Social Question

josie's avatar

If Bruce Jenner can be a girl, why can't Rachel Dolezal be black?

Asked by josie (30931points) June 15th, 2015

Rachel Dolezal quit as head of the Spokane branch of the NAACP

She says she is black, but she is not. (I won’t get into asking how anybody could imagine that she actually is black. Maybe they have vision problems in Spokane. But that’s another question.)

The point is, Bruce Jenner was a guy, he had some cosmetic surgery, announced that he is a girl and lo and behold he is!

Rachel curls up her hair or weaves it or whatever, and announces she is black. But she isn’t! Why can’t she be?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

67 Answers

jca's avatar

To me, the issue is more that she is a liar, but I know that’s not the angle the media is pursuing.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Another manufactured story by the media.

Who cares?

Either we are in a post-racial and post-gender world where it is peoples’ minds and personalities that matter (not their sexual or racial identity) or we’re not.

But of course, now Elbandito the Cynic speaks:

point a) Consider that blacks have been getting a lot of sympathetic publicity recently all over the country because of their treatment by police departments. Even the white majority is seemingly aghast as the way blacks are being targeted, beaten up and killed.

point b) there is a population in the US that still is vehemently anti-minority and specifically anti-black. (Mitch McConnell and most of the republican party, among others).

Could it be, then, that the anti-black people (point 2) are doing out of their way to denigrate a pro-black supporter (Dolezal) and by extension her organization (NAACP) as a way of smearing and discrediting blacks and their movement?

In other words, conspiracy theory.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

This is a classic example of the hypocrisy that permeates society, at least in the US, and I suspect other places, just not as blatant. The issue should be about honesty but they true underlying reasons creep in.

• To some who are considered white or European it is still seen as a negative to be other than white, less Japanese. It is inconceivable for her to want to be Black if there was no great gain in it personally or financially.
• In its very essence racial equality still lags behind gender equality.
• Being gay or transgendered is less of a stigma than being Black, even if well hid and overtly addressed or confessed.
• Some Black people (or those officially called Black) are really far less than 50% Black by count of African genes, but any appearance as Black makes you Black. If you are 50% Black and something else, the something else is erased and you are Black by contemporary standards.
• Apathy or denial that any of these racial issues exist.
If she lied to gain a position, government grant money, government aid or assistance, use affirmative action or such to gain entrance to school etc. THAT, and only that should be the issue. If she wants to just be Black because she does, then there really should be no difference, she should be able to say ”I am a Black girl born into a white girl’s body and I am just making the correction”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, everybody is supposed to be what ever they want to be.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Just let everyone believe what they want to. What will Hillary come up with I wonder?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@josie “The point is, Bruce Jenner was a guy, he had some cosmetic surgery, announced that he is a girl and lo and behold he is!”

This seems like the fundamental misunderstanding you are having. You are falling into the old mistake that these are choices. But that’s not the current understanding of what it is to be transgender. What Jenner (and other people who understand the issue) would say is that she was always woman, but had the misfortune of being born in a biologically male body. The important distinction here is between sex (which is generally considered to be physiological) and gender (which is not physiological at all). So there was no change from man to woman. There was only a change in outer appearance and social interactions.

(Note that there is some trouble with treating sex as purely physiological, but we can avoid those complications for the purposes of this discussion.)

Similarly, race is something that you just are. Even if we think it is socially constructed—and the consensus of both the natural and social scientific community is that it is—history is an important part of that construction. Dolezal has neither the lineal nor social history to support her claim; and more importantly, she knows this and was simply lying about her background. And as a last point, there is science validating both the origin and experience of transgenderism. There is no science supporting the origin or the putative experience of being transracial (which is to be expected given that race is not a biological phenomenon).

@elbanditoroso We, of course, do not live in either a post-racial or post-gender society. And insofar as those terms mean what you say they mean, we should be thankful for that. The goal is not to get to the point where race and gender do not matter, but to get to the point where they are not the targets of bigotry. These are importantly different.

@Dutchess_III No, everyone is supposed to be free to be what they are. Caitlyn Jenner is—and always has been—a woman. The rest of us just didn’t know it until recently. She might not have fully realized it herself. But that’s not really so surprising: look at how many gay people don’t realize they are gay (even when people around them do) due to various social pressures.

ucme's avatar

Yeah & why can’t Serena Williams be a woman, instead of the world heavyweight cham…oops!

JLeslie's avatar

I keep seeing little bits and pieces of this story. I don’t get why everyone is so upset. It seems to me she liked living in the black community, is that not true? She identifies as black, then I’m ok with it.

Was she trying to dupe people? Or, was that just the community and identity she felt comfortable with.

