Jesse Singal sees no problem with transracialism

August 10, 2023 • 10:15 am

Not long ago I pondered the question of whether someone could be “transracial”, saying that they feel like (and assuming the accoutrements of) a member of a race that was not their natal race. After all, if you can be transgender, why not transracial? Rachel Dolezal, a white woman from Spokane who passed for black, is the paradigmatic case of transracialism. But her attempt to be identified as black was rejected by everyone, and she was fired as head of the local NAACP.

Despite that, philosopher Rebecca Tuvel analyzed the transracial question thoroughly, and concluded that “similar arguments that support transgenderism support transracialism.” (For that Tuvel was also demonized, with calls for her paper on the topic to be withdrawn.)

As I reported above, most of the people who want to transition races are trying to adopt an East Asian identity instead of a white one. But as Jesse Singal (below) and I noted, the NBC article by Emi Tuyetnhi Tran about this phenomenon was not in favor of it, copiously quoting critics of transracialism but not a single supporter.

Click to read Singal’s piece on his Substack site:

Singal quotes some of the critics of transracialism, whose arguments don’t make sense to either him or me. Below are quotes from the NBC article:

Experts agree race is not genetic. But they contend that even though race is a cultural construct, it is impossible to change your race because of the systemic inequalities inherent to being born into a certain race.

David Freund, a historian of race and politics and an associate professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, corroborates the idea that a “biological race” does not exist. What we know today as “race” is a combination of inherited characteristics and cultural traditions passed down through generations, he said.

In addition, Freund said, the modern concept of race is inseparable from the systemic racial hierarchy hundreds of years in the making. Simply put, changing races is not possible, because “biological races” themselves are not real.

Just to point out one bit of mishigass: if you can change gender from male to female, aren’t there “systemic equalities to being born into that gender”? And of course being female is inherited but also comes with a “culture” (societal expectations).

At any rate, Singal is puzzled why transgenderism is not only accepted but applauded, while transracialism is throughly damned:

Maybe I’m an ignoramus on this subject, but it certainly seems like race can be “changed” in a sense in certain outlying instances, at least. A Sephardic Jew who traces his recent lineage to Iraq might “look” “blacker” than a light-skinned African American whose grandparents are all from Nigeria, by the standards of the made-up racial category of American blackness. The Sephardic Jew could perhaps “change his race” by simply starting to claim to people he’s just met that he’s black (when the subject comes up), and the African American could pass as white by doing something similar. In this situation, haven’t they effectively “changed their races,” regardless of the particular “systematic inequalities” they face?

I don’t see why “outlying instances,” where you have some phenotypic traits of the race you want to assume, are the only defensible ones. After all, there are plenty of transgender women who look not like women but men, with beards penises, and so on. Singal continues:

That being said, I can’t even tell whether my example applies, because the article doesn’t really define what is meant by “changing race” in the first place. If race is just a social construct — supposedly the progressive orthodox understanding — why couldn’t you change it? If, on the other hand, all Tran is saying is that the “listen to this subliminal audio to change your DNA” part of this online trend is nonsense, then sure, of course that’s true, but wait, I thought race isn’t genetic anyway, so of course that can’t be what’s meant by “changing race,” except race is somewhat genetic (“inherited characteristics”), and. . . well, I’m kind of lost. It’s hard even to  hold this all in your head at the same time.

But despite all this confusion, the article is very clear that whatever race is, and whatever changing your race is, you can’t do it — it’s impossible. That very term is used twice. It’s very important that people recognize that while race is (mostly) a fiction (except when it isn’t, because it has a partial genetic footprint), you just can’t change yours.

Why? I’ve never quite understood that. The article contains a lot of somewhat perfunctory-seeming moralizing about how some people are offended by the idea of someone changing race, the overarching theory, I think, being that you can’t “identify into” an oppressed group, but “this thing offends people” is obviously not the same as “this thing is impossible to do.”

In the end, there is no rational argument against transracialism that I can see that isn’t also opposition to transgenderism. And since I have no beef with transgenderism, neither do I with transracialism, so long as it’s honest. And I think Rachel Dolezal was honest.

