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Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial" People

Recently, the now-former head of the NAACP's Spokane chapter has been making headlines. Her parents are both white, but she's been "identifying" as black. Here are a few news articles- I tried to get a diverse selection. I found videos of the two most recent interviews with her, too- they're about ten minutes each.

 

CNN Article

Fox News Article

"I Identify as Black" Interview

 

Notably, in the first interview, she stated that she has been identified as "transracial" in the past, although she herself did not use the word to describe herself. However, many people have been quick to call her by that label, and it does indeed seem that she is equating her "identity" with the experiences of transgender people.

 

Otherkin, unfortunately, have often been associated with "transracial" people following a troll notoriously calling themselves an "autistic pangender asexual demiromantic trans-asian cat", and people taking them seriously. Searching "transethnic" quickly brings up results for otherkin (on my browser anyways). With Dolezal making headlines, I'm curious about the possible effects on the otherkin community. What do you guys think of "transracial" or "transethnic" people, and the situation with Rachel Dolezal? Do you think there will be any effect on the otherkin community because of this?

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This may be a little long.

I don't believe 'transracial' is the correct way to coin this whole thing. Transracial, according to the Oxford English Dictionary is defined as: "across or crossing racial boundaries." This term is used most often to describe 'transracial adoption', which is when parents of one or more races adopts a child of a race totally separate from their own. In those cases it is definitely an issue of more cultural association than racial (race is biological whereas culture is not). The term 'transracial' is not necessarily an identifier as 'transgender' is; and should definitely not be compared. However, we have the term 'transethnic' which has sprung up in recent years among many social networking cites. Although not officially recognized as a term it is loosely described as " A person who feels as if they should be from a different ethnicity, meant in a similar way to transexual." With my experiences with people who identify this way I have more often than not come across those, normally Caucasian, who use this to exoticify and assume entitlement of a culture that is not their own. Normally these people pick and choose what parts of a people they want to identify with. Is that the case here? Possibly. It's hard to tell. Even so I still do not see it fair to compare the transexual and transgender identities with this situation. The transgender struggle is an issue different from identifying with romantic ideas you may have about a people and a their way of life.

 

Here are some good reads, and a great watch:

Jon Stewart Nailed the Truth About Rachel Dolezal That Nobody Is Talking About

A black trans woman explains changing gender vs. changing race.

 

As a Puerto Rican woman I would be very upset if someone were to identify as trans-Puerto Rican if they were not raised by people who are of the same cultural decent as I. There are struggles I have gone through and that my family has gone through because of who we are, and picking your 'race' is over romanticizing the 'good' parts you may have been exposed to about a people, their way of life, and their experiences.

I have not formulated an opinion about how this will effect the otherkin community, and I had not considered it. Now I have some food for thought.

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I'm really not sure what to think about this woman. I recall reading the story on NPR when it first broke, and I recall feeling... Not very much of anything? I'm not sure. I can't get a read on her true intentions or belief in this matter. It's definitely one I'll keep an eye on as it develops, of only to see the reactions from the world at large.

 

Along the same lines as the whole 'transethnic' thing, I actually went to school with a Puerto Rican guy who insisted he should have been Chinese. Everyone called him Ming Ling, even his family, and he was a pretty good friend of mine in high school. He was a really happy guy, really friendly. He engrossed himself in Chinese culture, started teaching himself the language, and he was on an endless quest to grow a Fu Manchu mustache and beard. I don't know what ever happened to him after we graduated, since I moved away for a few years.

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Along the same lines as the whole 'transethnic' thing, I actually went to school with a Puerto Rican guy who insisted he should have been Chinese. Everyone called him Ming Ling, even his family, and he was a pretty good friend of mine in high school. He was a really happy guy, really friendly. He engrossed himself in Chinese culture, started teaching himself the language, and he was on an endless quest to grow a Fu Manchu mustache and beard. I don't know what ever happened to him after we graduated, since I moved away for a few years.

 

Could you tell me more about this person? I'm very curious.

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I will admit that I know very little on the subject so I may be way off base. I may also be way off base for I'm white through and through and am not trans gendered. But I still wanted to say a few things because conversations.

 

First, what is wrong with people? I do like the points that was brought up in Marz's Jon Stewart link. I think this whole transracial thing misses the whole point. And I think anyone who identifies as transracial (I've seen this before on Tumblr before it hit the news) has no clue about white privilege. Or are in general a crappy person. I actually thought it came about as people trying to make fun of trans gendered people.

 

Something like this makes me wish there was a way to change a person's skin color just so people who try to do this whole transracial thing can see what it's really like being what they claim they are. They'd probably change their minds really quick. And then because people suck, do nothing to make the lives of those peoples better.