Jews have this problem. A Jew decides they aren’t religious, and they say they aren’t Jewish. But, then they do things that are associated with Jews, and people know they were raised Jewish, and people still say the person is Jewish. Jewish culturally, but the person doesn’t even want that identity thrust upon them. This girl wants to be black.

My girlfriend’s daughter doesn’t identify as black. She says she is multicultural. She says she is black and white. My girlfriend is upset by it. My girlfriend and her husband are black, but there is a lot of white on her side. Slave owner white. She had an uncle who lived as a white doctor his whole adult life. My girlfriend is the darkest in her family.

cazzie's avatar

I would love to live in a society where this doesn’t need to happen and doesn’t matter.

The fact is that it seems that she has lied about a whole lot more than the obvious race issue. Seems she liked to play the victim.

tinyfaery's avatar

This might be some form of munchausen.

janbb's avatar

Go @keobooks. You’ve got the story.

chyna's avatar

If she did it to get jobs or to otherwise dupe people, then I feel it’s wrong. If she wanted to join in and help blacks, she still could have done that as a white person. If she truly identifies as black, then I don’t see the problem.

jca's avatar

I don’t get the “identifying as” part. If I “identify with” Norwegian people, dress like Norwegians, want to be Norwegian, but have no Norwegian genetic makeup and/or am not from Norway, then no matter what, I cannot say I’m Norwegian unless I am lying.

cazzie's avatar

@jca you could call yourself Norwegian if you live here legally for 7 years, learn the language, apply for a Norwegian passport and have the application accepted. You would be Norwegian, but you’d be ‘from’ where ever it is you are from. (and culturally, it would take generations for you and your family to actually be accepted socially.)

jca's avatar

@cazzie: Right. I mean in the case of this woman, I don’t see where she gets off calling herself black if she’s not. She can want to be black, etc. but she’s not black. To me, she’s a liar.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Is it possible for a white person to just know they are really black?

keobooks's avatar

Rachel Dolezal is a fraud on so many levels. It’s NOT just about her pretending to be black.
Dolezal got caught because she was under police investigation for sending herself fake death threats and making false police reports. There is a very likely possibility that she vandalized her own office by painting a swastika on the front door. Even if she were the darkest skinned black woman in America, this would have been a massive embarrassment to the NAACP if major news networks got a hold of it. Black or white, this proves she was a terrible public representative for the NAACP.

Also, she didn’t just pretend to be black. She put herself in several positions of authority and used that authority to dictate her opinion of what the real black American experience was like. One example of this is that in one of her classes, she taught her students about cultural appropriation. She said it was a deeply offensive thing for white women to wear braids. Then it comes to light that she was this white woman doing exactly that.

She also pretended to be an expert on racism and at least once in her career as a professor told a minority woman (white Latina) that she was “too white” to understand what racism felt like. Do you have any idea how condescending and arrogant that sounds? Some white woman telling a minority woman how she is supposed to feel about racism?

While it would have been merely lame and derpy, she could have claimed to be black and not lied about it. She could have said something like she always felt deep in her soul that she was black. This would have gotten eye rolls, but at least she ‘d have been being honest. Instead she invented this lie that she was born black.

And she wasn’t just your average ordinary black girl growing up. She was a black girl who lived in a tipi, and learned to hunt with a bow. She wasn’t just racially mixed with a little bit of American Indian blood. She lived a more authentic Native American experience than anyone—even someone born on a reservation- could live.

She didn’t have a plain ordinary interracial family. She had an evil racist mother and stepfather who beat her with a baboon whip because she was black. As hard as any black person’s life was, she had it much worse. No one could outdo her persecution and misery growing up as a poor little black girl.

She didn’t simply have ancestral ties to Africa. She LIVED there. She was more in touch with her African roots than any of her colleagues.

Instead of just living your average black American life, she had to have the ultimate black activist life. She went to a historically back school, became an expert of braiding and weaving hair. She was a professor of Africana studies. She headed the local NAACP. She was on an amazing number of activist committees and in those committees, she almost always was in a leadership position. No mere African American school teacher, bus driver or accountant could come anywhere as close to the black community as she was.

And for some reason, she was constantly getting death threats and was a victim of hate crimes when almost none of her colleagues experienced this on a regular basis.

In short, even though she had ghostly white skin, she made sure that she was always the “blackest” person in the room. She didn’t just want to be black. She wanted to out-black everyone around her. She wasn’t just black..she was the Best Black Ever.

Can you now understand how she looks like a total douchebag right now?