The real reason that people oppose changing races, and oppose it no matter what kind of change you’re making, is that for some reason transracialism offends people, as if race is a proprietary characteristic, somehow coded in your being, rather than, as transracial opponents contend, a social construct. And even if race is biologically real—and Luana Maroja and I contend it is to some extent, so is sex. If you argue that a biological man can be considered a real woman, or be accepted as one, why can’t a white person be accepted as black?

Singal argues—and he may be right—that race has become such an important part of people’s identities that it simply cannot be changed, though that doesn’t seem like a good reason to me. After all, gender is also an important part of people’s identities. And so Singal argues that people should take transracialism seriously, and, if they oppose it, give us serious arguments why. He ends with a jeremiad against the ubiquity of race as the essential characteristic of people:

It seems pretty obvious to me that the only way out of racism, in the long run, is for people to recognize that race is mostly made up. Even if it’s not a complete fiction (see haplogroups), of course it’s bad to see people as “black” or “Asian” or “Latino” rather than, first and foremost, individual human beings. These categories are much too broad and they’ve done far more harm than good.

But this view feels moribund in progressive spaces. Instead, it’s important to talk about race all the time. Someone with dark skin is capital-b Black, and this is a very important part of their identity, because race is an essential component of each individual’s identity. Race is so important that we don’t dare violate its sanctity by crossing boundaries that are best left alone.

Doesn’t it seem obvious that this obsession — that’s what it is, at this point — is going to have downsides, in the long run? Shouldn’t mainstream journalism outlets demonstrate some appetite to actually investigate this worldview? Or is the point of mainstream journalism to simply remind everyone, over and over and over, what good progressives are supposed to believe?

52 thoughts on “Jesse Singal sees no problem with transracialism

  1. Since it is totally unclear just how many or what races there are, then it is not so obvious that you can’t change your race. People change their nationality all the time. In addition, ‘Hispanic’ is considered a racial identity in the US, I understand. Since ‘Hispanic’, if it means anything, means ‘Spanish speaking’ if you speak fluent Spanish does that make you ‘Hispanic’? What about a mixed-race person who is roughly 50-50 black and white (father black, mother white, or vice versa)? Who is to say that they can’t decide that they are not black but white, or vice versa? It would seem to me to be a heck of a lot easier in many cases to change your race than to change your gender.

    1. South Africa had racial identification officials during apartheid. I just hope we don’t go down that route here.

    2. These points of course underscore the ‘social construct’ part of ‘race’.
      In the US, by tradition, ‘Hispanic’ does not mean ‘Spanish speaking’ as you suggest; the social construct instead means something more like ‘descendants of people from former Spanish colonies’ including Mexicans, Cubans, and various Central American countries.
      And the social construct for ‘black’ includes anyone with any known recent African ancestors (the ‘one-drop rule’). In such cases the construct eclipses the underlying genetics.

    3. I’m a former US Census Enumerator, and the US Census considers “Hispanic” to be an ethnicity, not a race, Thus, one can identify as a Black Hispanic, for example, from the Dominican Republic; or a white Hispanic, say, from Peru.

    4. What about a mixed-race person who is roughly 50-50 black and white (father black, mother white, or vice versa)? Who is to say that they can’t decide that they are not black but white, or vice versa?

      The US has (going back to colonial times before there was a US) always operated under a system of hypodescent. Although we no longer strictly enforce the so-called “one drop” rule, anyone with discernably non-white features or skin tone is automatically assigned by society at large to the racial group traditionally deemed to be subordinate or inferior, be it black or Asian or south Asian or native American or Inuit or what have you. Even though these assignments no longer carry the same stigma they once did, they form nearly as much an iron law as they ever did.

  2. I strongly suspect that even if transracialism’is accepted, it won’t really help black people (yes, some light-skinned black/biracial people will be able to escape racism, but that’s always been true) since racists care about phenotypical characteristics, not how someone identifies. I suspect that pretty much every transracial person will be a young, privileged white person who wants to feel oppressed (although there might be a real- life Uncle Ruckus out there who identifies as white.)

      1. I bet many colleges will find a way to circumvent the AA ruling, given that the Biden DOE (whose civil rights arm is run by the woke fanatic Catharine Lhamon) probably has little interest in enforcing it.

