If we can be ‘transgender’, why can’t we be ‘transracial’?

Race Is a Social Construct, So I’m a Poor Black Orphan

If you’re generally a busy bumblebee like I am, you don’t have time to sit around all day socially constructing things. Thus, I am so glad that there are volunteers who do this work for me—and at no charge to boot! Merely keeping up with the latest culturally acceptable semantic terms is a full-time job in itself, and I am truly grateful there are people out there who tell me what to say and how to think. I am also in awe of their ability to make shit up while believing it’s true. Hats off to them—and I say that as a man who owns about twenty hats.

So for those of you who are far more socially conscious than I am, please be patient with me, because I’m just trying to keep up here—at least as I’ve been led to understand it, according to the latest science from The Global Science Foundation or whatever it’s called—homosexuality is genetically hardwired, but race and gender are only ideas, right? Is that the latest science? Got it. Bookmarked and filed. I will pick that, lick that, stick that, and flick that.

In other words, gay people can’t help it. That explains a lot.

“If someone can truly change their gender, why can’t they switch races, too?”

But I’m so glad that science has proved that gender and race are simply dumb myths concocted by capitalist robber barons to keep us all angry at one another rather than working together to raise the minimum wage at Burger King.

These last few years have been a glitter-spackled, fuchsia-tinted explosion of progress as the mighty transgendered have finally received respect and official protection in society now that we all realize that they are actually—scientifically and medically and socially and everything—women living in men’s bodies rather than sad and maladjusted delusional crazy people who are hacking themselves to pieces while chasing a dream. I am SO glad that’s out of the way.

But as always, my allies and comrades and fellow travelers, there is more work for us to do. I know that it seems like there’s always more work for us to do, but if we didn’t have that work, then we wouldn’t be “us,” now, would we? And it’s not as if any of us are working, anyway.

We’ve made tremendous progress with destroying, defaming, and defiling the very notion of gender. For that, I give you two thumbs up. But we have a long, long, LONG way to go when it comes to race. Since we’ve successfully swung our unforgiving ball-peen hammers at the false idea that gender is real, let’s swing ’em around at the eternal fiction that is “race.” As everyone who has, like, read a book knows, “race” is a really bad and harmful idea that you should mentally electroshock out of your head the moment it dares to creep inside your skull.

Race is only an idea. It doesn’t exist in the real world. So if you get the idea that you belong to another race, you should run with that idea. Even if you’re obviously more ginger than a frosty bottle of ginger ale, you can be as black or brown or red or yellow as you want. It’s objectively no more true or false than the idea that you’re “white,” even though that’s what black people at the subway station are always calling you late at night when they’re surrounding you and asking for money. They may seem a little gruff to you, but you don’t realize that they are only showing you the hate that hate created, so it’s not really hate at all—it’s more like revolutionary love.

But if race and gender are mere social constructs, and since we as a society already celebrate the fact that you can be whatever gender you wish to be, the same should apply for your “race.” As they say, what’s good for the goose is good for the gender.

So to all the transgendered out there—and believe me, I celebrate you, I do—please scooch over and make a little room on your Rainbow Bus for the “transracial,” AKA the “transethnic.” When perusing those links, skip over all the entries about adoptions. I’m talking about a totally different phenomenon here—in the same way that trannies…sorry, transsexuals…sorry, the transgendered—believe they are women in men’s bodies, the transracial and transethnic identify with a race and/or culture other than their own.

And who could argue? If gender is only a malleable, elastic, easily reshaped and redefined idea, shouldn’t the same concept apply to race? If someone can truly change their gender, why can’t they switch races, too?

DNA is an oppressively hierarchal social construct at least as harmful as the delusion that estrogen has anything to do with female behavior. That whole rotten “DNA” sham was constructed by some old white racist named James Watson. It’s about as reliable as astrology. For example, I share a birthday with Jim Nabors, Anne Frank, and George Bush, Sr., but I don’t feel anything in common with them, even though we’re all Geminis.

By the same token, here are the results of my DNA test. Even though it says I am overwhelmingly of Northern European extraction, it doesn’t mean that I enjoy lutefisk and clogging and scented candles like most Northern Europeans do. Therefore, these tests are highly unscientific.