Jenner on the other hand has just changed gender. She doesn’t pretend that she was born a woman. She isn’t trying to be the president of the National Organization of Women. She’s not trying to be more feminine than anyone else who ever lived. She’s not going around telling other women that they can’t understand what it’s like to be a real woman—like she does.

Basically, she’s trying to be herself. Being already a celebrity makes her experience as a woman much flashier than most of us. But I doubt she’ll ever try to be the ultimate authority on the feminine experience in America. She is who she is. Open and honest.

ibstubro's avatar

Well. I consider that question answered!
Thanks @keobooks.

Judi's avatar

I remember reading “Black Like Me” when I was a kid. (5th or 6th grade.) I was surprised when I heard that black people were offended by the book. It took me a while to realize how betrayed and deceived they must have felt.

kritiper's avatar

Bruce Jenner changed his body parts to match his psyche. Rachael Dolezal would have to change her genetic makeup.

Pandora's avatar

She can be whatever she wants to be. I for one don’t care. She can claim to be the queen of Sheba. But if you lie on your job application you should be fired. She could’ve put on her application that she did not want to list her race. That was her right. But instead she lied. Most job applications have a section on the application where you swear that everything you put was the truth and if you lied on your application you can be dismissed.
No one want’s a pathological liar working for them.

I agree with @jca . I think this is just an angle.

ibstubro's avatar

My understanding is that “Bruce” still has a penis and testicles.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora It’s illegal as far as I know to require someone to answer what race they are on a job application, although it’s not illegal to ask I think. That’s sort of a tricky thing. Not that I am saying it is ok for her to lie in writing on something she signs, but all I am saying is it is not a requirement to ask or answer that question during the hiring process. That data is often collected once the person is hired. It might vary by state. Race is tricky, because I don’t think the US governement strictly defines race anymore like the old days. People basically self idenitfy on the census.

You probably have heard me tell the story of my white, blond, neighbor checking off the box African American for her white, blond, son for a lottery to get into a magnet school. She had heard they hold a certain amount of spaces for minorities, and the school was in a very white area. She is African American, she was born and raised in South Africa and came here when she was 16. The continent you are from does not dictate your race.

@jca Nationality is more of a government issued thing. I’m American because my government says I am a citizen. My husband is Mexican because he was born there, born to Mexican parents, and the government says he is a citizen. He is also caucasian, because the US says people from the Middle East, Spain, and France are white, and that is his national background before Mexico. The old definitions of negro, Asian, and caucasian had to do with facial features more than skin color. How broad the nose is, how round the eyes were, etc. etc. Although, nationality in the “old countries” was more synonomous with race than what we find here in the Americas. I agree you can’t just make up what you want to be and expect everyone to accept it, but she lived in the black community, she was accepted. It goes to show that race can’t be easily defined necessarily. It’s a little strange to me, but she pulled it off. All that other crazy stuff she did is a whole different story. Sounds like she needs some therapy.

I remember seeing a show about an American white woman who lived as a Geisha in Japan. She was the only one in history at the time when I saw the show about her. They accepted her, and she looked Asian in the make-up and costume. I guess she never tried to say she was Asian, but she lived the culture and certainly identified as a Geisha.

Pandora's avatar

@JLeslie It’s not illegal but I believe it isn’t mandatory. You can skip the box or enter NA or mixed if you are not sure. You can even answer by putting American Citizen if you are born here. It is usually in a volunteer section of an application.

The reason jobs ask is to keep track in case they ever are accused of discrimination. I know it seems dumb, but it is suppose to be for HR department only and not for the person performing the interview or reading a resume. But a personal interview usually clears that up unless they lie their. Funny story. My daughter is listed as black but she if fair skin because her dad and I are olive skin. But my FIL is black. So race is usually determined by the fathers. My husband is black and so my daughter is black and Puerto Rican. My daughters kids will be listed as white. When she got an award

When she got an award from the National African American Student achievement award, they looked angry. Like we lied. We didn’t lie. My husband listed her as black when he took her to get her SS card. He didn’t want me to list her as latino because he said in the military you are listed by your fathers race.

For my son, I listed him as hispanic. His dad was not happy. The lady at the office didn’t know what I should put because they didn’t have a mix box. I had to chose one. So she asked me, if he looked latino or black. He looked latino so I went with that.

Twice when I got a speeding ticket. I was identified as Caucasian. on the ticket.
My point is that no matter what, it will always be on some paper work somewhere.
Job application, school paperwork, SS forms, drivers license, and censuses. There will always be a little box to check

keobooks's avatar

If she were a “real” black woman, I would have described her as a nasty, self centered, bigoted woman that put her organization in dire jeopardy so she could draw attention to herself by faking vandalism and death threats against herself. I would have sneered at her elitism—as if nobody else in the country could possibly even begin to understand the “true” black experience.