  3. In Toronto the English public school board (TDSB) is changing their entrance to specialty high schools from merit to lottery with 20% of the places set aside for “students self-identifying as First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Black, Latin American and Middle Eastern”
    Self-identifying could imply a student can choose how one identifies. This is only the first year for this so as far as I know there hasn’t been problems with the students’ self identification as they won’t start arriving in class till September but what a mess this could produce if they start challenging students self identification.

    1. Fifty-eight Canadian universities are signatories to the Scarborough Charter and are ramping up efforts to hire hundreds of new professors. Those jobs will be advertised only to academics who self-identify as black or indigenous. Approximately zero of those universities have a process in place to ask questions about those identities. Expect many newly-discovered racial identities among the applicants, and a lot of uncomfortable questions on search committees about whether some applicants are really black enough, and who the pretendians are.

  4. “Race is a social construct with no basis in reality…” – J. Singal

    This is an inaccurate description of social constructionism (creationism) about race, because this view doesn’t deny that race has some basis in reality, but only that its basis is /natural/ reality rather than /social (cultural)/ reality. Racial constructionism (creationism) is different from racial nihilism, according to which there are no races at all—neither natural nor social ones. According to the former, races do exist as sociocultural artifacts.

    1. “Social construction” causes a similar problem in the conflict between Feminism and Queer Theory – feminism posits a socially-constructed “woman” (DeBeauvoir). Queer Theory subverts that position to declare sex a material “prison” to be dissolved and replaced with “gender”(Butler)/”gender identity”(Stoller, Money).

  5. I don’t see a logical reason to oppose transracialism, but since it is a new social phenomenon, some people will be OK with it, others opposed—whether there are good reasons or not. Perhaps transracialism will eventually be accepted as people get used to the idea, as was the case with gay marriage.

  6. I guess you can always identify as the Latino race, unless you look too Asian.

    No, we know why someone like Dolezal is hated. Not because of feigned oppression, but because she took advantage of the obvious privileges that come with being black in America. I recall a Sailer column in which he explained that generations ago, non-white people tried to be classified as white by the American government. Nowadays, immigrants wish to avoid this fate, and the Obama administration was interested in creating a new MENA race, eligible for preferential treatment.

  7. The logical contradiction of Progressive doctrine is dramatized by a one typical behavior of DEI officials: they routinely create a shitstorm over any hint of “blackface”. Remember the business at U. Michigan about a class including Lawrence Olivier’s film of Othello?
    But transgenderism, which is precisely analogous, is OK, and in fact lauded.

    Rather than launching into my usual trans-species joke, I will note why trans-racialism is so verboten. Our host mentions it in passing: “Race is so important that we don’t dare violate its sanctity.” The key word is important, that status prized above everything by the officials, consultants, writers, gurus, and grifters of the DEI industry.

    1. Absolutely, Jonb>. Blackface is verboten, but “womenface”, aka drag, with its fatuous and offensive portrayal of “femininity” is not only acceptable in libraries, kindergartens, etc, but something to be encouraged. Very logical and “progressive”…

    2. The CRT literature (citation on request) specifically calls – not to replace the “class” in Marxism with, but rather “center” race, in CRT formulation.

      I think that is why the materialist “socioeconomic class” will, at best, be put in a footnote or two in CRT’s corpus of literature to use as a Trojan Horse in its Motte and Bailey colonialization of institutions.

  8. I know a woman who is 3/4 white and 1/4 black (her father is white and her mother is 1/2 white). She has blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin. You would not know that she has black ancestry unless she told you. What race is she? Some people would consider her a light-skinned black woman (in the past she would have been called a quadroon or a “high yaller,” but legally she would have been considered black), but some of her black relatives consider her white. Is she both? Neither? How about someone who is 1/2 black? As mixed-race families become more common, the notion that race is a fixed category will be harder to defend.

  9. Materially, sure, why not – make your skin green for all anyone should care.

    But that is not the explanation for “all this”. All “social construction” does is make a thing malleable for ideological subversion. The limits of that are probably ossified in CRT literature at this point. However, the ideological view that makes this conundrum clear is Marxism hear me out I have literature to back this up and poststructural philosophy makes this comment long it’s not my fault:

    Marxism requires an oppressed minority for radical revolutionary spirit (bold is common Marxist language).