Since race is merely an idea—a pinch of invisible magical dust held lightly between the thumb and forefinger—I can close my eyes, wiggle my nose, click my heels, and reconstruct myself as a black man of pure dark-chocolate 100% swampy sub-Saharan ancestry, and I don’t care if you like it or not. No, actually, I do care if you like it—in other words, I will MAKE you like it. And since none of you will be able to find my black parents, I will also register as an orphan, depending on whether I qualify for government assistance based on that status. I would think that being a poor black orphan would be worth—what?—at least $500 combined monthly from local agencies and President Obama’s personal stash? I can be whatever I want to be, and you can’t stop me, and that’s my right, and I’ll take it all the way to the Supreme Court, so don’t push me, or I will call you a hater and get you fired from your job.

We live in a new world where technology enables you to be anyone you can afford to be. If I can get my health insurance to cover it, I will gladly keep switching races so long as it helps me work my hustle. I will choose to be whatever race is most socially and financially advantageous for me at any given time. Even if I have to be a Filipino, I suppose I could handle it. Armenian would be really pushing it. But otherwise, I’m cool. And no Asian. Or Mexican.

On second thought, I’ll just stay white


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24 thoughts on “If we can be ‘transgender’, why can’t we be ‘transracial’?

  1. As a self described ‘white cisgender’ person, I know all about the hatred being waged upon those like me, and how difficult it is for the white cisgender community in general to be seen to have legitimate interests.

    There has been a steady victimisation and discrimination of our community for many decades, where we are always painted as the outcasts, the evil abomination of this world, without which everything would operate so much better.

    So I suppose I could be willing to be open to the idea of transracial identification; if it partially helps undermine those who seek to bring down the white cisgender community – and if it would generally confuse the orchestrates of this ludicrous world in which we find ourselves bonded at present.

  2. So, if I were an Ancient Aztec, could I demand that Cadbury reintroduce my national bar of chocolate?

    After that, next up, to change into a Grand Marnian..

  3. James Knight:

    This is simply a false argument (originally from Richard Lewontin, I think). Consider dwarfism. Achondroplasia is caused by a single mutation in a single gene. By the same argument, you would say that dwarfism does not exist and is purely a “social construct” because a dwarf and non-dwarf may be more genetically similar (they may even be siblings) than two dwarfs.

    But of course dwarfism exists. It is a consistent pattern of physical difference to other humans. Likewise, although race may be the result of relatively few genetic differences, it is a consistent pattern of physical difference. It is not a “social construct”.

    Any alien visiting Earth for the first time would come to identify three distinct human types, despite the presence of many “mongrels”. The physical characteristics of these three poles of human diversity- white, black, asian are consistent and classifiable. Even those who for ideological reasons deny the existence of race routinely identify humans as one of the three categories. If there is no “white” there can be no white privilege, for instance.

    It is a rather foolish argument using a deliberately dishonest metric.

  4. Ian B, there is a key difference though between race and dwarfism. Dwarfism is a concept based on additional objectively idetifiable metrics concering physical proportions, growth of limbs, etc. Although in both cases (dwarf and race) differences in allele frequencies at different loci are correlated across populations, the term ‘race’ does not have an additional objectively idetifiable metric, because it is only an abstract concept.

    Racial groups are genetically distinct, but in terms of how the abstraction is used, you find with racial groups that the particular genetic distinctions that correspond to races are only made manifest in those social abstracted forms.

  5. James Knight, that may be true but I was addressing your particular metric (genetic difference), not anything else.

    To address the argument you have switched to, it doesn’t work either. Skin albedo is an objective measure. Limb proportions are an objective measure. Cranial shape, facial angle, jaw prognathism, all can be measured. And looking at those things is how humans know each others’ ethnicity. It is pure dishonesty to call these things “abstract”. It’s a matter of consistent differences in the phenotype.

    You can keep insisting there is no difference between a Zulu, a Scandinavian and a Korean if you like, but it’s just being silly. You can argue that there is no difference between a chihuahua and a great dane too if you like. That would be silly too.

  6. Also,

    “Racial groups are genetically distinct, but in terms of how the abstraction is used, you find with racial groups that the particular genetic distinctions that correspond to races are only made manifest in those social abstracted forms.”

    I have no idea even what this paragraph is actually saying. I’m a fairly clever person with a good command of English and understanding of science. This leads me to suspect that it’s not actually saying anything meaningfull, unless you can break it down into simple impressions.

