In Defense of Transracialism

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In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Lomax on February 3rd, 2019, 9:17 am 

Rebecca Tuvel's essay caused a severe backlash in 2017 - largely from people who admitted to not having read it - which resulted in an open letter with hundreds of signatories, and the resignation of nine members of staff from the feminist magazine Hypatia (which had published the essay).

The essay is well-argued and worth reading but I will try to summarise:

1. A person's membership of a given gender is determined by their self-identity and the identity society assigns them, determined in large part by phenotype and circumstance.
2. Gender is vague and ambiguous and no given attribute can be isolated which consistently identifies a person's membership. (In Wittgenstein's language, the set is defined by a family resemblance.)
3. The practical possibility of changing gender is influenced by what we think gender should be and whether we think a person should be able to transition, and be recognised as having done so. Consequently it depends on the medical and social resources available to the person who wishes to transition.
4. Points (1)-(3) all apply to transracialism. Therefore, there is an inconsistency between our treament of Caitlin Jenner and our treatment of Rachel Dolezal.
5. Therefore, we should accept the notion of transracialism as both possible and acceptable.

Rebecca Tuvel wrote:I think we have stronger reasons to accept individuals’ self‐identities than to force them to feel beholden to an identity thrust upon them at birth. The argument for this point is broadly Millian; as a rule, we should encourage “different experiments in living” and not interfere with others’ liberty unless doing so would prevent harm to others [...] I hope to have shown that harm to members of a race is not an inevitable or obvious consequence of transracialism and, importantly, no more inevitable or obvious in the case of race than of sex.

Rebecca Tuvel wrote:I have taken it as my task in this article to argue that a just society should reconsider what we owe individuals who claim a strongly felt sense of identification with another race, and accordingly what we want race to be.

Tuvel also populates the paper with pre-emptive responses to various criticisms, which I will not lay out in full here. I think there are three possible prongs to this fork:

1. Accept transracialism as legitimate.
2. Reject transgender identity as illegitimate.
3. Demonstrate some logical or moral difference between the two types of trans identity.

Part of the job of philosophy is to ask the difficult questions, so I trust that anybody who is outraged will have the patience to read the piece before reacting. I am interested to read your analysis.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby BadgerJelly on February 3rd, 2019, 9:57 am 

No free access to essay
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Lomax on February 3rd, 2019, 10:10 am 

How frustrating. I've lost access in the last hour too.

Try this.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 3rd, 2019, 12:33 pm 

Why would anyone be outraged?
What do they think is being harmed by the odd person identifying with a designated group into which they were not born? What do they think they have to lose by one more person joining or departing from their designated group? What are they jealous of?
Gender is fluid; race is even more so.
How can this even be an issue?
That's the kind of thinking that persecutes albinos - after all, they don't fit anybody's 'race' bracket.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby BadgerJelly on February 4th, 2019, 12:47 am 

It seems the controversy is mainly to do with interpreting “cultural identity” with biology. Of course, sex is determined by biology not personal choice. I’d say the same goes for “race” being interpreted as genetic evidence.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 4th, 2019, 1:33 am 

BadgerJelly » February 3rd, 2019, 11:47 pm wrote:It seems the controversy is mainly to do with interpreting “cultural identity” with biology. Of course, sex is determined by biology not personal choice. I’d say the same goes for “race” being interpreted as genetic evidence.

What genetic evidence? We are all multiracial - assuming there have ever really been separate races.
What's cultural identity? If a child is born of Polish-Canadian parents and grows up in Japan, what is his culture supposed to be? Why shouldn't he choose the one in which he feels most comfortable? It's what immigrants are expected to do in the USA, isn't it?
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby BadgerJelly on February 4th, 2019, 2:05 am 

I meant “race” as in Human race (biological term) and “race” as in cultural term. We know genetically speaking that there is no actual “racial” distinction - as in different races. There are very patchy delineations between genetic groups though (thus why medicine works for some people and not others). Meaning that cannot change or genes to suit your personal preference.

