Prior to last night’s gaffe at the Academy Awards, the biggest headline over the weekend came from an unlikely place—the Texas Girls Wrestling Championship. Controversy erupted after 17-year-old Mackenzie “Mack” Beggs won the state championship in the 110lb girl’s weight class. Beggs is a transgender boy (a girl who self-identifies as a boy) in the midst of transitioning genders. As part of the transition she has been taking testosterone supplements for over a year.
During the wrestling championship many parents were outraged, alleging that Beggs’ continued use of testosterone amounts to taking performance enhancing drugs and therefore constitutes as cheating. Begg’s grandmother countered by saying that state law requires Mackenzie to compete against girls.
In response, LGBT activists flocked to defend Beggs. Lou Weaver, a representative from Equality Texas, chafed at the Texas law which requires wrestlers to compete in divisions based on the sex listed on their birth certificate. Weaver argued that the law needs to be updated, “so that guys like Mack can wrestle with their peers, which would be on the boys’ team.”
And yet despite the media attention for Beggs and increased calls from the left in favor of expanding transgender rights, a related story from the weekend received barely any attention and was completely ignored by “trans” advocates.
Re-enter Rachel Dolezal, the white civil rights activist who claimed (and continues to claim) to actually be black.
To summarize, Dolezal, then a chapter president of the Spokane NCAA, was asked by a local reporter in June 2015 about her ethnicity. Seemingly stunned, Dolezal couldn’t answer the question and walked away. Pictures soon surfaced of a light-skinned, blonde-haired woman that (surprise!) was Dolezal from a few years earlier. Dolezal’s family confirmed that, in fact, Rachel is white.
During the media controversy that ensued, Dolezal doubled-down, insisting that she was black despite genealogists confirming that Dolezal is from German and Czech ancestry. Following these revelations, she was fired, and has remained unemployed.
Dolezal is back in the news following an interview this weekend with the Guardian, where the former civil rights activist revealed that she is currently living on food stamps and expects to be homeless soon. Dolezal explained that despite changing her legal name, she cannot find work, and that her only job offers have come from reality TV and the porn industry.
In a society where the narrative of fluid, non-binary gender identity is increasingly tolerated, Dolezal’s story actually offers an important challenge. Dolezal herself believes that the logic of the transgender movement should apply to her as well.
Commenting on race and gender, Dolezal said, “It’s very similar, in so far as: this is a category I’m born into, but this is really how I feel.” When asked if racial identity is in the same class as gender identity Dolezal responded, “It’s more so. Because it wasn’t even biological to begin with. It was always a social construct. I feel that I was born with the essential essence of who I am, whether it matched my anatomy and complexion or not… I’ve never questioned being a girl or woman, for example, but whiteness has always felt foreign to me, for as long as I can remember. I didn’t choose to feel this way or be this way, I just am. What other choice is there than to be exactly who we are?”
Despite arguments from transgender activists to the contrary, Rachel Dolezal’s transracial claims embody the exact same logic as the transgender movement. The “I identify as….” format is identical. In the brave new world of self-identification where the reigning ethic is that you can invent at will who you are, Dolezal’s identification as a black woman represents the logical extension of the left’s arguments. In a society where Bruce Jenner can wear dresses and identify as “Caitlyn,” it actually seems narrow-minded to deny Rachel’s identification as a black woman. What’s the difference?
Fundamentally, there are anthropological, biological, and sociological realities that we can’t escape: You can’t choose your race. You can’t choose your age. You can’t choose your gender. To claim otherwise is a denial of reality. Most people understand this.
However, for those on the left that insist Mackenzie Beggs should be allowed to wrestle with the boys due to her gender identity, it is absolute hypocrisy to turn around and mock Rachel Dolezal’s transracial identification as black. The subjective claims of both white women rest on the same logic!
It is telling that Dolezal has been abandoned by trans activists. Rather than viewing her as a martyr for the cause and enlisting her as a spokesperson, Rachel is now seen as a pariah by LGBT supporters. They view her claims as nonsensical and a threat to their own progress. For the majority of Americans, neither claim makes sense: men cannot be women and whites cannot become black; gender and race are intrinsic characteristics, not subjective self-identifications. However, this ongoing discussion reveals an essential truth about the human condition.
Both women—Beggs and Dolezal—are actually being remarkably honest by recognizing that something has gone terribly wrong in the world (and in them). Human sexuality and race are deeply personal. That’s why strong emotions are evoked whenever these issues are discussed. In a world marred by sin, it shouldn’t be surprising that some people feel disconnected from their gender and/or race. Too often conservatives and many Christians are quick to judge and cast aspersions toward people like Mackenzie and Rachel.
We need to remember that these women are hurting, broken, and deeply confused. Obviously, conservative public policy advocates ought to stand up for sanity and truth when issues of race and gender are considered. It is important to affirm the objective reality that race and gender are immutable. However, I also suggest we recognize that veiled behind the vitriol from those on the other “side,” there are real people like Rachel, on the brink of poverty and despair, who need love, acceptance and hope.
Russell Moore represents a noble Christian response: “We Christians believe that all of us are sinners, and that none of us are freaks. We conclude that all of us are called to repentance, and part of what repentance means is to receive the gender [or race] with which God created us, even when that’s difficult. We must affirm that God loves all persons, and that the gospel is good news for repentant prodigal sons and daughters, including for those who have trouble figuring out which is which.”