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What Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal Actually Have in Common

June 14, 2015

No they are not both trans.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TRANSRACIAL! OUTSIDE OF CROSS RACIAL ADOPTIONS THAT IS NOT A THING! STOP IT RIGHT NOW! DON’T USE WORDS YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND AND DON’T DEVALUE THE STORIES AND EXPERIENCES OF ACTUAL WOMEN OF COLOR BY ALTERING LANGUAGE TO SUIT YOUR RIDICULOUS CONCLUSIONS!

So other than that ridiculous assertion which flew around on the back of internet trolls all weekend, what do these two women have in common?

They are outstanding litmus tests.

In the face of the news stories about them a number of activists and allies immediately showed their entire true hateful, unChristian selves on various social media platforms by refusing to use Ms. Jenner’s female name and generally being as anti-trans as a person can be without actually physically attacking someone, making excuses for Ms. Dolezal and pretending that transracial is a thing that applies to people choosing to wear blackface, equating the two women, or insisting that race is just a construct so what Ms. Dolezal did is no big deal.

Important note: I am not a Christian but many of the individuals I’m talking about are and thus, it is relevant.

Other note: race in America is totally a construct but it is one that still exists and has a major negative impact on People of Color while providing a major benefit to white people. Pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t going to make it go away.

OK, I am going to attempt to be a civilized human and lay this out in a rational way. But this subject is testing me so I make no promises.

If you start a sentence with “Jesus said,” and you conclude that sentence speaking in a ay that demeans trans people you should stop talking and go read your holy book. Because Jesus said not one thing about trans human beings. Don’t use your deity as an excuse for your hate and ignorance. Just be hateful and ignorant without trying to hide behind your religion. That’s probably some sort of sin or something. You might want to avoid that.

Please understand, there are valid criticisms of Ms Jenner and her coming out and most of all, the media reaction to it. Laverne Cox had some brilliant and insightful things to say about it and the way we view trans women specifically. Go read them.

And let me make the point that the vast majority of the people I saw deadnaming Caitlyn Jenner and pretending that their religion justified their hateful comments and generally being horrible, were people that I know to be active in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Pause and think about that for a moment. These people, who are doing various levels of work to force America to acknowledge the value of Black lives, have taken time from their busy day to make it as clear as they possibly can that this other kind of life does not. Not only is that a hypocritical way of thinking it is, frankly shameful. Refusing to recognize that the Gender and Sexual Minority community contains PoC is not a thing that is acceptable in this movement. Or, you know, life. Expecting members of the GSM community to respect you as leaders and allies while you make it clear that you do not accept our basic humanity is not going to happen. It’s simply is not.

#BlackLivesMatter but respecting trans lives, black or white, do not?

Nope. You have no credibility as an activist or a person. You’re done. Stop talking forever.

Caitlyn

Speaking of people and groups who should stop talking forever…

The Pragmatic Progressive Page 122k followers, run by largely white moderators, I Acknowledge Class Warfare Exists 214k followers, run by largely white moderators, and Too Informed to Vote Republican and 115k followers, run by largely white moderators all decided to post this piece of colorblind racist apologetics yesterday. Feel free to go tell them how you feel about that.

Naomi Wolf, the poster child for White Feminism™ is steady posting racist and transphobic shit and claiming that she is just “post[ing] many perspectives for debate and discussion.” Go to her Facebook page and watch the descent into White Woman’s Tears as she consistently makes statements about race from her ignorant, privileged, White Feminist™ perspective, like asserting that light-skinned black people “choose black,” as a racial identity and straight up tone policing anyone who points out that what she is posting is racist and transphobic.

If you guessed that she went from zero to White Woman’s Tears in less than a day give yourself a gold start because of course she did. Of. Course. She. Did. And so did any number of white women on her page some of whom went directly to the claim that by making nuanced and informed criticism of both Ms. Dolezal and Ms. Wolf we were attempting to “shut down the conversation.”

Yeah that happened.

Let me tell something to you, we never want to shut down a discussion. Discussions of race, and especially the intersection of racial and gender/sexuality issues are so rare as to be too valuable to ever stop. However, those discussions shouldn’t be centered around or led by white people. The role of white people in these discussions is to listen and learn. You’re welcome.

Look people, we have talked about this before. You’re “I don’t see race. There’s only one race, the human race. We’re all human,” bullshit. All you’re saying is that you refuse to acknowledge a fundamental part of me and don’t want to hear about the pain and danger that White Supremacy puts me through. You just want to benefit from it and you want me to shut up.

I’m not going to shut up.

And if that makes you uncomfortable well, good. Your racism makes me uncomfortable as you are well aware. So now, in the spirit of giving, we are #bothuncomfortable. If you don’t like that, stop making me uncomfortable and I won’t have to share.

Because the Rachel Dolezal story isn’t just about cultural appropriation for fun and profit. It’s not just about 21st century blackface. It’s not just the fact that she went all Kardashian and took on the trappings of black femaleness. OK, it’s partially that, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The real issue is that she is that she stole black women’s stories and represented them as her own. She reached down into our culture and stole our voices to use for her own gain. She is the Ursula to Black women’s Ariel and every bit as selfish and consciously harmful and the absolutely LAST thing we need is for other white women to use her wretched, privileged behavior as an excuse to continue to push forward their equally privileged opinions about race in America while ignoring our voices.

Rachel DolezalUrsula

Rachel Dolezal has never been an ally to Black America because the most basic function of an ally is to be led. It is to use their privilege as a tool to advance the stories and raise up the voices of the oppressed group. Not to pretend to membership of that oppressed group and use that lie to advance their own careers.

And don’t get it twisted, she is going to keep benefiting from her lies. She’s going to write a book and become a white “expert” on Blackness.

And while we’re talking about her privilege can we all acknowledge the fact that this woman consciously invoked colorism and benefited from light privilege? Because she not only pretended to be Black, she pretended to be White America™’s ideal of black beauty; a light skinned woman with curly hair who is dark enough to be “exotic” but still has white features and has assimilated into white culture far enough that White America and squint and turn their heads and pretend that the racial construct that directly benefits them doesn’t really exist.

She fetishized Black women so much that she attempted to make herself into one.

That is not the behavior of an ally. That is the behavior of a racist.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2015 10:24 AM

    Rachel Dolezal definitely reminds me of the white women who went into black communities during the Harlem Renaissance and then made tons of money writing books and giving public speeches on what it means to be black.
    I just don’t understand why people are even trying to equate Dolezal with Caitlyn Jenner in the first place. Like…gender is assigned and race isn’t. Caitlyn Jenner is living her truth and Dolezal is living a lie.

  2. Anonypilgrim permalink
    June 15, 2015 4:55 PM

    Truth. Thank you.

  3. November 14, 2016 11:12 PM

    It was interesting to revisit the Jenner/Dolezel controversy from this moment in 2016.

    From this perspective the freedom of a rich white republican to change his sex and have it accepted by the elite must have been galling to working class men and women. I found the media blitz around Jenner disturbing and because of my work with homeless trans women in San Francisco. They suffer terribly from their decision to be themselves.

    I had a different take on Dolezal as an adult who was abused as a child who in the segregated south at a time when racism was more invisibly institutional.

    The only people I knew who were as abused as I was were Black people so as a child I thought I was black.

    I have always known otherwise but I do know that it is possible for someone to believe something untrue about themselves. Delusional disorders are real so when i read that Dolezal was abused I felt badly for her. Another class of Americans who get the worst of it are people with mental illnesses.

    Excellent post. I love the passion in your writing.

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