Cultural identity I meant as an admixture of how you see yourself and your history compared to your actual history. There is a distinction between what you wish and what is. I can call myself Japanese but having never been born or lived in Japan doesn’t really seem sensible to me - even though I have spent some time wish Japanese people, I wouldn’t imagine someone would speak to me and consider me to be Japanese. However if I was born and raised in Japan, spoke Japanese, dressed like a Japanese person, and held to the same kind of cultural values as Japanese people (meaning following traditions in cuisine, art and op culture) then I’d be readily thought of as Japanese because other than my apperance I would be Japanese.

Point being I cannot change the physical facts of reality or of my life experience. I cannot simply say I speak Japanese when I cannot actually speak Japanese and expect to be taken seriously. I could say I love the sound of the Japanese language and admire the cultural and find it’s traditions and cuisine both engaging and attractive and then refer to myself as being somewhat “Japanese”. I have no issue with that. I have no issue with someone identifying as a crocodile or a bird, but if they insist they are a crocodiel or a bird I’d certainly not accept their position - of course that is an extreme example and I’m not saying how someone identifies sexually or ethnically as being equivalent. I merely pointing out there is a difference between feeling/believing like you’re x and being x.

I imagine a white person saying they are black would be met with negative reactions by many people - not me, so long as they don’t go claiming they are physically black when there is no physical evidence to suggest that they are black - by way of genetics (not that the science there is anywhere near black and white - pun intended!). If someone refused to admit they had sickle-cell anemia because they were “white” and died as a result ... so be it. Point being again, how you identify doesn’t mean it is what you are, yet how you identify is certainly extremely important because that is essentially your sense of selfhood.

When it comes to gender there is a general common difference between men and women. That said it is by no means 100% in every case that a human is male or female - hormonal exposure in the womb has shown this quite clearly (and again, note that there is physical consistent evidence for this).

Anyway, not had a chance to read the paper yet. Catching plane later so shoudl find time then.

To sum up, people CAN choose whatever they want. I’ve no issue with that. They cnanot choose how other people think about them though and they have to understand that even with evidence some will just not come aroudn to their way of thinking and that that is not optimal but simply inevitable and the reason they have the chance to openly declare this or that.

It is worrying that some people believe the Earth is flat, yet it is well within their rights to do so. I think we’re more inclined to look at the evidence weigh which seems most plausible and then argue our points. When it comes to race and gender it seems a small minority are confusing the differences and falling into denial rather than presenting and examining evidence for these things and understanding, or at least trying to understand, opposing/contradictory positions held by others.

To add, I was under the impression the US was a mixing pot of cultures not a country that expects people to dismiss their cultural heritage upon arrival. There is an extremely rich latin/afro-caribbean heritage along with throw backs from European settlers (Italian, Dutch, German, Irish, etc.,.).
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 4th, 2019, 10:56 am 

BadgerJelly » February 4th, 2019, 1:05 am wrote:I meant “race” as in Human race (biological term) and “race” as in cultural term.

I don't know what that means.

There is a distinction between what you wish and what is. I can call myself Japanese but having never been born or lived in Japan doesn’t really seem sensible to me - even though I have spent some time wish Japanese people, I wouldn’t imagine someone would speak to me and consider me to be Japanese. However if I was born and raised in Japan, spoke Japanese, dressed like a Japanese person, and held to the same kind of cultural values as Japanese people (meaning following traditions in cuisine, art and op culture) then I’d be readily thought of as Japanese because other than my apperance I would be Japanese.

That's just the point: that you could be rejected simply because you have European eyes. Transracialism isn't about telling lies or making believe, nor even learning a language or adopting a costume: it's about identifying with a different heritage from the one you've been assigned. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some westerners immersed themselves in Japanese culture to the extent of feeling Japanese. Certainly, colonialists used to "go native" in the South Pacific. German and Czech tourists still love dressing up like Ojibwa, sleeping in teepees and beating on drums; a few learn the language and customs and would identify as native North American, given a chance. I fail to see any harm in that: they're not trying to change the culture (if anything, they have a vested interest in reinforcing tradition) and it's so very few people, they wouldn't even dilute the gene-pool.

The matter of Black and White America is unique, though. These were both transplants that have interacted, been infused with new waves of immigration, competed, clashed, meshed and evolved over four hundred or so years. The 'races' have mixed, the persons have loved, fought, admired, imitated, insulted, resented, envied and parodied one another. They're so intertwined as to be inextricable. Crossovers are to be expected. For example, wouldn't you expect identification with the spouse in an interracial marriage? That's over 20% right there. When a dark-skinned or Hispanic person acts, speaks, dresses and behaves like the majority of Anglo/Europeans - which is a standard requirement for success - they're considered normal, mainstream. Not the other way around. How come?

