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On Wednesday, Caitlyn Jenner received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs, seizing the opportunity to deliver an impassioned, inspiring speech about the importance of trans acceptance.

Jenner has done a consistently admirable job using her celebrity to draw more attention the plight of underprivileged trans people. Her ESPYs speech was no exception, as Jenner detailed the tragic suicide of several trans teenagers. But perhaps the most affecting moment arrived when she spoke of the love and support she received from her family, who looked on in the audience. Explaining how lucky sheis, Jenner quickly put the spotlight on the broader trans community. “It’s not just about me,” she explained:

(Emphasis mine.)

It’s safe to say that Rachel Dolezal never thought much about the endgame. You can see it on her face in the local-TV news video—the one so potently viral it transformed her from regional curiosity to global punch line in the span of 48 hours in mid-June. It is precisely the look of a white woman who tanned for a darker hue, who showcased a constant rotation of elaborately designed African American hairstyles, and who otherwise lived her life as a black woman, being asked if she is indeed African American.

It is the look of a cover blown.

There have been women over the years who’ve spent thousands upon thousands of dollars for butt injections, lip fillers, and self-tanners for a more “exotic” look. But attempting to pass for black? This was a new type of white woman: bold and brazen enough to claim ownership over a painful and complicated history she wasn’t born into.

After her estranged parents set her downfall into motion by telling a local newspaper, in no uncertain terms, that their 37-year-old daughter had been born Caucasian, Dolezal was relieved of her paid and unpaid positions in Spokane. She resigned from her position with the N.A.A.C.P. (though odds are she would have been ousted if she hadn’t)

As she figures out where she’ll land next, Dolezal says she is surviving on one of the skills she perfected as she attempted to build a black identity. At Eastern Washington University, she lectured on the politics and history of black hair, and she says she developed a passion for taking care of and styling black hair while in college in Mississippi. That passion is now what brings in income in the home she shares with Franklin. She says she has appointments for braids and weaves about three times a week.


Rachel Dolezal still identifies as a black woman despite, you know, being white.

In a new interview with Vanity Fair (can you believe this lady made it into Vanity Fair?), she says that while she knows she isn’t biologically African-American, her assumed blackness isn’t anything she can stop.

(Emphasis mine.)

I’m just sayin’

Previously: 200 Blog Posts – Everything You Need to Know (To Start): Essential human categories: race and sex (and the Bruce Jenner/Rachel Dolezal controversies)

(Republished from JayMan's Blog by permission of author or representative)
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  1. jjbees says:

    It’s okay to ruin peoples lives when they are the out group!

    Rachel Dolezal finding out that whites are the new niggers.

    (excuse me for the swear, but it seems appropriate).

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    I can’t believe you’re trying to bring logical consistency to this debate – how dare you!

  3. Staffan says: • Website

    I have a problem with the idea of Jenner (or Dolezal) as mentally ill. Yes, he is a man and saying he is a woman won’t make it so – even if half the world is cheering you on. But where does leave us? The concept of mental illness is deceptively convenient but very problematic. As Szasz pointed out, the only reasonable criterium would be organic failure. But with a few exceptions, like lead poisoning and dementia, researchers have a hard time finding anything.

    This means relying on other, more dubious criteria, like dysfunction. As noted in the DSM, this means that mental illness (or disorders) are dependent on cultural context, meaning if Jenner is cheered on there is nothing wrong with her, but if you’re booed, like Dolezal, there is. We vote (as was done with homosexuality).

    If these two aren’t delibaretely deceptive (hard to rule out) then I would suggest their identities are simply delusional fantasies that are ultimately of the same type that most people engage in. Positivism bias represent a range of such delusions regarding health, safety etc, that, had they been rare would have been classified as mental illness.

    In conclusion, Jenner is a man; Dolezal is white. None of them have mental illness but are being either deceptive or fanciful.

  4. JayMan says: • Website


    Darwinian criteria seem to work. Was the phenotype in question adaptive or maladaptive in past environments? I think in both cases, this level of delusion clearly was decidedly maladaptive – which the rarity of each speaks to.

  5. I feel rather sorry for Dolezal. Delusional or not, she was, for the most part, going about her business trying to do things that she thought would help other people.

