Spoiler alert: it’s racist, it’s ridiculous, it’s going to make you cringe.
I know what you’re thinking- “please don’t let that be what I think it is.”
Well, Urban dictionary defines Trans-Ethnic as:
1. A person who feels that they should be from a different ethnicity, meant in a similar way to transexual.
Generally used by white people to exoticify and assume entitlement of a culture that is not theirs. Kinda racist.
“ I told this guy tonight that I identify as asian transethnic, and he was like “You can’t identify as asian if you’re white. I was like “Cry your cis* tears”. ”
(FYI, cis, short for cis-gendered, defines an individual who adheres to the traditional gender and sex boundaries.)
But yes, you read correctly. There are actual conscious human beings who think this is okay. Other than the fact that this is excruciatingly racist and simplifies cultures and ethnicities down to just hairstyles and slang terms; Trans-ethnicity also severely undermines the struggle that Trans-gendered men and women have faced.
Here seen in their natural habitat Tumblr, we see the average Trans-ethnic individual typically aged between 16-19. The predominantly Caucasian teens claim to feel connected to the fashion, slang and pop-culture of another race and use this label to distance themselves from the unpopular “average heterosexual white person” tag.
The anti-cis movement has been an online campaign discriminating against heteronormativity and white culture. As a result of this, young teens desperate to fit in are adopting any possible label that disconnects them from this “white cis” title. Teens in this category, thirsty for acceptance, have turned to trans-ethnicity in order to belong.
“These children might feel that the only way they’ll be included and accepted in social groups is by taking on the behaviour, attitudes and look of a group.” –Emma Little, educational and developmental psychologist.
Short answer, being a POC (person of colour) has somehow become a cool new trend for middle-class white kids.
Let me explain why that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
As a POC, the racial and social discrimination that I’ve faced from childhood has been a heavy and exhausting burden. The “white is beautiful” thought-movements projected by the beauty and entertainment industry which isolated and wounded me is something that weighs on me daily. Sometimes hourly. The skin bleaching and ghettos and abuse are very real and very present.
And now, being a POC is “cool”. Saying the N-word is cool. Wearing a burqa is fashion. These are cultures that have been built and fought over for thousands of years. These are cultures that we have been outcasted and isolated for. We’ve bled for them, and that is why they’re ours.
“I invite you to taste and experience and appreciate the beauty of these cultures, but you are not entitled to these cultures because you have not sacrificed for them like we have,” says an anonymous Black Power activist and blogger, “You sit there in your life of privilege behind that computer screen and say ‘I’m a trans-nigger’, like braiding your hair and twerking makes you black. Like you have any idea what being black really means.”
People of Colour aren’t the only group offended by this online-trend. The label also negatively impacts transgendered men and women.
As Mardi Gras approaches, excited talks of rallies and marches for trans-rights are all over facebook and twitter. Now, some members of the trans community are worried that their battle for equality is being undermined and humiliated by the transethnic title.
“It’s ridiculous… Essentially these trans ethnic people perpetuate the idea that trans is an identity with no real concrete basis, wishy washy and quiet possibly made up. When in fact transsexualism is a medical condition which requires medical treatment. Not some fun identity you can take on.” Says Dan Boga, a transsexual man.
So transethnicity undermines the struggles, battles, and discrimination faced by both People of Colour and transsexuals by turning it all into a fun game of pretend and roll play. I suppose congratulations are in order for managing to sabotage the comfort and image of not one, but two social minorities.
If the message wasn’t clear, let me reiterate. Stop. Transethnicity is damaging, racist and cruel. A culture is far more than the fashion and slang and music. A culture is history and sacrifice and commitment. It’s not a costume. It cannot be adopted, it cannot be adapted, it cannot be used as a tool to fit in on the internet. – Newsha Tari
Top Photo from Babi_Santander’s flickr photostream
Photo 1 from de-activated tumblr account.