I imagine a white person saying they are black would be met with negative reactions by many people - not me, so long as they don’t go claiming they are physically black when there is no physical evidence to suggest that they are black

When mixed-race people with light complexions "passed" for white in order to get into college or a decent job or place to live, they were reviled, persecuted, and sometime prosecuted. Then, in the sixties, a whole lot of ginger-ale coloured youngsters began proudly identifying as black. These designations were not based on superficial physical appearance, but on ancestry. First, the whites were jealous of their privilege, then the blacks became jealous of their struggle.

Point being again, how you identify doesn’t mean it is what you are, yet how you identify is certainly extremely important because that is essentially your sense of selfhood.

That sounds like a contradiction to me. Maybe what you really are is not evident on the surface. Some of the young people who 'felt like' the other sex turned out to be the other sex: born with ambiguous external genitalia and misassigned by the parents or doctors. How do we know that can't happen with race? In fact, you can be white and still have sickle cell anemia - Semitic peoples are also susceptible, and the Middle east region has had considerable genetic overlapping.

It is worrying that some people believe the Earth is flat, yet it is well within their rights to do so.

But not to teach it to my grandchildren in a public school that I support.

To add, I was under the impression the US was a mixing pot of cultures not a country that expects people to dismiss their cultural heritage upon arrival. There is an extremely rich latin/afro-caribbean heritage along with throw backs from European settlers (Italian, Dutch, German, Irish, etc.,.).

Yes, and a lot of Anglo-Americans (and anglicized German, Dutch, etc. Americans) are still unhappy about that. The US was supposed to be a "melting pot", which does pretty much mean leave your past behind, learn English and assimilate. For some people it still means turn Protestant, as well.
Canada is supposed to be a "mosaic", which mean, bring your culture and adapt to the proximity of other cultures.
But supposing doesn't really figure: people feel as they feel and no official line will make them feel differently. You can beat them up for it or accept them.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby TheVat on February 4th, 2019, 12:56 pm 

If race is really cultural (which seems to be the case), then the question of acceptance of transracialism would depend on how deep and far back a society asks a person to be immersed in said culture in order to satisfy some consensus on authenticity. If we get past the old fashioned criterion of a physical marker (e.g. melanin), then we're really in the epistemic realm of very arbitrary and subjective markers (plays a smokin blues riff, knows how much basil goes in the sauce, whatever). Which makes consensus unlikely and pretty vague at best. In which case, for me, this leaves personal testimony as the only viable means....i.e. we trust each other. If she says she feels black or Japanese ("I'm going Japanese I really think so") or Swedish Lutheran, then we respect that and offer barbecue or sushi or lutfisk, whichever fits. Though, given, the cultural mosaic that is the typical North American, I think strict ethno/racial self-categorization would be a struggle for most people. When I sit at the piano I'm black, but when I sit at the dinner table I'm Italian. And the silliness of that statement underscores the problem with rigid cultural boundaries.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby BadgerJelly on February 4th, 2019, 1:37 pm 

Serpent -

I simply meant that I believe a lot of the apparent controversy Lomax refers to stems from the different uses of the term “race” - one scientific and the other social (which I perhaps rather clumsily labeled “cultural race”).

It happens a lot with sensitive subjects. People assume hostile intent and are primed to attack as soon as they see any topic delving into the messy delineations of personal identity, freedom of individuals and scientific jargon to boot.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Lomax on February 4th, 2019, 3:17 pm 

Badgerjelly, a lot of your concerns are reasonable (and similar to mine, pre-read) and they speak to the strength of the essay, because Tuvel anticipates all of them, and provides (I think) some quite persuasive responses. A lot of the controversy was because some feminists and trans-activists thought (again, often without having read it) that the essay was comparing transgender identity to blackface. As you say, they assumed hostile intent toward transgender people, rather than a welcoming intent towards transracial people. You make the hypothetical point about being Japanese in all but appearance - by the same criteria it could be argued that this is a mutatis mutandis description of the much-maligned Rachel Dolezal.

