The Incoherence of the Dolezal/Jenner Distinction

I am interested in the sharp distinction being made between these two cases as an example of the incoherence of the progressive worldview, and not because of the cases themselves. And commenters attempts to defend this sharp distinction in response to previous posts leaves me more convinced than ever that I am right about this incoherence.

The two main arguments put forward defending the distiction were:

1) Dolezal lied about her father and/or about being black.

The first lie is not good, but does anyone seriously think that if Dolezal had not done that, then everybody would have said, "Oh, OK then, what she did is cool!"

No, I didn't think so. Therefore, this is a completely peripheral issue to the main question at hand, which is "Is it OK to identify as a different race than one's 'real' one?" Bringing it up is merely an attempt to sidetrack the discussion of this main question.

As far as the second "lie" goes, to declare it is not acceptable for a X person to choose to self-identify as a Y person is the whole question on the table, and calling it a "lie" is just a different way of answering "no": in other words, it is completely question begging.

2) There is a biological basis to transgenderism, while there isn't to transracism.

Of course, this runs contrary to the other progressive point that gender is just a social construct, but in any case, it is again a complete red herring: Does anyone really think that if it was discovered that there is absolutely no biological basis for transgenderism, it would change the minds of people calling Jenner a "hero"?

No, I didn't think so.

What is going on is this: complete sexual freedom, "anything goes so long as it is consensual," and the identification of traditional sexual morality as a barbarous relic are cornerstones of progressive ideology. So anyone who "transgresses" those traditional boundaries is heroic, whether there is any biological basis for those transgressions or not.

On the other hand, racial identity, and in particular the racial identity of oppressed or formerly oppressed people, is an important weapon in the progressive assault on "Eurocentric" civilization. Thus, crossing those boundaries is a very, very bad sort of transgression, and the person who does it is a "fraud" and a "liar."


  1. Anonymous12:30 AM

    Yes, Now you've nailed it.

    take a look at this.

  2. Back when I was in college, 20 years ago, there was some approving talk about isolated cases of white people voluntarily abandoning their white privilege specifically by refusing to continue identifying as white. One almost got the impression that this was being suggested as a movement that might sweep the nation someday, and it would be a good thing. I’m not sure exactly why that seemed Good back then but Dolezal being transracial (or Jeb Bush listing himself as Latino) is Bad now. My impression is that the main thing about Dolezal is that she didn’t go through approved channels. Transgression (or at least épater le bourgeoisie) is performative, but if everybody takes matters into their own hands, then how will the performances all stay on message?

    Unfortunately, it does appear that Dolezal was deceptive at some points. I think that’s a red herring (it’s hard not to become secretive when everyone hates you for the thing you do – and easy to point fingers), but it creates an opportunity for her critics to change the subject.

  3. Does anyone really think that if it was discovered that there is absolutely no biological basis for transgenderism, it would change the minds of people calling Jenner a "hero"?

    It would change my mind. And I don't think I would be the only one.

    You're right that transgenderism being biological is contrary to a lot of the Social Constructivist talk about transgenderism. But that stuff was incoherent to begin with.

    1. "It would change my mind. And I don't think I would be the only one. "

      Of course, saying it would change "no one's" mind is hyperbole. But for the vast majority of social progressives, it would not.

  4. She's a professional white-guilt apparatchik. She made a career out of pretending she had greater insight and understanding because of her (pretended) race. She used her claimed race as a *credential*. That's part of why she has provoked such a reaction: her actions expose how bogus the claims of identity politics really are. (I am largely agreeing with you here in pointing this out. )

  5. I have one possible distinction to suggest: efforts to transform one's gender physically succeeded with Jenner but Dolezal's effort to transform her race actually did not do so because it was just make up and so forth that she used.

  6. It's about honesty. No, they wouldn't have considered it cool or found her sympathetic, but not all stories are deserving of sympathy. They would have noted it though and wouldn't think she was lying. A groupie, odd, but irrelevant. Deceit for acceptance, doesn't call for sympathy. Truth in spite of rejection does.

  7. Anonymous2:35 AM

    Been reading through your posts on this subject today, and had some thoughts of my own (though maybe I'm just restating your argument in a different way?).

    If we're going to distinguish the terms sex and gender (or rather, sex'; see further below) on the grounds that the former is biological and the latter is purely the view of the individual, can't we do that for lots of things? Can't we distinguish between race and race', the former which is completely dependent on your parents and the latter which is your personal view? Can't we distinguish between type of animal and type of animal'? "I was born to human parents but I personally identify as an elephant so I'm going to go get an surgical operation to get a trunk". "Transracism" is really only the beginning to a myriad of absurdities.

  8. Good post Gene. But you lost me a bit on the last paragraph.

    1. How so? What I was saying was that if racial identities become self-defined, it will become hard to tell, e.g., who should be favored by affirmative action and who should not.


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