    1. Race:

    Herbert Marcuse complained that advanced capitalism killed such spirit in the working class. His solution : look for that spirit in “the ghetto populations”, e.g. Black Liberation at that time (Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man (1964), and An Essay on Liberation (1969). BTW if you wondered why CRT sounds sort-of racist, especially as directed at Blacks in The United States, there’s the origin.

    2. Sex

    The relevant identity “in power” is simply cis-heteronormativity. The relevant minority is composed of destabilized dysphoric individuals, including “trans” and “pre-trans” subjects for radicalization, with a key distinction:

    Due to classical liberalism, homosexual life is acceptable, and no longer a target for radicalization. Yes, homosexuality is less common than heterosexuality but is no longer oppressed in theory and law. To back that up, I cite Queer Theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s How To Raise Your Kids Gay (1991, 2004), or commentary on that in Hannah Dyer, Global Studies of Childhood 2017, Vol. 7(3) 290–302.

    Thus, “detransitioners” or resolved dysphorics who adapt homo or hetero sexuality become the oppressor majority on Marxism’s view. Queer Theory needs people to become Queer, not homosexual or normative. A keen interest in debunking sex (citation on request) would be consistent as well.

    This comment long because that’s how poststructuralist/Marxist literature plays the game. If it comes up again, I’ll just link to this post instead of rewriting it – or make addenda as appropriate.

  10. It seems pretty obvious to me that the only way out of racism, in the long run, is for people to recognize that race is mostly made up. Even if it’s not a complete fiction (see haplogroups), of course it’s bad to see people as “black” or “Asian” or “Latino” rather than, first and foremost, individual human beings. These categories are much too broad and they’ve done far more harm than good.

    It’s interesting that Singal here appears to be recreating a Genderist idea: that the way to eliminate sex discrimination is to deny the sexes exist and say they’re mostly made up. If anyone can identify into a category — be it race or sex — then the category no longer has any power to pigeonhole individuals into stereotypes. The roles of Oppressor and Oppressed will vanish.

    But Singal points out the inherent contradiction. If you identify into a category because this is Who You Are and it’s very, very important that people not think you’re white when you’re really black or not think you’re a man when you’re really a woman — then the categories are strengthened, not weakened. And when the categories become such a Big Deal, along come the stereotypes. It’s inevitable.

    It’s harder I think for Critical Social Justice Advocates (notice how I’m not saying “the woke”) to claim that we are all born with an internal knowledge of whether we’re white, Asian, black, etc because that sounds a bit too obviously racist.

  11. Transracialism is nothing new…
    Look at the popularity of J-roc, the character in the TV-series Trailer Park Boys, who self-identifies as Black, and everybody accepts it going back some twenty years. On a lark, four years ago I looked into this question, as the National Census was going around with its questionnaire. On the website, there’s a page about race, and how you should answer questions about your race, if you choose to do so.

    From the web-page , ALL-CAPS is mine:

    What is Race?

    The data on race were derived from answers to the question on race that was asked of individuals in the United States. The Census Bureau collects racial data in accordance with guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and these data are BASED ON SELF-IDENTIFICATION.

    The racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect A SOCIAL DEFINITION OF RACE recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include racial and national origin OR SOCIOCULTURAL GROUPS. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as “American Indian” and “White.” People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race.

    OMB requires five minimum categories: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

    Aside the fact that at least the US Census agrees you can self-identify, I see nothing wrong with transracialism. In fact, I think it’s an opportunity for culture-jamming the whole woke/DEI movement (which is obviously why they are against self-identification of race). Personally, I self-identify as hispanic, because I love the food, the latin music / dancing, the laid-back culture… but alas, “biologically” I’m Prussian and white as the driven snow!

      1. To get text to be italic, bold, etc. you need to use the html tags. Unfortunately I can’t use them here to show you what I mean as WordPress won’t like it.

        Basically less-than symbol, then i, then greater-than symbol to turn on italics and then less-than symbol, then backslash, then i, then greater-than symbol to turn them off again.

        Bold is the same but with b replacing i. Hope that helps – and makes sense!