She didn’t just fake being black. She created a nasty stereotype of a strong black woman. The fact that she was pretending to be black just makes all of her manipulative nasty things she did in an even worse light. This smug and condescending parody of an “angry black woman” was probably what she thought made her performance authentic. THIS is why she’s considered blackface. She wasn’t emulating black culture. She was mocking it.

Had she simply been a very friendly, inclusive woman that did her best to make her work highlight the struggles and triumphs of those around her instead of focusing on herself, and if she never faked her own death threats and put her organization in the national spotlight as a source of ridicule, I’d say “aww come on guys. She wasn’t hurting anyone. Let her pretend to be black.”

But my bet is that if she WAS that kind of person, nobody ever would have found out that she was a fraud.

keobooks's avatar

Sorry to double post, but the edit button timed out.

Right before she ‘turned black,’ she was in the process of suing Howard University for not hiring her as an assistant, refusing to renew her scholarship and removing artwork of hers from a gallery because she was white. I think she was really angry about this and decided to prove herself right by pretending to be black and getting everything she deserved, but the elites at Howard, aka the Black Harvard, denied her.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she imitated some of get least favorite people at that school to drive her point home. I wouldn’t be surprised if her performance wasn’t at least a subconscious ‘fuck you’ to every ‘snotty’ black student or professor who acted like white people didn’t belong on campus there.

Sorry to go on. I just can’t believe people are babbling on about how there’s no such thing as race and she should have the right to be whatever she wants.. Bla bla bla..

And forgetting that she did several awful and manipulative things that would have been terrible whether or not she was ‘really’ black. She’s just a really nasty woman who feels like the rules of the world don’t apply to her and she can do whatever she wants to get whatever she wants.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora I’m not sure if you caught that I was making a point to differentiate between an employer asking race or minority status on a job application versus after the person is hired. Once you’re hired they ask you for your ID’s to prove you can work and often have a sheet to check mark or fill in race. Some employers might try to ask race before you are even hired.

Back in the day Hispanic was not devided into black or white choices on most forms. My exboyfriend, family from Ecuador, used to check white, not the Hispanic box, because he used to say, in Ecuador I’m white. Now, most forms ask Hispanics to clarify white or black. Of course, I have a friend who is Chinese-Peruvian now American. LOL. The Census has that done better now where you can easily list Hispanic and then secondary to that whatever race you are. My husband is white and Mexican (I seem to remember they have a box for Mexican even outside of the general Hispanic, but he is from the Mediteranean region while I am white from eastern Europe primarily. We certainly look like we are from different parts of the world.

I remember meeting a woman while on vacation when I was a teen and she was having a conversation with my dad and she was adamant she was Puerto Rican, not black. I thought she was black, but if she didn’t want to identify with that, I was fine with it. A lot of the islands don’t get caught up with race identification like America.

Your husband wants his children listed as he identifies for macho reasons most likely. I don’t know him, but I’m am just guessing. Why would father’s race count more than mother’s? The federal goverment looks at percentages, and the military is part of the federal government. Now, percentages are used less, but it still is for things like identifying as Native American to receive beneifts. My Italian neighbor Sal was upset his Dominican wife listed their children as Hispanic. He said to me, “their father is Italian, their last name is Italian.” I told him his wife did the right thing. Any time you can list your child as a minority, do it. I definitely would have listed my children as Hispanic if I had had any.

janbb's avatar

The real answer is that we as a society have decided that you can change gender but you can’t change “race.”

jca's avatar

I often list myself as Hispanic because my father is Hispanic (from Mexico but white – DNA is from Iberian peninsula). When the job asks for it, they’re not looking for proof of anything (at least in my experience), they want it for statistical purposes. My last name is a Hispanic name but not a very common one, so many people don’t know what it is. I tell people “my hair color is fake, so don’t judge me by my hair color.” LOL

keobooks's avatar

I think you CAN get away with changing your race if you lay low and don’t make a big production of it. People have been changing their racial and ethnic identities for centuries in this country. Most people have done it to blend in and be more mainstream, but some people do it to give themselves more of an exotic flair.

If she didn’t attempt to make herself the “best black ever”, and drew tons of negative attention to herself and her community, I think she would have been accepted even if her lies had been discovered.

And you while you can change your gender, if you behaved as Dolezal did, and tried to pass yourself off as a natural born woman, pretended to give birth to children, and tried to market yourself as the end all and be all expert on all things feminine, you’d get rejected and mocked too when people discovered that you were trans. But almost all transgendered people I’ve met and heard of have never tried to present themselves to the world this way.

