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Why Can’t I Be Transracial?

Why Can’t I Be Transracial?
closeup of a young caucasian person with a question mark in front of her or his face, with the ocean in the background

Speaking at Oberlin College in 2001, transgender activist Lynn Hyckman stated:

The basic assumption of transgenderism is the transgressing of gender norms. Whether that means completely passing from one end to the other, or finding a space that combines or defies the binary in our society, it comes down to exploring outside of the norm you were assigned because of the discomfort that you feel in it.

This prompted me to ask in 2011:

But why stop with combining or defying sexual categories? Why not create self-identified categories of race or color or nationality? How about, “Even though I was assigned the ethnic identity of a white American at birth, I identify myself as a black Viking.” Why not? Perhaps on the inside I really am a black Viking! Or why limit our self-identification to earthly categories. Why should that boundary be sacrosanct? Why not identify yourself as an extraterrestrial (or maybe “interterrestrial,” combining both earthly and alien identities)? Are ridiculous concepts such as these all that different from “the transgressing of gender norms” and “def[ying] the binary in our society”?

Of course, I understood the parallels were real but inexact:

I do realize, of course, that there are people who truly struggle with their sexual identity, and I'm fully aware that others are born with indefinite (or dual) sexual identities. In no way do I intend to minimize those struggles. Given the choice, however, of embracing the philosophy behind this transgender, genderqueer, omnisexual rhetoric seriously or of raising my voice to saying that something is seriously amiss, I take the latter choice.

White to Filipino

Well, as outlandish as these words may have sounded in 2011, they can hardly sound outlandish today.

Not with the massive strides made by transactivism in the last few years. Not with a white woman (Rachel Dolezal) identifying as black, hence transracial. Not with some people (allegedly hundreds of thousands) identifying as part animal, hence transspecies. (Just look up otherkin or therian.)

And not with the news that "a man in Florida who was born white now identifies as Filipino as part of a reportedly growing 'transracial' community."

Note the last three words of that sentence carefully: a growing 'transracial' community.

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The man was given the name Adam at birth but goes by Ja Du. He "said he’s part of a growing 'transracial' community in which people are born one race, but identify with another."

He explained that "he truly identifies with the Filipino culture. When he's around its music and food, 'I feel like I'm in my own skin.'"

"I'd watch The History Channel sometimes for hours," he went on. "You know nothing else intrigued me more but things about Filipino culture." And this is part of the reason he now identifies as Filipino.

Why Not?

But why not? If Bruce Jenner is a woman and Rachel Dolezal is black (with supporters), why can't a Caucasian American be a Filipino?

If desire is substituted for reality, there’s no end to the social madness that follows. (This video on "The Man Who Became a Woman Then a Dragon" documents some extreme examples.)

There are even medical professionals who affirm the possibility of being transracial. After all, if it makes you happy, why not?

It's one thing to enjoy a culture. It's another thing to imagine that you are biologically part of that culture.

In the words of psychologist Dr. Stacey Sheckner, "If someone feels that they feel at home with a certain religion, a certain race, a certain culture, I think that if that's who they really feel inside, life is about finding out who you are. The more knowledge you have of yourself, the happier you can be."

She added, "If that's who they are, and they want to celebrate it and enjoy it, then you have to think what harm is it doing? All they want to do is throw themselves into that culture and celebrate it."

But it's one thing to enjoy, throw yourself into and celebrate a culture. It's another thing to imagine that you are biologically part of that culture. Is there no such thing as "reality check" anymore? In many circles, the answer is no.

It’s Got to Stop Somewhere

That's why there are women's schools accepting male-to-female transgenders. That’s why male-to-female athletes are breaking women's sports records. It’s why women's prisons are housing biological males who identify as women (but are still attracted to women). Is it that far of a leap, then, to imagine white identifying as blacks or Caucasians as Asians?

Transgender identity, or gender dysphoria (formerly called gender identity disorder) is determined by psychological evaluation alone. There is no biological test for it. So why not something similar for being transracial? If I can convince the doctor that I really identify as a black Viking, why not?

Again, I don’t mean to minimize the pain of those who struggle with gender identity. Nor do I mean to denigrate Ja Du's love for everything Philippine. I'm just saying this has got to stop somewhere, and it has got to stop soon. Otherwise, we might all have to identify as Martians and go populate Mars. Unless, of course, we actually are Martians.

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