    I know nothing about who Jenner is on the inside, but there is nothing brave about doing weird shit when you’re a celebrity and you’ve got the whole world behind you. The vast majority of trans people aren’t rich and famous; many of them are homeless and struggle just to get jobs because most people think they’re weirdos. Delusional or not, those people are very brave.

    If you want to get technical, I do believe that most trans people (at least all of the ones I’ve met) have some real medical issue going on, like AIS or Klinefelter or prenatal DES exposure. They’ve otherwise seemed pretty mentally together, so I give them the benefit of the doubt.

    For consistency’s sake, I give Dolezal the same benefit.

  6. Staffan says: • Website

    “Darwinian criteria seem to work.”

    Yes, but only if we think of it as a distinct trait rather than the extreme end of some openness/fantasy trait or combination of traits. A very tall person need not have any medical condition but the phenotype is still maladaptive.

    • Replies: @JayMan
  7. JayMan says: • Website

    Is transsexualism or transracialism anywhere near normally distributed in the population? Not all human phenotypes exist on a continuum, which is indeed a distinct clue.

  8. ic1000 says:

    James Thompson’s comments on Ms. Dolzeal helped me to view her with more compassion.

    [Dolzeal’s] parents had adopted 4 black children, so she must have concluded that either her parents were very kind people in the public and general sense of that word, or very unkind parents in a very personal sense, and apparently she eventually came to the latter conclusion, and they are estranged. Her parents, Christian missionaries, certainly kept making a point. A purely psychological interpretation… is that she became convinced that her parents loved black children four times more than her, and thus wanted to become black to regain their love. A less convoluted interpretation is that after a racially perplexing childhood which favoured Black Americans she just exploited a particular set of historic circumstances in the US in which her assertion that she was black was accepted “at face value”… Her parents, who shopped her to the Press for her deceit, might have have done well to have kept quiet, and to have thought more carefully about their own contribution to her confused reactions. ([An alternative] genetic explanation is that she is the biological daughter of missionaries, and is imbued with missionary zeal, and as she ages she is becoming more and more like them in rescuing fallen Africans and battling for social justice).

    Caitlin ne Bruce Jenner appears to have lived since adolescence as an autogynephiliac, per sex researcher Michael Bailey. While a very heavy burden, Jenner appears to have found a way to use this condition to satisfy a powerful non-sexual urge of his/hers, namely a craving for fame and fortune.

    I don’t generally think of a wealthy celebrity as brave or admirable for acting out their compulsions on a public stage. In a saner world, the terrible consequences of Jenner’s careless driving would count for more than the spectacle of his-then-her sex life.

    • Replies: @JayMan
    , @ic1000
  9. JayMan says: • Website


    The Dolezal bit sounds like armchair psychoanalysis to me.

  10. e says:

    “([An alternative] genetic explanation is that she is the biological daughter of missionaries, and is imbued with missionary zeal, and as she ages she is becoming more and more like them in rescuing fallen Africans and battling for social justice).”


  11. @Staffan

    Don’t transgenders have a pattern of severe mental illness outside of their gender confusion? Don’t something like half of them attempt suicide (which is true of Jenner himself)? Doesn’t transgenderism have a large comorbidity with body dysmorphic disorder, and a larger than expected comorbidity with schizophrenia?

    I think that says it all right there.

  12. Shooter says:

    All the while, Jenner gets away with murdering a woman.

    That doesn’t count because ‘she’ is for transgender acceptance.

  13. ic1000 says:

    @ JayMan re: armchair psychoanalysis —

    Well, yeah. At least armchair psychologizing, anyway. Thompson is a psychologist,which might be considered a mitigating factor 😉

    In the linked post you wrote, “But, this should make clear the foolhardiness of trying to identify causal factors – especially those from life experience – that are responsible for any given individual’s behavior.” But the ~100% hereditarian/~0% environmental stance has its own set of shortcomings, as per discussions at this and other blogs.

    Dolzeal set her life in an unusual direction. And this was a very risky path, as she has discovered. From what I’ve read, she has little insight into the reasons. Maybe nobody can have anything to add, ‘cuz it’s all pre-ordained in the stars genes. But notwithstanding that possibility, it’s human to ask “Why?” Thompson’s speculations are plausible, I think.