She’s NOT a good example to use as someone who ‘isn’t allowed’ to transform her ethnic identity. If she was honest about her true origins and didn’t work so hard to create a ridiculous web of lies about herself, she’d be ‘passing’ and this wouldn’t have become a national issue.

I went to high school with a girl who had two white parents, a full set of white grandparents, very fine blonde hair and blue eyes. She was badly bullied when we were in elementary school because she had an ‘ugly’ face, according to the popular girls in school. (Her nose was unusually broad and flat for a white girl)

In middle school, she started hanging out with the black kids who came from a different elementary school. By high school, she had a full set of blonde Jeri curls (don’t judge, it was the 80s) and went by the nickname “Frosty.” Somehow, everyone in the school ‘knew’ that she was an albino or very light skinned black girl who was a foster child to an all white family. I don’t think she went around making that story up. But I do think when she heard people assume that story was true, she didn’t bother correcting them.

Anyway, “Frosty” is now living full time as a black woman, almost exclusively in the black community. Nobody questions get authenticity, or if they do, they don’t say anything because she doesn’t make a big deal about herself and make herself the center of her adopted community. She just lives her own life and doesn’t constantly butt herself into everything, trying to outdo and one up her ‘blackness’ to everyone around her.

Dolezal is not a good example of someone why tried to pass herself off as black and failed. She’s an example of a jack-hole drama queen who made a fool of herself, trying to be better at being black than any other black woman who ever lived. It’s the ultimate white privileged prejudice. You see crap myths like this in fictional stories like Avatar (yes, the Navi had an amazing culture, but they needed the strong white man who turned himself into one of them to organize everything and save them from their oppressors.) And the true stories of the white woman who attempted to become a Massai warrior to bring feminism and ‘save’ the Massai culture from going extinct in this modern world.

Can you see how racist it is to go into a community and appropriate their culture, not just so you can live in it, but so you can go in and ‘save’ it better than anyone born into that culture could. You think you can be a better voice for the community. You think it’s your job to educate outsiders to this community. You think you have to always be in charge and always be the leader.

That’s not being in charge or simply trying to assimilate. That’s taking white privilege and prejudice to an insanely extreme level. It’s not an honor—it’s an insult.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The fraud notwithstanding, if this woman felt nature got it wrong and she was making the correction to be Black as she was ”supposed to be”, and have everyone go along with her choice, why can’t she if that is what Bruce expects from society? I have not heard a real answer on that.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I have already answered your question above. Race and gender are both social constructions; but unlike gender, race has no internal emotive determinant. That is, how you feel has nothing to do with what race you are. The way we have constructed race is neither biological nor psychological, but rather historical/genealogical.

If we collectively decide to reconstruct what race is, then we could create a different social institution in which Rachel Dolezal can, in fact, be black. But it seems more likely that we would discard the notion of race altogether before changing it in that way simply because race is more or less an essentially historical/genealogical notion (whereas it turns out that gender was never essentially connected to biology despite having been strongly associated with it).

Is it weird? Sure. Social constructions often are because they were invented by human beings who (a) often didn’t even realize what they were doing and (b) were not thinking very clearly about the assumptions inherent in the categories they were creating and enforcing. This is, of course, why some people think we should just rid ourselves altogether of these and other social constructions. (Whether or not that is actually possible or even genuinely advisable, however, is a separate discussion.)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@SavoirFaire Race and gender are both social constructions; but unlike gender, race has no internal emotive determinant.
Race might be, because that is the way people choose to view something, however, what nationality one is, is just that. I guess gender can be created of sorts. If I grew up in a culture where it was OK for boys to wear skirts and play with dolls, or even boink donkeys that is what I would have done. I cannot see how gender has any more internal emotive determinant than what race you were born into.

If we collectively decide to reconstruct what race is, then we could create a different social institution in which Rachel Dolezal can, in fact, be black
But we are expected to go along with reconstructing science or nature? If a person who is Chinese feels they really should be a white person, bleach their hair, get blue contacts, maybe go under the knife to get some white features added and the almond eyes taken out then say “I am no longer Hao Chang, but Harry Chandler”, we are to tell him ”Dude, you are Chinese, born Chinese, under all that, still Chinese, so live with it; you ARE Chinese”?. A person born Chinese but FEELING they are really another race is in the same boat as someone born with all the male plumbing but feeling they are in the wrong body and they should have a honey cave instead of a hot dog.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I would agree nationality is decided by governments, although, terms like Hispanic could easily be taken on as an identity I think. Some people think my family is from Latin America when they hear me speak Spanish. I could easily “lie” and say I’m Hispanic.