TheVat - relieved to see you've kept the Brain. In truth I oppose transgender identity on epistemic grounds while supporting it on political grounds. That is to say, I do not see how I could say "I feel like I am psychologically a woman" without relying on stereotypes of what kind of personality a woman quintessentially has. (Tuvel anticipates this sort of objection too, in a couple of ways.) All the same it makes perfect sense for a person to say "I wish to be a woman" and I do not see how it could possibly be my place to stop them. Even from this position it is hard to see why we should apply additional barriers to race.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby BadgerJelly on February 4th, 2019, 3:30 pm 

Still not gotten round to reading. Ended up chatting to someone at airport. Tomorrow ... Happy New Year ...again! Oink! Oink! ;)
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby TheVat on February 4th, 2019, 5:13 pm 

Year of the Dog will end and I may change my avatar, but maybe not, I've grown attached to it and feel that dogginess is more and more my cultural identity. If i can be accepted as an audiophile mutt, then I will support your right to oink, and porcine identity generally. Though as the happily returned Lomax warns, you may get caught up in stereotypical piggish behavior before you can determine your authentic inner boar. Try not to wallow?
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Lomax on February 4th, 2019, 5:54 pm 

I've always hankered for an impressive set of peaks. Can't say I've ever had a taste for the trough.

As long as you haven't transitioned into James Corden by new year there'll be no wallowing from me.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 4th, 2019, 6:00 pm 

I don't feel like a pig. But I can't help the year of my birth. So I decided to opt out of being Chinese.

I really don't think this is ever going to be a real problem, whether of gender or culture or race. If they act like they belong, let 'em! What's it going to hurt?
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Lomax on February 4th, 2019, 6:06 pm 

I quite agree, but since nobody here seems to disagree, I'll be fair on the opponents of trans identity and signpost an argument on their behalf. Some of them worry, as it were, about putting a wolf in the pig pen.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 4th, 2019, 7:30 pm 

So, don't put a suspected pretender in the same cell with a vulnerable young person. Better yet, don't put sex offenders of any kind in with a vulnerable population. Better still, don't create a situation where any prisoner can attack another, sexually or otherwise.

There can always be infiltrators, moles, provocateurs or undercover cops in any organization. If you're not sure of someone's loyalty, don't trust him/her with your password. Deception is not a necessary aspect of trans-identity.

OTH, I can imagine a fad. Young people are often susceptible to movements and causes, where they want to identify with a heroic image or victim or role model and simply imitate something that isn't really part of their nature. Kids used to go on protests for things they didn't really understand; girls used to date and sometimes marry Black men they didn't love - out of a desire to be contrary. Bandwagons can be socially dangerous and personally tragic. But so can denying people their inner identity. You just need to judge case by case.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Lomax on February 4th, 2019, 8:21 pm 

I did find it a little odd that trans oppositionists seem to be saying "violence and rape in prisons are fine as long as nobody's got too much of a competitive advantage". After all, as Hitch put it, they're in jail as punishment, not for punishment.

Similarly, I know (generally smart, sensible, rigorous) feminists who worry that MtF transgender people threaten womens' rights - what absurdity is this? It is as if to say that women finally have the upper hand and now men can steal it back by doing something as easy as undergoing years of hormone realignment and surgery.

All the same, people with such perspectives don't appear to be present to defend themselves. I thought it might be constructive to glimpse over the fence.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 5th, 2019, 2:25 am 

Lomax » February 4th, 2019, 7:21 pm wrote:Similarly, I know (generally smart, sensible, rigorous) feminists who worry that MtF transgender people threaten womens' rights - what absurdity is this? It is as if to say that women finally have the upper hand and now men can steal it back by doing something as easy as undergoing years of hormone realignment and surgery.

