Issue 2 (Spring 2017)
Pages 263–278
DOI: 10.1111/hypa.12327

Rebecca Tuvel, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee

Former NAACP chapter head Rachel Dolezal’s attempted transition from the white to the black race occasioned heated controversy. Her story gained notoriety at the same time that Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair, signaling a growing acceptance of transgender identity. Yet criticisms of Dolezal for misrepresenting her birth race indicate a widespread social perception that it is neither possible nor acceptable to change one’s race in the way it might be to change one’s sex. Considerations that support transgenderism seem to apply equally to transracialism. Although Dolezal herself may or may not represent a genuine case of a transracial person, her story and the public reaction to it serve helpful illustrative purposes.

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