    1. Dang it, at the last census I missed my chance to self-identify as one or another of my favorite species. I like to identify as a coatimundi during weekdays, but on weekends I am an asparagus.

  12. “Instead, it’s important to talk about race all the time. Someone with dark skin is capital-b Black, and this is a very important part of their identity, because race is an essential component of each individual’s identity. Race is so important that we don’t dare violate its sanctity by crossing boundaries that are best left alone.”

    Singal is making a very important point. To state the obvious: we have the voluminous and endless discussions of race in its all its aspects because people consider it important regardless of what science says. Racial identity and the resulting tribalism is so important in the United because it explains much of the polarization that is tearing the country apart. But, why is it so important? I think its appeal is due to it creating a sense of self-esteem and self-worth in people that lead lives that are stressed and lack meaning. Young men and women whose lives seem to have no promising future are prime examples of how racially focused extremist groups recruit their membership.

    Fortunately, not all people disaffected with their lives turn to racial identity to find meaning in their lives. Some find meaning by identifying with other groups, such as exhibiting a truly fanatical allegiance to a sports team. How they feel about themselves is reflected in the success of their team. Such a belief is totally irrational, but at least the most zealous fans do not bring AK-47s to the stadium (as of yet) and is relatively benign. In any case, all people seek validation of the worthfulness of their lives. If this cannot be accomplished by individual achievement then they look for external validation. The apparent blessing by society of racial identity as being important is pernicious because it ranks high with religion, ethnic identity and hyper-nationalism as a source of social discord and violence.

  13. The biologic variation that is associated with human populations emerging from different continents is real, but the identities and cultural boundaries that we construct around this variation have little or nothing to do with these biologic differences.

    A close look at the critiques of “racial medicine” prove the point.

    But, one of the most dramatic examples of the cultural nature of “race” was included in our textbook Humans:

    “We know an anthropologist with some African ancestry who is married to a psychologist with only European ancestry; their daughter is called “Black” in the USA. However, when she visited Brazil, she was called “morena” and told she is not “Black” (preta in Brazilian Portuguese). She says, ‘When I got on the plane I was Black but when I got off the plane I was no longer Black!’ Even though the same term—’Black’—is used as a racial category in both countries, Brazilians assign people to that category in ways different from those in the USA. What changed was not the biological features of this young woman, but the cultural context in which those features were interpreted.”

    And if those “direct-to-consumer” ancestry tests tell us nothing more, it is that there is no such thing as a “pure-blooded” anything. We all have bits of DNA that encode parts of the whole history of humanity, as this astonishing clip shows when a White supremacist is confronted with the African DNA in his genome:

  14. I thought we had it cleared up the last time this topic came up. Transgenderism is a thing and transracialism is not. The reason is that the transgender grift needs gender to be fluid and the race grift needs just as badly for race to be immutable. There is nothing more intellectual about it than that. (For the record I think the scientific and philosophical case for transracialism that Jerry, Luana Maroja, and Rebecca Tuvel have developed is stronger than the case for transgendered souls but we all know science has nothing to do with any of this.) If you get rid of both grifts, no one will care what race or gender someone claims to be. But as long as the non-white race tribes and the trans tribes seek to control the grift there is conflict.

    Tribes can admit and exclude anyone they please. Black people are their own tribe. They control entry, always have, as proven by the Dolezal affair. But women are the relevant sex tribe, not men claiming to be women. The latter are outsiders seeking entry into the tribe (and to control it.) The women are having none of it. People of good will who think men can identify as women if they choose as long as they’re harmless and sincere haven’t consulted the relevant tribe to see if that’s OK. And so you get outsiders (men) trying to tell another tribe (women) whom they must admit. That might be how civil rights law works but it’s not how tribes work.

    1. If only you were right… The men claiming to be women have ‘allies’. They have all the levers of power. They even have some women on their side. Consider the recent prevalence of AFAB/AMAB. Neither term is remotely accurate. Has the medical profession rebelled and demanded respect for truth? Not exactly. Cowered and obeyed would be more like it.