ibstubro's avatar

“The fraud notwithstanding…”

The fuc freaking fraud is withstanding. Did you not read @keobooks post about a the Caucasian coming down on minority woman while in disguise?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

The only thing Dolezal did was appropriate, in the worst way imaginable. She can’t be a black woman because she didn’t grow up experiencing life as a black woman – which matters. There are so many things that black women go through throughout their lives that no one but them can identify with, ever, unless having experienced it themselves. Which isn’t possible if you’re not actually a black woman.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I see them as similar. Jenner is a guy with mental health issues, who has developed a persona that better fits his self image. Dolezal is a woman with mental health issues, stemming from years of living with abusive parents, who also developed a persona to protect her true self. They’re both living different lives to protect themselves from their mental trauma. The only difference is that Dolezal kept her true identity a secret, and that’s why people feel cheated.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@ibstubro The fuc freaking fraud is withstanding.
The fraud is a byproduct of her actions, it is not motivators for feeling you are in the wrong body of you are not Black and feel you really are on the inside.

@DrasticDreamer She can’t be a black woman because she didn’t grow up experiencing life as a black woman – which matters.
That still has Bruce in the same boat, he did not grow up a female so how can he be a woman now, in reality, unless people want to give him greater liberties out of pity.

cazzie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central the fraud isn’t a byproduct. She faked death threats to herself and defaced her office with a swastika to make herself look like a victim. You don’t need to do that to portray yourself as a different race. Also, I don’t think Caitlyn would need to do this, I’m sure she is getting plenty of real threats.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I am speaking of the fraud of living a life that is a lie, not the other junk. A life that is not the life you were born with as the lie Bruce is trying to sell everyone on but i am not buying them apples.

cazzie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central just because you take offence as something doesn’t make it a fraud. We were speaking of the fraud in a legal sense. Fraud is a based on deceit. Caitlyn hardly tried to deceive. If she had suddenly appeared and called herself ‘Bruce’s long lost sister’ and faked Bruce’s death, THAT would have been fraud. Denying she had been a man would have been a lie. She hasn’t done that. You call it fraud because it upsets your sensibilities.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

[…just because you take offence as something doesn’t make it a fraud.
I take no offense to it (got that one wrong), if it is not fraud it is a counterfeit, and I still won’t buy it. If ever I ran into him I will say Hello Bruce.

cazzie's avatar

Again, counterfeit is an effort to deceive. And the fact that you don’t acknowledge her new name shows the obvious feelings you have about it. How we treat each other is the definition of social construct. Bigotry, for example, is a social construct.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

How we treat each other is the definition of social construct. Bigotry, for example, is a social construct.
It isn’t bigotry to call it what it is, you can slap a Ferrari shield on a Ford, it will still be a Ford, and a true Ferrari enthusiast would not be fooled or buy it.

cazzie's avatar

People aren’t cars. People have feelings and thoughts and egos and require more effort and understanding than inanimate objects. If you were calling it was it is, a transgender person, it wouldn’t be bigotry. You are calling it fraud and counterfeit, which it isn’t.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central No, it really does not have them in the same boat, at all. Jenner didn’t come out and say that she knew, firsthand, what life was like as a woman, or that she experienced the hardships that tons and tons of women still face in this day and age. She didn’t say she experienced objectification, sexual harassment, oppression or anything else that women all over the world have faced and still face, and can only personally know and identify with because they experienced it firsthand. If Jenner had done all of that, like Dolezal did, she would be a liar and a fraud, but she didn’t and she’s not.

The human brain is also far more complex than stupid cars. You have no idea what it takes to actually make up a male or female. As much as you’d like it to be “penis” or “vagina”, it’s probably much more complex than that. There is nothing in someone’s brain, on the other hand, that makes them black or white or anything else.

JLeslie's avatar

@DrasticDreamer What about a black person who comes to live in this country as an adult? If in their country race was not an issue for them and then they come to America and experience first hand what it is like to be black here, doesn’t it count?

I agree with you being raised in the environment is different, because formative years, our childhood, matters. I also am not defending this particular women who was completely making up horrible untrue stories, and probably looked for unfairness and mistreatment and blew it out of proportion. However, it does seem she, or someone who has lived as a different gender, race, etc., might understand better than I would, what it is like to live as a part if that group, if society actually views them as part if that group. We can’t even generalize about society, because it varies from community to community, but I’m just saying spending a few years living the life of someone does count for something I think. Does give some perspective.