 

I see it on the same level as white people who wear war bonnets. People saying they understand and appreciate other people's culture but they're actions not following suit.

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Could you tell me more about this person? I'm very curious.

I'm afraid there's not too much more to tell about him unless you have specific questions. I only ever saw him in art class during my Junior and Senior year of high school. He was a cool guy. We had fun in class, told endless dirty jokes, and we made up a theme song for him going along with that oh-so stereotypical 'Asian' tune that everyone on the planet knows, something he just loved to bits. The whole wanting to be Chinese thing never really got in the way. We all just rolled with it.

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I'm afraid there's not too much more to tell about him unless you have specific questions. I only ever saw him in art class during my Junior and Senior year of high school. He was a cool guy. We had fun in class, told endless dirty jokes, and we made up a theme song for him going along with that oh-so stereotypical 'Asian' tune that everyone on the planet knows, something he just loved to bits. The whole wanting to be Chinese thing never really got in the way. We all just rolled with it.

Did you ever question it, like ask him why he felt that way? What about Chinese culture did he identify with? I guess those are the only questions I do have really.

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Did you ever question it, like ask him why he felt that way? What about Chinese culture did he identify with? I guess those are the only questions I do have really.

I think we did, but he must've answered with something like "I just do." Whatever it was, it was good enough for us at the time and we didn't question it beyond that. Our group wasn't exactly the type to wax philosophical at that time. I'm afraid we were far more interested in dick jokes. ^^;

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I think we did, but he must've answered with something like "I just do." Whatever it was, it was good enough for us at the time and we didn't question it beyond that. Our group wasn't exactly the type to wax philosophical at that time. I'm afraid we were far more interested in dick jokes. ^^;

Hahaha alright. Thanks for bringing it up at least! :)

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In some way, this will probably end up affecting us, I have a feeling. We're the type of group people would love to dump the blame on for these new "identities" popping up. Might give more trolls something to go off of, as well. However, for my beliefs personally on the subject, I can't say anything because I don't understand a need for race... human ideals confuse me in this area.

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It being compared to being transgender is very wrong. As I am transgender myself I can guarantee that they are very different. And transracial is the term coined by the African American community for when a POC child get's adopted by typically white parents. I actually know that pretty well considering my girlfriend is mexican and was adopted by white parents as a baby. And for the thing with transethnic vs transgender, people who claim to be transethnic are just fetishizing the culture. They don't know the actual struggles that people from that culture face, and they usually don't want to accept the entire culture, just the stereotypical parts that they like.

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In my opinion I think she's doing it to get attention which irks me because it's just like someone who claims to be kin and they're obviously not. I don't believe at all that she can possibly be black even when she tries to mask that she is. I simply didn't choose to be 'kin it just happened that way and I think it goes for race as well much as I enjoy the Japanese culture I don't identify as Japanese. I smell a whole lot of BS from this lady.

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I feel like, even putting aside the perceived legitimacy of the personal identities involved, the key difference is that the concept of otherkin is not inherently offensive or harmful to anyone. It can be used that way, but it usually isn't, and it isn't defined by that. Transethnicity, however, is downright dangerous territory from the starting gate. (My viewpoints on this in relation to gender identity have already been summed up in this thread.)

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Rachel, I don't know much about, but we're pretty sure she's a fake. That being said, I have a somewhat different view on the concept of transracial or transethic people-I believe it's "possible" (my view is somewhat different, because of being in a system where the members can look differently) but in any case, it wouldn't be a thing to really matter to begin with, and is certainly not in any way comparable to being transgender (which I'm also sort of.) What I'm saying is that even if you were, say, a black man in a white person's body, what's the difference besides being a shade or two darker? Saying that there is a thing such as transracial, and that it's the same as transgender is harmful because for starters, it reinforces the idea that there is such a thing as race to begin with, or that there is something fundamentally different between each race (with transgender people, there is a difference between being male and female, and with otherkin, there is a difference between being otherkin and being 100% human, but there's no fundamental difference between being African-American and being Caucasian/white, or being any other race, other than the skin color, that one could claim to "know" at birth, or anything like that.) Being African-American in body, we know there is a strong history of fighting for the right to be seen as the same as every other human being, and this "transracial" issue could hurt the community, even in a minor way, because there are still stereotypes out there about us, and still racists who think that African-Americans are not equal to Caucasians in some way (and I really don't like the idea of adding fuel to the fire.) And race is more than just a color, at least for humans-it defines your history in this place, who your ancestors were, your struggles and privileges, and even your culture, and saying that all of that is reflected just by being a shade or two darker...it's not right, personally to me. The only thing I hope is that she was actually doing good in the NAACP, and not profiting in a bad way.

 

As for whether it will affect otherkin badly...I can see this affecting a whole lot of communities badly. Otherkin might get some of the hits due to people linking otherkin trolls with weird identities and thinking that we're all behind it. The plural communities which tend to intersect with otherkin could also be targeted due to many systems having members who do not identify as having the same form as the body, even as humans (but that's a far cry from being transethnic/transracial.) Even the trans communities could be hurt by this, because people could see it as another ridiculous story, and think that it's a reason why transgender people "should not be." I don't see a positive coming out of this at all.

 

-S

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Rereading this made me think about something... what about Michael Jackson? Did the world forget he existed, and actually tried to change his skin?

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alright so, as a transgender person, i'm actually really worried about the proximity of Caitlyn Jenner transitioning and Rachel Dolezal getting caught in her lie. it's hard enough coming out to people with just the normal stigma attached to being transgender and the overall ignorance people have about it, but because of how close the two events were, and how "similar", i'm afraid that people will get it into their heads that transgenderness is just as ridiculous or untrue as transethnicity, that we do it to get our way, to further our careers or social life in a way that our assigned gender never could achieve, as Dolezal did with pretending to be black, when that couldn't be farther from the truth of our intentions and realities. Dolezal wanted a free pass to fame or at least money and attention, as evidenced by her actions leading up to her secret being exposed. transgender people just want to live life as the gender we are and always have been.

 

also, in relation to otherkin, there've already been posts on tumblr in the otherkin tags comparing transethnicity to otherkinity so. that's a thing.

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Quite honestly I can see a sort of "statues quoe" coming into play with other people who are influential in school.

But on the other hand I have had a Brittish accent and loved their culture before I even knew what they were.

I find myself speaking that way more fluently then Amerian which I was born into naturally. I am not sure about "identification"

 

But if it means in a past life that was all they knew, or influential reasoning began to make that person what they were.... then

in either case I can see the identification being something. Just as "fiction-kin" claim to be something they can connect with to a complete level,

I am sure someone can be around or relate heavily with a black person and identify as them due to their overall thought process and agreement with their personality traits,

or with that particular culture even.

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I was actually really thinking about ignoring this thread all together, but im pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

First and foremost I am black and as an African American person in the USA and abroad even, I'm sure I've experienced things Ms. Dolezal could only ever read about. It's just not fair that she uses experiences and literature made by black people for the advancement of black people for her own agenda. It isnt fair that she gets to pretend to be black for the money, and still get to bask in her white privilege in her daily life. She appropriated the black experience, and she appropriated the experiences and hardships of transracial people; a term used by people of color adopted into white families who experience a disconnect with their biological racial background.

Not only did she assist in the mistrust of the NAACP by black youth (it was already faltering to be honest) but she pushed back the public understanding of transness by about 10 fucking years.

Now everybody is going to think 'trans' anything means just pretending. She is affecting everyone with her nonsense. People of color, transracial people of color, nonbinary people, transfolk and otherkin.

I'm fairly certain she's the devil. (my apologies to the demon-kin here. i know you dont want her either.)

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As a black person I have to say I was not overtly offended by this woman's...strange imitation of what she thinks it is to be black. I was more offended by her lying. She disowned her parents and made up stories about how she's experienced hate crimes. And the supposed stories of being abused by her parents are also said to be false. My issues is less with her identifying as black and more her lying about actually being black. There are plenty of people who identify with more with cultures other than their own, but they don't lie about their origins and racial background.

 

She could have done all of this without lying about this and that. I don't think it would have been a big deal. You don't need to be a minority to take a stand for a minority's hardships and causes. But her lying changes all this into something that feels...disrespectful and lacking in integrity.

 

The same thing happens with those fake Native American tribes out there(yes this is a thing). People going around pretending and lying about having native ancestry. That's another topic that strikes a nerve given I actually do...but that's for another thread lol

 

Edit:

Oh I forgot the actual question was how would it effect the kin community lol. Well, I think it certainly doesn't do it any favors and will likely get mor people in this mind set of "Well hey these people can just up and choose to be black one day so I can just be kin now since I like it"....yeah I see even more of that happening possibly, though not as a direct immediate result of this issue.

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As a black person I have to say I was not overtly offended by this woman's...strange imitation of what she thinks it is to be black. I was more offended by her lying. She disowned her parents and made up stories about how she's experienced hate crimes. And the supposed stories of being abused by her parents are also said to be false. My issues is less with her identifying as black and more her lying about actually being black. There are plenty of people who identify with more with cultures other than their own, but they don't lie about their origins and and racial background.

 

She could have done all of this without lying about all this and that. I don't think it would have been a big deal. You don't need to be a minority to take a stand for a minority's hardships and causes. But her lying changes all this into something that feels...disrespectful and lacking in integrity.

 

The same thing happens with those fake Native American tribes out there(yes this is a thing). People going around pretending and lying about having native ancestry. That's another topic that strikes a nerve given I actually do...but that's for another thread lol

 

Edit:

Oh I forgot the actual question was how would it effect the kin community lol. Well, I think it certainly doesn't do it any favors and will likely get mor people in this mind set of "Well hey these people can just up and choose to be black one day so I can just be kin now since I like it"....yeah I see even more of that happening possibly, though not as a direct immediate result of this issue.

 

My thoughts exactly. If she had only put her talents, resources, and time towards furthering the cause she supported rather than weaving this intricate web of lies and deceit all the way around, no one would have a problem with it. She all but destroyed herself, and by the time it's all said and done, there will be little left of her credibility period.

 

It really is a shame.

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My birth town is in the news! I was born in Spokane. (Best city in Washington state, fyi)

 

I have no problem with people identifying as another culture, as long as its not superficial. I mean, no one questioned her for years, and the moment they find out she might be white and they lose their crap? It should not matter what color she actually is, if she fits into the culture that well. I won't delve into the who "Racist" perspective, because I already know I will have an unpopular opinion on that.

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I'm surprised nobody has said my opinion, for the most part.

I think that transculturism is possible, as well as transethnicity:

 

First off, in transculturism, that came from the discussion of transracial. If a black child were adopted into a white family, and identifies as "white," is it really transculture? They are part of the same culture, the "white" culture is dilluted though, because it has black members. The black members are just as "white" though, like a black person in Britain, they are no less British. Because America doesn't (shouldn't, because it really does) have an ethnic connotation, I wouldn't use the US as an example.

Now, does a black person in a black culture understand white culture? No! Nor vice versa. [i don't mean to use any specific examples for these, any/everything is possible.] The black person raised by whites doesn't either. That's not to say it can't be understood, but a certain level of immersion and understanding must be reached.

 

I should add a transracial description as well, where there are certain ways that a POC will be treated while being culturally "white." I heard a story of a white family, with a black child, treating them the same but had to give warnings to the black one while not to the whites. This is distinct to race. (Ideally, in the future, this will not exist.) In my point of view, races are not different, but I am aware society disagrees.

No white->POC will ever be able to experience and therefore truly understand this before making a change (like one guy who changed his skin color by tanning so much, he did this to learn about the Southern black experience in the US.)

I don't think being willing to be transracial is necessary to be transethnic, like not wanting the danger involved in being transgender (in an obvious, external manner, whether that be hormones or dress.) A physically transethnic person obviously should not undergo this without willing to be transracial, because that's just being dumb.

 

As for being transethnic, as I've kind of covered in transculturism, ethnicity doesn't mean culture. I'm mixed ethnicities (caucasian) so can not fit into one culture, only parts of the cultures of my very mixed family(ies). Being born in America is the only recognizable and commonly familiar culture I have. I partially reject it as well.

So transethnicity is really just a physical thing, skin color and associated features of that ethnicity. Who's to say that someone can't feel uncomfortable in their own skin (literally)? The only issue I have with this, is, since it is so superficial (in the assumption that racism is no longer a thing), is at what point is it a "valid" dysphoria that justifies a physical transition vs one that should be only psychologically treated? I do think the former is possible, but what is healthy and what isn't, like rejecting your hair colour. Are you transblonde->brunette? Is that a valid form of dysphoria? What about the people who change colors (such as myself) while being perfectly comfortable, even most comfortable in their own color? The two are really the same. I even feel this was about gender dysphoria, because most of the time, even if I identify as male or androgynous (I'm genderfluid) as a physical female, I do not feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I do get dysphoria, but most of the time I just deal with, and like my genitalia (even as masculine genders) and ignore my reproductive role (which I never like.) The reproductive aspect is separate, because it is. (If I had testes of my own I would be a lot happier because wanting a biological child while not wanting to carry it is hard as a woman.) I don't speak for everyone obviously.

 

If ethnicity is a valid thing to be trans for, then yes I do think it's possible.

 

As for impact on the otherkin community, as mentioned in my previous paragraph, what is possible to be trans- for? Is being transpecies in a physical way possible? I believe not, because of the extreme differences. While we can have similar experiences, we will not be able to have the same experiences (at least with the intelligence, socialization, and etc of animals known today.) I think the people who actually try seem really dumb, although if they actually were otherkin some aspects of their pathetic attempts could be comforting.

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