      1. Cowed and docile is a fair indictment. However….

        Individual pediatricians burrowing away in the American Academy of Pediatrics have just been successful in getting the Board to commission an external review of the evidence for the benefits (no) and harms (yes) of gender-affirming care which inform its current standard of practice. The Board had been stone-walling numerous previous motions to do this. It just recently came out with enthusiastic recommendations parroted soon after by the Canadian Pediatric Society which was obviously waiting for the Americans to publish before releasing theirs. This is a small interim victory. Not the end, not even the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning, as Churchill said. (I am not a member of the AAP or the CPS.)

        Many populous states (and Canada) have laws that prohibit “conversion therapy”, defined to include psychotherapy that has the goal of making someone comfortably gender-concordant with the sex s/he was born as. This makes it hard (and probably illegal) to decline to prescribe puberty blockers and hormones when every major medical association promotes them as a standard of care. Withholding them is conversion therapy through the back door, since if you don’t give the drugs, you are denying that gender affirmation is desirable and are proposing to let gender dysphoria resolve on it own.

        For now, though, it is up to the state legislatures to act using the clumsy mailed fist of the law to protect children when the doctors won’t.

  15. When Dolezal was identifying as Black, she was active in the NAACP. When Jan Morris identified as a woman, she modeled her behavior on sexist stereotypes of women. See the brilliant review by Nora Ephron of Morris’s book, Conundrum (in Ephron’s collection Crazy Salad).

  16. It’s easy to understand why many good, underdog-supporting liberals are OK with transgenderism but not transracialism. In progressive circles, as we know, membership in an oppressed group carries high social status and authority. A white-to-minority ‘transitioner’ like Rachel Dolezal or a Pretendian is seen as unfairly usurping the valuable status rightfully belonging only to the oppressed minority. A male-to-female transitioner, in contrast, is seen as genuinely joining an oppressed group (trans people), rather than as trying to usurp someone else’s (women’s) oppressed status. (Importantly, women per se are not considered a particularly oppressed group by most of today’s progressives.) Not saying it’s right, but that’s how I think a lot of people see it.

  17. I think I finally get where “David Freund, a historian of race and politics and an associate professor at the University of Maryland, College Park,” is coming from. From a historian’s point of view, historical facts look especially important. Since Black Americans have grown up with and dealt with racism, you might think that someone who didn’t, can’t reasonably claim to be Black. It would be like me claiming to be a Vietnam veteran. Real Vietnam vets might reasonably be offended at my posing.

    I don’t think that’s a crazy view, but I do think it’s one-dimensional at best, wrong at worst. Race involves history, but also a lot more. And unlike the Vietnam War, which a poser cannot travel back in time to experience, racism is ongoing. Rachel Dolezal was voluntarily placing herself in a position to receive anti-Black racism. And for a while, the community she was working with accepted her as Black. That’s all the social construction you need, I’d say, to make your race.

    1. But Paul, she was also “placing herself in a position” to get paid a salary by the NAACP, who would never have hired her had they known she was only self-identifying and who fired her as soon as her parents ratted her out as not being black. The tribe decides who’s black, and it said she isn’t.

      Do you really think she was a hero for placing herself in harm’s way to experience racism? She fabricated complaints of race-related hate crimes and falsely stated on an application form that a black man was her father. Maybe she just wasn’t skilled at much else, so convinced herself she was black enough to run a chapter of the NAACP. The community she was working with accepted her at face value as black only until it discovered she wasn’t. They considered themselves to have been deceived and took their vengeance. It doesn’t matter what we think of her.

      I admit I don’t know if you are arguing that she was sincerely black, or if you are mocking the social construct of the NAACP. It’s hard to argue that you can run the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People if you are only pretending to be colored.

  18. Race actually does have a biological basis. Back in 2007, Wired wrote about this. See “The Inconvenient Science of Racial DNA Profiling”. In real life, race can be very accurately determined from a tiny DNA sample.

  19. Fascinating stuff. Transracialism is coming and is going to ask some very hard questions of transgenderism. One of the main problems with radical progressive ideology is that when followed to its logical conclusion, or attempts made to reconcile it with other streams of radical progressive ideology, it seems to fall apart. I think both, logically, have to be accepted or neither. And I’d say neither.