  7. Ian B, I actually meant that despite genetically distinct markers, all that we usually associate with thew word when we use the term ‘race’ are socially constructed abstractions. Some people talk of ‘racism’ by meaning prejudice against different skin colour (when, to me, skin colour is a fine way to describe the differences): some, like you above, talk of a race as being European, or Scandanavian, or Swedish (when, to me, geographical distinction is a fine way to describe the difference).

    I suppose what I’m saying is I can’t think of ‘race’ as being anything other than a secondary term riveted on to more primary terms like ‘black man’, ‘swede’, or whatever. Can you?

  8. James,

    Humans categorise the world in ways that they find useful. One group might be interested in species. ANother might be interested in “animals you can eat”, “animals that can work”, “animals that are dangerous”, etc. So in that sense all human classifications are “abstractions”. The brain abstracts everything.

    But that does not mean that the things the classifications describe are somehow meaningless. The man classifying cats as cats and dogs as dogs is identifying a real, objective distinction. The man who doesn’t care about the distinction between species, but cares about which animals are edible and which are hostile is also identifying something real.

    It is quite clear that there are three distinct general types of the human physical form. That everyone is to some greater or lesser degree a mixture of them is no different than colours being a mixture of red, green and blue. The primary colours really do exist (they have a biological basis in the biology of the eye) even if pure examples are virtually non-existent in nature. It is also clear that various mixtures of the three are themselves consistent ethnotypes.

    Whether or not this is a useful classification to one individual is down to context. But the classification is valid, regardless. A vegetarian does not care which animals are edible. But it remains that some are, and some are not.

  9. Also-

    some, like you above, talk of a race as being European, or Scandanavian, or Swedish (when, to me, geographical distinction is a fine way to describe the difference).

    This just depends on how fine grained you are being with your classification- type, sub-type, sub-sub-type….

    For instance, when I started watching Game Of Thrones I instantly recognised Sophie Turner as a local girl despite knowing nothing about her. When I looked on Wikipedia, she is indeed from Northampton. East Anglian Germanics are pretty recognisable if you grew up among them. I doubt somebody from Korea or Zimbabwe would spot the distinction though. But it’s there.

    (And no, I wasn’t doing a conscious racial analysis. It was rather a slightly eerie feeling of familiarity of someone in this overtly alien, fantasy world)

  10. Ian B >>

    Ian B>>That everyone is to some greater or lesser degree a mixture of them is no different than colours being a mixture of red, green and blue. The primary colours really do exist (they have a biological basis in the biology of the eye) even if pure examples are virtually non-existent in nature. <<

    It's actually, red, blue and yellow (not green) 🙂 – but that aside, I know what you are saying – all these things are mental constructs. My main point really is that I see the 'race' description is superfluous to other, more compelling descriptions.

    I suppose the litmus test would be this:

    Could anyone name an instance in which race was the only, and best, definer of a group of human beings? I can't think of any that trump physiological descriptions or georgraphical ones.

  11. No, it’s green for additive colour mixing in the eye’s cone cells. Yellow is a compound of red and green 🙂

    That you do not find race useful as a classification is fair enough. But if we treat it as three root bundles of phenotypical characteristics, it still has an objective reality. To use another classfiication example, you may not be at all interested in hair colour. But that does not deny the objective existence of blonde, red and black hair.

  12. Oh yeah, of course, sorry – I was a bit distracted at the time, and getting my subtractive and additive colours mixed up.

    Race has an objective reality only in the sense that it is an observation of genetic distinction. But then, as I said, we could simply say ‘genetic distinction’. My challenge is indicative of this:

    Could anyone name an instance in which race was the only, and best, definer of a group of human beings? I can’t think of any that trump physiological descriptions or geographical ones.

  13. I am not sure I follow how race can only be some kind of ‘social construct’.

    Nobody could mistake the differences between a Scandinavian and an Aboriginal Australian.

    Taking the “out of Africa” theory as being correct, which is, after all, just one theory of many, It took tens of thousands of years of separate development to create the differences.

    Only somebody who is very smart could delude themselves that all this is some kind of crudely derived construct.

    So where does this ‘construct’ idea come from? Like hinted at above, it generally comes from the fact that there is more genetic variation within races than between them.

    I get told this by liberals and liberal friends of mine (one of which is in the police service) all the time. They believe that they have the thing nailed down, like some kind of antidote to “racists”. But they don’t.