I do kind of see a point in there. Besides simple human resentment of anyone riding one's coattails.
People who have had to fight long and hard for equal rights - whichever disenfranchised group that is - could feel threatened by wannabees in several ways. Public spotlights on issues that affects a very tiny minority might make the mainstream complacent, like "If you have time for this, your major grievances must be fixed already." Marginal controversies are easy to lampoon, and that can dilute or trivialize the bigger issues. If any of the claimants turn out to be pretenders or predators, the whole movement may be tainted. Any kind of new and strange material introduced into a struggle can cause disruption, disagreement in the ranks, when solidarity is essential. And there is always, always, the fear of Greek horses. These may seem like petty concerns, but when you're hanging on by the fingernails, all threats are serious: your enemies are looking for a chink, a weakness to attack; you get into the habit of hyper-vigilance.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby TheVat on February 5th, 2019, 11:42 am 

You've raised so many interesting issues here, Serpent, that I want to reflect on, but your point about wannabes, or those perceived as such, really got me thinking about the choice aspect: a genetically determined trait that can't be easily changed does tend to make people feel both committed and sometimes trapped. If you are of African descent, you can't so easily wake up and become pale, blue_eyed and European featured and declare a new cultural identity to go with that. So you might resent someone who declares themselves "black" while having the option of going back to being white if things get tough or some expected cultural ascendancy fails to occur. As you say, if gaining a foothold in the larger American culture was a great struggle, you wouldn't want people who come along and make your cultural identity seem like a fad. Where I live, Native Americans (what you guys call first nations) have problems with a faddish appropriation of their heritage, people who come in and just want the cool stuff (vision quests, sweatlodges, earth worship) but take them like shiny items from a supermarket shelf.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 5th, 2019, 1:22 pm 

Exactly!
We have some association with a local Ojibwa family who used to run one of those "Indian" campgrounds that offered near-authentic accommodation and activities. Terrific fun for everybody, including the natives who worked there, and a nice income for contributors to the thriving gift shop. White people ("settlers") are also welcome to the summer pow-wow and continent-wide dance exhibitions at the nearby reserve. Good relations generally, except the odd legal tussle over land and water rights.
And that's fine. We're welcome to play at Indians any time.... just don't try moving in. Or adopting a baby. Other places, there have been problems with mixed marriage, too. Some first nations are extremely possessive of their genetic heritage. The rationale being that they're already endangered and don't want their tiny gene-pool to disappear in an ocean of invaders.
Plus, there is the long and checkered past of stereotyping for mass entertainment. To be sure, a number of tribes (never mind the individual artists who achieved fame) did very well out of the white people's fascination with their cultures. And that, too, can be a subject for shaming by purists.
No culture, no political movement, no large group of people, is ever monolithic - schisms and ructions are ever to be on guard against.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Lomax on February 5th, 2019, 3:51 pm 

Tuvel devotes about an eighth of her essay to addressing this concern, and I think her rejionders are quite forceful. Emended for brevity:

Rebecca Tuvel wrote:Finally, there is the objection that it is a wrongful exercise of white privilege for a white-born person, such as Dolezal, to cross into the black racial category.

First, to the point that a white-born person could always exercise white privilege by returning to being white, I note that the same argument would problematically apply to a male-to-female (mtf) trans individual who could return to male privilege, perhaps especially if his individual has not undergone gender confirmation surgery.

Rebecca Tuvel wrote:Next, let’s consider the idea that white-black transitions are easier than black-white, and therefore an exercise of white-born privilege. [...] The same argument would appear to rule out many practices we currently allow. For instance, men exercise male privilege when they get more jobs as philosophy professors. Yet we do not hereby suggest that we get rid of philosophy professors. Rather, we try to address gender inequality so that more women are represented in the discipline. Similarly, if it is decided that transracialism is morally acceptable, then we should work toward a world in which it is easier for all individuals who qualify to transition into their race of identification. Put otherwise, the problem of exercising privilege is an independent problem, not one germane to transracialism alone.

[...] there is no reason to think that transracial crossing can only ever, as a matter of empirical truth, go in the direction of white to black. Indeed, although Michael Jackson had the skin-lightening disease vitiligo, it is possible the disease was triggered by skin bleaching, suggesting that Jackson’s black to white appearance might be an example of such a transition (Taraborrelli 2004, 436). More recently, rapper Lil’ Kim has been in the news for having undergone a transition from a black to white appearance