    I’d like to live in colour-blind society that has great sympathy for those with gender dysphoria, affords those people all rights it can, but also maintains reality and accepts there are some spaces created based on sex.

    Regards Substack: I’ve just signed up for a free subscription to Singal’s, and will pay for at least a month, to read this piece. But it’s $7USD (I think). My Apple News subscription, giving me access to The Atlantic, The Times of London, Nat Geo, Popular Mechanics, and a host more is about the same. I subscribe to the Free Press, they do produce a lot of content, but really can’t justify subscribing to multiple authors. I do occasionally rotate. It’d be good if Substack could offer a Netflix like subscription and give us access to all content creators. Again, a single subscription on Substack is similar to a Netflix subscription.

  20. Chihuahuas and St Bernards are dogs … if that difference is too big a jump then what about the different flavours of collies? Selective breeding has done in a few centuries what incomplete geographic isolation could not do in hundreds of thousands of years.

  21. John Howard Griffin paid a heavy price for his foray into trans-racialism, severely beaten after the fact by members of the KKK.
    There are some trenchant comments here. Mostly I’m just sad and bewildered

  22. On this topic, I have tried to read Rogers Brubaker’s
    “The Dolezal affair: Race, gender, and the micropolitics of identity” published in the Ethnic and Racial Studies journal, Volume 39, 2016 – Issue 3. I can’t say I’ve made much headway but I include it here in case someone else wants to give it try.

    From the abstract:

    This article treats the pairing of “transgender” and “transracial” in the intertwined discussion of Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal as an intellectual opportunity rather than a political provocation. I situate the Dolezal affair in the context of the massive destabilization of long taken-for-granted categorical frameworks, which has significantly enlarged the scope for choice and self-fashioning in the domains of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, and sexuality. Anxieties about opportunistic, exploitative, or fraudulent identity claims have generated efforts to “police” unorthodox claims – as well as efforts to defend such claims against policing – in the name of authentic, objective, and unchosen identities. Instead of a shift from given to chosen identities, as posited by theories of reflexive modernity, we see a sharpened tension between idioms of choice, autonomy, subjectivity, and self-fashioning on the one hand and idioms of givenness, essence, objectivity, and nature on the other.

  23. How can people with a functioning brain write a sentence like “Experts agree race is not genetic.” and feel good about it?

    I mean, there are plenty of intermediary cases, and US officials really muddied the waters with that “hispanic” category, but for those people who clearly belong to a “race” (not an ethnicity!), what else would it be but genetic? Of course, since we’re all one species, we can have arbitrarily complex mixtures of ancestry, and we can argue endlessly about whether someone with 25% African ancestry counts as black. But that’s like arguing whether “tall” begins at 6′ or 6’1″, and then concluding that “experts agree that being tall has nothing to do with what the yardstick says” and “height is a social construct”. (Which is of course a standard postmodern tactic.) Meanwhile, in the real world, a genetic test can predict the self-identified race with >99% accuracy.

    I am increasingly impatient with any arguments that deny real-world categories and instead try to smuggle in the corresponding “social construct”. The actual “social construct” in this case is “ethnic group”, or maybe “culture” and “subculture”, and I have no problem if someone is accepted as a member by an ethnic group, or internally feels as member of that ethnic group, even if the biology doesn’t match. Take Eminem, for example. Grew up as a white kid among blacks, soaked up the culture, can rap with the best of them. Is he “culturally black”? Sure. Is he “racially black”? No, and he’ll never be. And legally, that shouldn’t matter, because in a fair society, laws and regulations should be neutral with respect to both race and ethnic groups. Socially, there are always problems if the appearance does not match the expectations, but I don’t think that can be solved systematically.

  24. Transsexualism is a mental condition that, like other mental conditions found in nature (homosexuality, for example), might be partially genetic (that’s not surprising given that sexual reproduction is older than brains- I would say that sex is what has been wiring brains for more than 500 million years, but I’m not an evolutionary biologist).

    Transracialism is a mental condition that cannot possibly have a genetic cause, because present-day human “races” are recent and local.

    (By “condition” I don’t mean “illness” or “disorder”.)

  25. Transracial people should say that they’re “culturally Asian”, or “culturally black”, like transwomen should say that they’re transwomen.

Leave a Reply