Transgender vs. Transracial: Is There a Moral Difference?

Recently, Caitlyn Jenner has been in the news–Jenner is a former Olympian who is transgender and recently decided to transition from expressing traditionally male characteristics to expressing traditionally female characteristics. Aside from a few on the right, the media response was generally one of acceptance. By transitioning, Jenner realizes her vision for herself, she achieves a measure of self-actualization. This is good for her and it harms no one else. All of that seems pretty obvious to me, and I wasn’t going to bother writing about Jenner at all, because I think it’s pretty straightforward. But then this other thing happened–a woman named Rachel Dolezal showed up in the news. Dolezal is genetically a white person, but she chooses to present herself as a black person and to identify as black. The media response was very different–Dolezal was accused of pretending to be black when she is in fact a white person, of “faking it”. Many people are accusing Dolezal of appropriating black culture, of being a liar, and so on and so forth. Why are the reactions to these two women so different? Is there a difference, and if so, what’s the difference?

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