We new media professionals surf a choppy sea of social whim. Whatever people talk about, we write about. It’s supply and demand. That said, there are certain stories which I resist chiming in on no matter how big they get, stories which I find either distasteful or ludicrous.
The story of Rachel Dolezal stands as an example. The drama surrounding her masquerade as a black woman strikes me as tabloid garbage, warranting a sidebar mention at best, and then only for laughs.
Unfortunately, my attempt to avoid the story has run up against this piece at Reason, in which editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie attempts to draw a distinction between Dolezal’s transracialism (yes, spell check, that’s a word now) and Caitlyn Jenner’s transsexualism. He writes:
To say that Jenner’s very public coming out disturbed social conservatives is an understatement. Between the ritual unwillingness to use female pronouns in relation to Jenner to exhortations that she is clearly deranged, it’s fairer to say that cons lost their shit. “A surgically damaged man appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, and the applause is mandatory,” opined National Review‘s David French. “If we’re not going to defend as a [Republican] party basic principles of male and female, that life is sacred because it comes from God, then you’re going to lose the vast majority of people who’ve joined that party,” howled Iowa talk-radio host Steve Deace.
Gillespie cited Outside the Beltway’s Doug Mataconis, who wrote:
[It’s just] another attempt by social conservatives to demean transgender people, a phenomenon that has been quite prevalent on that side of the political spectrum over the past two weeks. Even taking the arguments at face value, though, they don’t add up….
Rachel Dolezal didn’t “choose her race,” she committed fraud by lying about her background. She can choose to adopt whatever culture she wishes, but that’s not what happened here. She lied about her background, not just to the public but apparently also on job applications. That’s fraud. The people who are trying to use this case to draw analogies to, or mostly just to make stupid, snarly comments about, the issues raised last week by the Caitlyn Jenner story, are just being obnoxious jerks.
Obnoxious jerks, or adherents to objective reality?
Look, you can’t have it both ways. If Dolezal shouldn’t claim to be black because she was born white, then on what objective basis can Jenner or any transgender rest their claims? This is a fair question. It’s an objective question. It demands a fair and objective answer.
If Dolezal committed “fraud” by misrepresenting her race, hasn’t any man who has claimed to be a female also committed fraud? Isn’t Dolezal’s claim that she’s black because she feels like it at least as legitimate as Jenner’s claim that he’s a woman because he feels like it? If not, why not? What logical, objective, fact-based reason can Gillespie or anyone else provide that distinguishes Dolezal’s transracialism from Jenner’s transsexualism?
It’s an interesting word, fraud. It implies a standard of truth by which non-truth can be judged. Dolezal said she was black. How do we know she’s not? She feels black. She made cosmetic changes to appear black. Who are we to tell her she’s not? To say with certainty that she is not black, we must apply a standard based in the facts of reality.
By that standard, there exists less objective basis for deeming Dolezal non-black than for deeming Jenner a non-woman. Race is merely a social contrivance, not a distinction of nature. Gender, on the other hand, comes with congenital biological differences which can be readily observed. Race is subjective. Gender is not.
Transsexualism’s celebrants find any comparison to Dolezal offensive because it exposes the absurdity of politically correct ideas. The Jenner narrative has been, as David French crudely but accurately states, you must applaud this man’s denial of objective reality. You must celebrate and be entirely comfortable with men using women’s restrooms and boys showering with girls in school. Like the denizens in The Emperor’s New Clothes, you must defy your own senses and aid in a communal illusion.
The “trans rights” movement would impose such behavior by law, and has already begun to. To them I say, if I must accept Caitlyn Jenner, you must accept Rachel Dolezal, and for the same reason. Either that, or we could try the novel approach of leaving people free to choose what they accept or reject.