Rebecca Tuvel wrote:As a second rejoinder to the idea that an individual like Dolezal is wrongly exercising white privilege, it is difficult to see how giving up one’s whiteness and becoming black is an exercise of white privilege. Rather, it seems like the ultimate renunciation of white privilege, if by white privilege we understand an unearned system of advantages conferred onto white bodies. In giving up whiteness and taking on the lived experience of being black in a racist society, one might instead view Dolezal as refusing to benefit from an unequal system of advantages conferred on the basis of her skin color. Indeed, Dolezal herself has stated her belief that race is a “hierarchical system that was created to leverage power and privilege between different groups of people” (Timpf 2015). In this way, perhaps Dolezal is best understood as rejecting white privilege, not exercising it. As Noel Ignatiev put the point, "If giving up whiteness is a privilege, what do you call hanging on to it?"
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 5th, 2019, 4:32 pm 

I'm not impressed with... Scratch that - I am impressed with her thoroughness -
I'm not very concerned with a comparison of transgender and transracial situations. Both are fraught with peril; both are subject to attack from front and back; both are unenviable.
I'm more interested in the defensive stance of beleaguered groups generally. I do, for example, understand an attitude like: "Sure, now it's safe, you're one of us. Where were you when we got beaten and locked up just for existing? How dare you poach the fruit of our struggle?"
I sympathize - I do not agree.
I believe the long-term prospects of whatever movement or brotherhood, tribe, federation, faction or cause can only be improved by fresh recruits. The substance will be changed, but change is inevitable anyway. If the original identity is eventually lost... well, of course, it must be. We can't remain forever Suffragettes or Bolsheviks, Fabians or Zionists.
That's just the world. The less we hurt people who mean us no harm, the more positive those inevitable change will be.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby BadgerJelly on February 6th, 2019, 4:24 am 

I couldn’t read it all. Got bored ... I certainly don’t adhere to the nonsense that the number of male philosophers is due to male “domination” if she said that? A factor, for sure, but nothing suggests that as a main cause.

I also personally experienced the issue of confusing terminology fro one field to another in the thread about “race and IQ” where many were concerned with dismissing both of the terms outright rather than addressing what they meant within the hiven context.

Sadly it seems the general public often fall into this trap too. No one can literally change sex or race on a biological level completely - at least not to date. If I was told by someone who appeared European to refer to them as being Chinese simply because they “felt Chinese” (having no evidence of having lived in China or spent any time aruond Chinese people and with only a superficial understanding of the language/culture I most certainly wouldn’t take them seriously and if they were upset by this I still wouldn’t likely change my view of them because I couldn’t (so why lie about it?).

The same issue goes for gender identity, which I believe is the most acceptable term and to talk of “sex identity” is utter nonsense in my mind although I am partly willing to adopt the term as a means to translate, but I wouldn’t change my use of language to suit another’s opinon of themselves. I don’t think her notes are sufficent and it would’ve made more sense to present the distinctions of terms (gender, sex, etc.,.) and how she intended to use them in the essay from the outset.

People everywhere are generally treated by the manner in which they hold and present themselves.

It seems unless what you say isn’t sensationalized people don’t care to publish it nowadays.

If I met a man claiming to be a woman who dressed as a man I would instinctively refer to them as he/him and/or they, because that is how I see them. If it was a man dressed as a woman asking to be referred to as she I’d happily comply, although I may err on occasion depending on how much they looked like a woman. Once I got to know then I may very well view them as “a woman” too.

It seems the paper was perhaps written to get attention, and/or some people decided to attack it simply to drive their personal ideologies down the throat of others. Controversial? I didn’t see anything in what I read and the rest that I skimmed through other than some poor use of terminology.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 6th, 2019, 9:58 am 

BadgerJelly » February 6th, 2019, 3:24 am wrote:If I was told by someone who appeared European to refer to them as being Chinese simply because they “felt Chinese”
Do you normally question the stated nationality of people on first meeting? When introduced, exactly nobody says "My name is Chen and I feel Italian", whereupon nobody answers, "Funny, you don't look Italian." This is not how identification outside one's culture, race, assigned gender or ethnicity manifests. These ad absurdum scenarios are only ever invented by the detractors.
(having no evidence of having lived in China or spent any time aruond Chinese people and with only a superficial understanding of the language/culture

What makes you assume this? If someone from Europe openly identified as Chinese, they would probably exhibit a greater knowledge of the culture, language and tradition than a native - and might very well have invested in eyelid surgery (as many Asians do, btw).