    Yes there is something like 85% of variation between any given race, and that differences between races account for the other 15%….. But that does not mean that the 15% is insignificant or that races do not exist!

    Consider the differences between men and women. There are 46 chromosomes that make up the human genome. There is a stumpy little chromosome that is the ‘Y chromosome’ – and it is the only thing that separates the markers of men and women.

    Otherwise they are genetically identical. Yet look at the physical differences between men and women. Some are absolute, with different organs / body parts. Height, for example, is controlled almost entirely by genes, and we know that men are on average taller than women.

    However, the range of heights between men is much greater than the difference in height between the average man and the average woman…..but that does not make the difference in height between men and women go away, does it?

    Like has been said above, it is like saying dog breeds do not exist or are constructs. Around 27% of the total genetic variation in dogs is between breeds.

    That is more than the 15% variation between races, but it is still correct to say that there is more genetic variation WITHIN dog breeds than between them.

    Yet look at the tremendous differences there are within this percentage! From a Chihuahua to a Great Dane! Not only in size, appearance, but temperament and susceptibility to disease.

    These differences are simply an expanded version of the differences between humans, with 27% instead of the 15%.

    If race is not a biological reality, then how can forensic experts and scientists tell somebody’s race just from a speck of their DNA?

    A study in 2005 by Dr. Neil Risch, a statistical geneticist at the University of California, led a study that looked at 3,636 subjects who were ‘white’, ‘black’, ‘east Asian’ and ‘Hispanic’.

    His team could distinguish each race with 100% accuracy, 100%, just from looking at a fraction of the genome. They could even distinguish accurately between Chinese and Japanese – but could many of us could do the same?!

    There are race differences in hormone levels, in gestation times, rates of development, brain size, eye size, bone density, hair type, life spans, twinning rates, myopia rates, IQ, etc. These are biological facts. They are not sociological constructs or somehow rough markers with no real basis.

    Like has been said above, just because the colours of a rainbow blend into one another, it does not mean that distinct colours do not exist, or that it is a perception or a construct that has no value.

    Modern medicines, such as heart failure treatments, are now targeted to specifically to different races, because they have striking medical differences.

    In sports, like the Olympics, West Africans have been every winner and finalist in the last 7 Olympic 100m dash events. In contrast, for long distance running events, those events are dominated by East Africans…..which is an impressive record for a “social construct”.

    So why do people push the idea that races do not really exist, or, that they have no differences if they ‘kind of’ do?

    One reason may be to persuade white people that immigration and mixed marriages mean nothing, and that it does not matter if we are replaced in our homelands, our communities, because we are just being replaced with a different version of ourselves.

    Another is because people are perhaps afraid that if there ARE races, there could be differences in intelligence, behaviour, capacity for certain roles…. and that it could lead to unsavoury recognitions based upon these group dynamics, it could explain why some parts of the world are more successful than others, and perhaps lead to a rejection of multiracial societies, the rejection of the pursuit of globalism – and a rejection of the resulting uniformity of mankind.

    Some people have been trained to become uncomfortable even thinking about anything about race at all, and would rather it all went away and meant nothing at all.

    But race does exist, people are not all the same, race is not just “skin colour” or “skin deep”.

    It matters. It has consequences, and personally speaking I object to my own racial group being obliterated from the face of the earth via the importation of millions of other races into our survival spaces, our homelands. Conditions within which we cannot survive.

    I would rather “racial nihilists” out there in wider society were just honest and say that they do not care about the eradication of white people, or any distinct people, than go around the houses of trying to convince people that race does not even exist in the first place – and that it has no relevance other than being a “construct” to keep us all at each others throats in a multiracial project that has become our country and other formerly White/European/Caucasian countries.

  14. Two points, one flippant, the second less so.

    First, there are individuals who have done exactly what is suggested here. Elizabeth Warren, i think, is one. Johnny Depp also.

    Second, to the extent that we all owe our ultimate ancestry to somewhere in Africa (cant be bothered to look it up), and are therefore all to a greater or lesser extent mixed, race is indeed a construct. But it’s a useful one, and whatever that common ancestry, there are evident differences between races that cannot be eradicated by thinking them away.

    FWIW, i think some transsexualism is likely to be genuine, in the sense of sincere. Whether or not that sincerity arises from a kind of insanity, i know not. And I suspect a lot of transsexuals come to regret their surgical choices. What i don’t understand is those male to female transsexuals who get themselves a pair of fun bags but retain their penises.