Cupcake's avatar

@cazzie Thanks for the link. I found it interesting as well.

ibstubro's avatar

I believe that statistics show that black people who immigrate from non-discrimination countries are not subject to the same limitations as those native born, @JLeslie

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro The points you are touching on are a very complex topic looking at immigration, first generation, and American assimilation. I would argue that your article talks about the individual themselves and the support system they have and not how society treats them. The woman who posed as a black woman was not an immigrant and was accepted by the black community as black, and I assume all other people accepted her as black who she interacted with. If this is true, her experience in those years were as a black woman.

The black immigrants who go to Ivy League schools, their experience probably is similar to all black people in Ivy League schools. I mean, they obviously are reasonably bright if they made it into the school, so my guess is race is of little issue if any.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@cazzie If you were calling it was it is, a transgender person, it wouldn’t be bigotry.
So, because I don’t buy into the social construct you and others champion I am a bigot? Well, we all have our opinions, and you know what they say about that. If a boy actually felt he was a lion in a boy’s body and insisted everyone else go along, the parents would be taking the little nipper to see a therapist. People may not be cars, but they are what they are. I never possessed a cat that acted like it was a chicken, or a goldfish that acted like a sea snail, they acted and behaved as the species they were.

@DrasticDreamer You have no idea what it takes to actually make up a male or female.
That would be the same as any shrink, no matter how much education. No one fully understands the mind via the brain on a metaphysical level, yet they always claim they do…..curious.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central “I cannot see how gender has any more internal emotive determinant than what race you were born into.”

First, we need to distinguish between sex (which is typically understood biologically), gender identity (which is one aspect of how people interpret and views their own role in society), and gender expression (which is one aspect of how people present themselves to society). Pending some major advance in science, you are stuck with your genes—and thus your biological sex—for life. There is no internal emotive determinant of biological sex.

But how one interprets one’s role in society is highly dependent on one’s state of mind. Children grow up internalizing various social norms (e.g., “there are things called ‘men,’ and they do x” and “there are things called ‘women,’ and they do y”). But they also have to figure out how they fit into those norms. This is gender identity (“I fit into role x, so I must be a man” or “I fit into role y, so I must be a woman”). Most people are lucky: the role they identify with matches the expectations of society. Others are not so fortunate.

And that’s why there is a separate category for gender expression. There are various reasons why one might want to present themselves in a particular way, but a man might present himself as a woman because he lives in a society that expects him to present that way and will punish him for not doing so. Alternatively, one might do it as an act of protest (“the expectations placed on my gender are unfair, so I will present myself as a different gender to draw attention to the problem”). There are other reasons one might choose a particular gender expression as well. The point here is just that biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression are distinct concepts.

We are focused here on gender identity. As noted above, it is highly dependent on one’s state of mind. And that is the internal emotive aspect.

“But we are expected to go along with reconstructing science or nature?”

As should be clear now, we are doing no such thing. Gender is not science or nature. Sex may be, but we are not being asked to reconstruct that. We are merely being asked to recognize that there is a difference between sex and gender and to act accordingly.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@SavoirFaire But how one interprets one’s role in society is highly dependent on one’s state of mind. Children grow up internalizing various social norms (e.g., “there are things called ‘men,’ and they do x” and “there are things called ‘women,’ and they do y”). But they also have to figure out how they fit into those norms. This is gender identity (“I fit into role x, so I must be a man” or “I fit into role y, so I must be a woman”)
I have a two part comment on that, but the second half is incumbent on what the response to the first part is. The first part is, are you making the case that if it were possible, and I know it isn’t, that you had 100 boys, and you gave then no direction as to ”this is what boys do, that is what girls do”, but had available for them everything from Tonka dump trucks to Barbies and Easy bake ovens, that maybe up to half would play with the Barbies or the Easy bake ovens on their own because they would not associate it with girl things?

cazzie's avatar

I am positive that Caitlyn, before her decision was made, spent plenty of hours with a therapist. Also, I’m not championing anything. I’m simply calling something what it is. If you want to sit and try to call a pear and apple for the rest of your life, you are the one who is going to look the fool, and yes, a bigot, not the ones who are trying to explain to you that it is a pear.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ I’m simply calling something what it is. If you want to sit and try to call a pear and apple for the rest of your life, you are the one who is going to look the fool,…]
There must be a lot of foolish people who think a pear is an apple just because it got painted red. As you say, it is what it is, I can stick clay on an apple to give it a pear shape, but it is still and apple, no matter the appearance.

keobooks's avatar

I think people are trying to think of this in a very gender binary way. In order to understand this, you’ll have to think only slightly outside the binary.

Caitlin Jenner is a woman now, that is true. But she’s not a woman like me, or most of the other woman around. She’s a trans woman. She never was and never will be a ‘cis’ woman. She wasn’t born a woman. She wasn’t raised female. She does not have a personal history of being perceived as female by everyone in the world around her.

