Within the last month, we have been inundated with news stories, talk show programs, and other pundits discussing the gender change of Bruce Jenner and now everyone is discussing the racial change of Rachel Dolezal. Even though these changes may seem similar to some, there is a considerable contrast between the two.
On 28 October 1949, Bruce Jenner was born into this world as a heterogametic sex which means that he possessed two distinct sex chromosomes (XY) which made him a biological male. That Jenner was born male is not in question because it can be attested to by a pantheon of experts such as biologists, anatomists, geneticists, and physiologists. At the age of 65, Jenner medically and chemically altered his appearance to that of a female. He grew his hair and nails longer, shaved body hair. had his Adam’s apple surgically reduced, took female hormone shots, had breast augmentation surgery. as well as other cosmetic alterations. Even though Jenner altered many things to appear as a woman, he was unable to alter his genetic code and therefore, despite his appearance, remains a biological male. To actually become a female, Jenner would have to alter his heterogametic sex to a homogametic sex possessing two of the same chromosomes (XX), which is an impossibility.
Rachel Dolezal is a civil rights activist, former Africana studies instructor, a person who identifies herself as African American, and, until 15 June 2015, served as the president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. On 11 June 2015, her parents informed the media that their daughter was a white woman who was living a fictionalized life of her own creation.
On the surface this may seem like she is living a lie like Bruce Jenner, but I feel that race is less definitive than gender. Our American society has been rapidly moving from a heterogeneous society to a more homogeneous one where we share a common culture. Whereas, seventy-five years ago race was more definitive, our society is now composed of single racial, biracial, triracial, and multiracial people.
In a recent interview, Dolezal stated that she first began identifying herself as African American at the age of five. For years, to my understanding, she has dedicated her life to the realization of the sterling mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
- To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens
- To achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice among the citizens of the United States
- To remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes
- To seek enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights
- To inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination
- To educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action to secure the exercise thereof, and to take any other lawful action in furtherance of these objectives, consistent with the NAACP’s Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution.
If this is the cause that she has set her hand to then I applaud her for her efforts to enact positive change into the world, no matter what her race may be,