  15. What i don’t understand is those male to female transsexuals who get themselves a pair of fun bags but retain their penises.

    Well one reason is that it’s a choice between having some functioning natural genitalia and having a constructed facsimile of the other kind which is likely to be incapable of orgasm.

    FWIW, i think some transsexualism is likely to be genuine, in the sense of sincere. Whether or not that sincerity arises from a kind of insanity, i know not.

    It may be a mixture. Some may have a genuine congenital condition, and others may be delusional. An effect can have more than one cause (we often forget this).

  16. The strength of opinion regarding transgenderism from people who are clearly unaffected and largely uninformed, constantly beggars my belief.

    The scientific and medical literature is uncontroversial when it comes to states of ‘intersex’. Just look at the range of intersex syndromes and causes:
    This shows we are quite complex biochemical machines, and while we may be designed to turn out as binary male or female, things often don’t go right. To say the XX and XY chromosome define ‘male’ or ‘female’ is not even strictly true (you could be an XY female, and not know until you try and have children and find you are sterile.).
    Neurological development and genital development take place at different embryological stages. This gives a lot of credence to the hypothesis that ‘gender’ in the brain is set at a different time from genital and other phenotypic gender traits. From this point of view, gender dysphoria could simply be an expression of a congenital defect, just like Intersex congenital defects, but neurological in origin. I personally know many transgendered people, ranging from children to octogenerians, and this hypothesis of a congenital disconnect between phenotype and neurological gender makes the most sense to me, from everything I’ve seen.

    Whatever the truth, there are many people who feel this way, and wish to realign their physical body to match their psychology. By and large, this is successful, and people who were otherwise distressed become happy, fulfilled people. I don’t see what the problem is. Live and let live.

    @ Edward Lud “And I suspect a lot of transsexuals come to regret their surgical choices. ”
    Based on what, exactly? Those who are fine in their gender identity are not exploring other options. Its not like you can reassign your gender on a whim! Its not an easy choice in our current society to even express feelings of gender dysphoria, never mind actively transition. By and large, the transgender people I know are some of the bravest and most inspiring people I’ve ever met. Its one hell of a fight (both medically and socially), and I don’t think its likely those who would regret it would make it past the first hurdle.

  17. Ben P, based on personal experience (not of me, but of others) and a rather interesting conversation with a psychosexual counsellor, who went on to add that it would be professional suicide to say so publcicly.

  18. Possibly Freudian bullshit from someone who has had little or no actual involvement with gender dysphoria? My wife is a psychotherapist, and has had similar discussions with fellow professionals who are too wrapped up with freud et al. While some people presenting with gender dysphoria may have simple psychosexual problems, it shouldn’t take too long for a counselor or psychologist to figure this out. Men seeking counseling because they need to wear women’s clothes to get turned on ARE NOT questioning their gender, for example! This is transvestism – someone (usually a heterosexual natal male) who sexually fetishises ideas of being an opposite gender. Gender dysphoria is never sexual. I know small children with gender dysphoria (where it is unquestionably non-sexual), and adults who have lived in role since they were children, way before their sexual development. Equally, gender dysphoria is no predictor of sexual direction, and kind of blows a lot of Freudian stuff out of the water (eg natal female grows up to be a gay man who chooses NOT to have a phalloplasty. Where do you hang your penis envy on that Freudians!).

    With the people and organisations I know, I’m probably no more than one or two steps removed from every transgender person in this country who is ‘out’ (for lack of a better phrase) and known to the main support groups. I’ve honestly never met or had accounted to me a case of someone in the UK regretting gender reassignment. I’ve heard of, and met, many who have changed their mind, either during counseling and ‘living in role’ (this is where your psychosexual counsellor may be doing a grand job, showing some people that their issues are to do with their own upbringing and sexual development), or even during some point of hormonal intervention (though this is rare). However, getting to a stage of full transition and regretting it? I’ve seen how much effort, fight, and sheer determination it takes to get to this point. You barely get off the starting block, never mind the finishing line, if you have doubts. Transgender people are going against the tide; possibly against family, friends, colleagues. You have to live in role for years before any medical professional will take it seriously. If you can convince them, then you have years of hormonal treatment before you ever get further intervention. There is just no way that someone with standard psychosexual problems is going to get through this convincing people or themselves that they have gender dysphoria.

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