  14. Amanda says:

    @Lion of the Judah-sphere

    Yes, transgender people have a higher incidence of many mental illnesses than non-transgender people. For anyone who is curious, I compiled some of the scientific literature on this topic. All emphasized portions below were emphasized by me. I hope I didn’t screw up the blockquotes or the bolding.

    “High prevalences of depression have been reported in male-to-female (MTF) transgender communities. We explored factors associated with depressive symptomatology among MTF spectrum trans people in Ontario, using data from the Trans PULSE Project Phase II respondent-driven sampling survey (n = 433 participants, including 191 MTFs with data needed for this analysis). We estimated the prevalence of depression at 61.2%.

    More than half of Latina and White participants were depressed on
    the basis of Center For Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale scores. About
    three quarters of White participants reported ever having suicidal ideation, of
    whom 64% reported suicide attempts.
    Half of the participants reported being
    physically assaulted, and 38% reported being raped or sexually assaulted before
    age 18 years.

    “To determine the independent predictors of attempted suicide among transgender persons we interviewed 392 male-to-female (MTF) and 123 female-to-male (FTM) individuals. Participants were recruited through targeted sampling, respondent-driven sampling, and agency referrals in San Francisco. The prevalence of attempted suicide was 32% (95% CI = 28% to 36%).”

    Of the sample, 35% reported significant depressive symptoms (PHQ-9 ≥ 15). Additionally, one-third of the participants indicated that in the two weeks prior to the interviews they had thought either of hurting themselves or that they would be better off dead.

    Transgender women in the United States are nearly 6 times more likely than the general population to experience significant depressive symptoms.

    One hundred eighty-six psychiatrists responded to the survey. These respondents reported on 584 patients with cross-gender identification. In 225 patients (39%), gender identity disorder was regarded as the primary diagnosis. For the remaining 359 patients (61%), cross-gender identification was comorbid with other psychiatric disorders. In 270 (75%) of these 359 patients, cross-gender identification was interpreted as an epiphenomenon of other psychiatric illnesses, notably personality, mood, dissociative, and psychotic disorders.

    A cross-sectional sample of 31 patients who were treated for GID was assessed by the structured clinical interview for Axis I and II (SCID-I/II) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Twenty-nine percent of the patients had no current or lifetime Axis I disorder; 39% fulfilled the criteria for current and 71% for current and/or lifetime Axis I diagnosis. Forty-two percent of the patients were diagnosed with one or more personality disorders.

    Gender identity disorder (GID), recently renamed gender dysphoria (GD), is a rare condition characterized by an incongruity between gender identity and biological sex. Clinical evidence suggests that schizophrenia occurs in patients with GID at rates higher than in the general population and that patients with GID may have schizophrenia-like personality traits. Conversely, patients with schizophrenia may experience alterations in gender identity and gender role perception. Neurobiological research, including brain imaging and studies of finger length ratio and handedness, suggests that both these disorders are associated with altered cerebral sexual dimorphism and changes in cerebral lateralization. Various mechanisms, such as Toxoplasma infection, reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), early childhood adversity, and links with autism spectrum disorders, may account for some of this overlap.

    • Replies: @JayMan
  15. Big Bill says:

    The wife or our youth pastor was a missionary kid from Africa. She spent a great deal of time in the US boarding with her grandparents because her parents were living and working in some godforsaken, fly-lown, disease-ridden African village.

    She didn’t pretend to be black, and indeed married white. However, she did lean on her youth pastor husband to adopt an Ethiopian baby before they tried to have any of their own. And, yes, she did get a little holier than thou in a short speech she made to the congregation at a going away pot luck dinner in the church basement just before they moved to St. Louis so he could study for his Doctor of Divinity.

    At first I felt sorry for them, assuming they adopted because they couldn’t have a baby. But when I found out they really COULD have had a baby on their own and she chose NOT to, it was clear she had unresolved daddy and mommy issues.

    In contrast to this, Rachel solved her mommy and daddy issues by marrying black and “rolling her own”, so to speak.

    I do feel sorry for the husband though. Nice white boy. Earnest. God-fearing. But who in their right mind would marry a woman who wanted to get knocked-up by Africa (so to speak) before she was knocked-up by her husband.

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