It seems the paper was perhaps written to get attention,

for the plight of a particular woman who taught African studies and worked for the NAACP for years before anyone questioned her biological ancestry. She's also made considerable effort to look more African. You can have other issues with her, or with Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, but they didn't just suddenly make a baseless claim: they were willing to put all their resources behind their conviction.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby BadgerJelly on February 6th, 2019, 10:13 am 

Serpent -

If someone from Europe openly identified as Chinese, they would probably exhibit a greater knowledge of the culture, language and tradition than a native


Or they may believe they have greater knowledge. To exaggerate a position is not absurd if it points out that there is a proble regarding the division between those wishing to manipulate others for their own agendas and those genuine in their pursuit for selfhood - possibly influenced by the terms used accurately or otherwise.

These ad absurdum scenarios are only ever invented by the detractors.


How am I a “detractor”? What am I a “detractor” of exactly?
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby Serpent on February 6th, 2019, 10:30 am 

BadgerJelly » February 6th, 2019, 9:13 am wrote:[If someone from Europe openly identified as Chinese, they would probably exhibit a greater knowledge of the culture, language and tradition than a native]

Or they may believe they have greater knowledge. To exaggerate a position is not absurd if it points out that there is a proble regarding the division between those wishing to manipulate others for their own agendas and those genuine in their pursuit for selfhood - possibly influenced by the terms used accurately or otherwise.

Possibly, or they may, for whatever reason... Yes, a bad thing might happen. But did it? Show me the actual harm in the real world done by persons who identify as other than they superficially appear.
Show me the problem in not dividing people along arbitrarily assigned designations.

How am I a “detractor”? What am I a “detractor” of exactly?

I haven't been able to figure that out. Maybe you're just devil's advocating, or experimenting with ideas? You keep bringing up these improbable examples that never happened and then saying what response would be if they did happen - which sound like arguments I've heard from far right conservatives - but I don't see what purpose they serve here or what the gist of your argument is.
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby BadgerJelly on February 6th, 2019, 11:17 am 

Serpent -

Did I say it did? Does it actually matter given that I was quite obviously highlighting that there is a problem of definition (like I have from the outset).

What argument? I just stated that the article seems to have touched a nerve due to people sensationalising this or that item in the news. It is considered “controversial” because some people act with outrage the instant they see “race” or “gender” and ignore the points being made. I thought the article was quite mundane; but maybe I missed something because I skimmed the second half?

Show me the problem in not dividing people along arbitrarily assigned designations.


Why? I assume you can think for yourself and imagine possible legal problems in this regard. If people are different then pretending they are not doesn’t seem massively productive for social cohension and mutual understanding, does it?

Delineations are important. How arbitrary or not they may be is a matter for debate. When it comes to common perspectives that are faulty then it takes time to adjust and you’ll have large groups of people doubling down simply due to the need to win the argument rather than consider how and where their ideas are at fault, vague or suspiciously strong.

If you don’t see how my thoughts are relevant then you don’t see. It seems that the OP quite clearly outlined the sensationalist overreaction by some where they resigned. Clearly they had a issue with the delineations talked about by the author. To me it seems, and I’ll repeat, mundane and even obvious - the only fault I could find was with the way in which the terminology is amended at the end of the essay rather than focused more carefully in the actual text (it was a critique of presentation and also of wariness in regards to the intent of the article).
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby TheVat on February 6th, 2019, 12:18 pm 

One could hope for discussion focused on philosophical content rather than authorial intent and style.

I would postulate it is safe to assume any European descended person who claims to be a person of color is, as Tuvel suggests, rejecting privilege. I don't know any African descended people whose parents didn't sit them down and have what's called The Talk. If you are unfamiliar with this rite, it's worth googling. In 2019, in USA, being black (or Hispanic, or native) still means you have to "watch your step." Here is one of many links on The Talk...

https://www.vox.com/2016/8/8/12401792/p ... s-the-talk
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Re: In Defense of Transracialism

Postby BadgerJelly on February 6th, 2019, 12:36 pm 

Vat -

One could hope for discussion focused on philosophical content rather than authorial intent and style.


I guess I misunderstood the point of the OP then.
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