She DOES have a history of being trans female in a male body. I can’t talk too much about that, because I don’t truly understand the experience. I’ve never lived it. Now her previously male body has been redesigned into a female body. She’s always identified as female, but her body reflects the gender. But she’s a different kind of female than one born with a female body. There are many differences between being a trans woman and being born female. She’s not claiming to be a woman with female reproductive organs and the ability to give birth. She isn’t claiming to be an XX chromosomal woman. She is not and never will be. If she tried to pretend to be that, she’d be mocked just as badly as Dolezal was for pretending to be born into the African American experience.

While Jenner is a different kind of woman, she’s still female. Gender has always been more than chromosomes and sex organs.

Intersexed people have always existed. Usually, they get pronounced female at birth, but at some point it’s discovered that they are biologically male with XY chromosomes and undeveloped, under ended testcles. They usually find out around puberty, when they go to the doctor to see why they aren’t getting periods or developing breasts. Once it’s discovered that they are biologically male, they don’t suddenly change gender overnight (at least not in the U.S. I have read stories of other countries where it’s different.). Most of these women continue life being women. They have been treated and felt like women their whole lives. If they want to continue being legally female, they get to stay female.

Women with Turners syndrome are classified as female, but chromosomally, they aren’t really female. They don’t really have a gender. The get classified as female because they physically resemble females. They are missing one of their X chromosomes. Sometimes, it’s discovered that while most of their cells have XO sex chromosomes, a few have XY sex chromosomes and none of their cells have XX sex chromosomes. That means they would have been born male if they never developed Turner’s syndrome in the womb.

There are men born without penises. There are men who develop fully feminine, lactating breasts (not manboobs, breasts). There are men that are biologically female, but their genitals looked extremely abnormal and external. The doctors kind of eyeballed the genitals and made their best guess. Biologically, the guessed wrong.

Anyway, this whole apple/pear deal is not totally reality. In the U.S., there are legally only 2 genders, but in reality, not everyone fits neatly and perfectly into those 2 genders. It’s a low percentage, but there are quite a few people who legally identify as a gender based more on how they look and feel rather than what their genetics are.

While there are mostly apples and pears, there are all kinds of fruit out there that aren’t either. And society treats this people like… “Hmmm I don’t know…what are you? Apple or pear? You look like an apple…sort of, but you came off a pear tree…you taste like a strawberry… Smell like a…I have no idea what you are!” But since our society only allows for two legal genders, they can’t legally be ‘both’ or ‘none’ or ‘other’ so they pick a gender or its picked for them at birth.

So Caitlin Jenner is female. Not ever female was born that way with the correct chromosomes and genitals. It’s never been that way anyway. What’s the problem here?

Edit: my iPad totally butchered this and I’m having a lot of trouble finding and fixing this. If there are a few words that make no sense in the sentence, I thank autocorrect for that.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central No, that’s not the case I am making. So what’s the second half?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@SavoirFaire So what’s the second half?
If in the above mentioned scenario, if you can insulate 100 boys from any social direction on which toys were for what gender, the boys would play with the Barbies more than the Tanka toys, equally, or the Tanka toys more than the Barbies? This would be on their own leaning and not by people saying ”You are a boy, you play with Tonkas”, etc.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Who knows? That’s an empirical question, and as such could only be answered experimentally. But more importantly, who cares? What toys you play with don’t determine your gender.

Dutchess_III's avatar

This question has me thinking….is color more of a cultural thing, where as gender is not?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, color is biological. But as for race, my argument from above is that it is at least partially historical.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, of course color is biological, but the culture surrounding certain colors isn’t.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III Sure, but that’s what I said. After all, the “culture surrounding certain colors” is all that “race” really is. Race is a social construct, albeit one that has certain historical elements (which is to say that the social construct doesn’t allow you to “count” as a member of a particular race unless you have a certain ancestral history). I happen to think that gender is also a social construct, but one that has an internal emotive component. So in that regard, I would agree with you that race is more cultural than gender.

And sorry about the race/color thing. I was just being pedantic.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ I happen to think that gender is also a social construct, but one that has an internal emotive component.
Barring any spiritual leanings I would agree gender is a social construct, the problem is, that makes it more of a choice someone made consciously or maybe less than that, but directed by outward influences that has nothing to do with their biology. If it were a matter if biology, something missing, or something that mutated, I can roll with that, but then people avoid that because they think it would be on par with having Crone’s disease, dwarfism, Down’s Syndrome, etc. where the boy who ends up liking boys as girls was less than perfect or usual.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther