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

If you can be transgender, is possible to be "transracial"? Artist and vlogger Kat Blaque explains why changing your gender and changing your race just aren't the same thing.

A black trans woman explains changing gender vs. changing race.
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When the story of Rachel Dolezal (the white NAACP chapter president who has been masquerading as a black woman) went viral, the Internet exploded with countless memes and even more think pieces.

But one not-so-funny trend was comparing Rachel's story to transgender reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner's.


The back story: Rachel Dolezal, a white woman, has allegedly spent the past eight years pretending to be black.

The leader of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP chapter entered the spotlight after she allegedly received hateful messages via her organization's P.O. Box. Things got weird when a police investigation revealed that the messages she received had not been processed by the post office. To make things even weirder, this was just one of a string of hate crimes Dolezal had reported in the past, all under mysterious circumstances.

Shortly after news coverage began, Dolezal's parents came forward with the revelation that their Caucasian-born daughter had been presenting herself as black since 2007. After the slew of memes and viral hashtags subsided, the loudest question was: "How is changing your race any different from changing your gender?" More specifically, people questioned the media's critiques of Dolezal, especially after several weeks of praising recently out trans celebrity Caitlyn Jenner.

Before we jump into this race and gender conversation, here are a few definitions:

trans/transgender — "Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate. Gender identity is a person's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or someone outside of that gender binary). For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match." — glaad.org

cis/cisgender — "Term for someone who has a gender identity that aligns with what they were assigned at birth. The term was created for referring to 'non-transgender' people without alienating transgender people. For example, if the doctor announces a baby as being a girl, and she is fine with being a girl, then she is cisgender." — Gender Wiki

transracial — Since Rachel Dolezal's story went viral, "transracial" has been incorrectly used to describe people who identify with a race different from their own. In reality, transracial refers to children who are a different race than their adopted parents.

Ultimately, Rachel Dolezal's story is one of deception. For trans folks, coming out as trans is about truth.

As soon as the Caitlyn and Rachel comparisons began, I reached out to my friend Kat Blaque and begged her to make a video about the situation. Not only is Kat a popular YouTube vlogger, but she's also black, transgender, and a transracial adoptee, giving her a unique perspective that was lacking in the Caitlyn/Rachel conversation.


One major difference here is that trans folks face immense challenges when they come out. Simple tasks like getting identification and even using the restroom can be major obstacles because of a lack of understanding and education, along with a whole heap of bigotry. Transgender folks often face rejection from their friends and family upon coming out, leading to increased rates of suicide and depression within the community. And trans women, especially trans women of color, face greater risks when it comes to being victims of violence. According to GLAAD, in 2011, trans women were victims of 45% of all hate murders.

By comparison, Rachel Dolezal's misrepresentation led to her professional gain. Not only was she appointed the head of her local NAACP, she also taught classes, sold artwork, and was a paid speaker under the guise of being a black woman. She positioned herself as an authority on racism, oppression, and the black experience despite not having lived or experienced it herself. Dolezal's new identity also relied on fake parents, fake children, and, of course, darkening her skin and changing her hair to appear racially ambiguous.

Rachel Dolezal's behavior has not only hurt and confused many, it has put her voice above members of the community she so desperately sought to support. Given all that, it's easy to see why comparing Dolezal's behavior to the trans people who face so much adversity to be who they are isn't just hurtful, it's not even on the same playing field.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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