Transgenderism, Transracialism, and Semitic Americans


Written by Joseph Dunsay. After earning a Masters of Science in Ecology and Evolution, Joseph Dunsay became a science writer for international audiences. Find more Jewrotica writing by Joseph here.

Rated PG-13

An academic paper that claimed transracialism is as valid as transgenderism inspired a tempest online. The condemnation was harsh enough to pressure the journal that published the article to post an apology on Facebook. Critics argued that the paper would not have passed peer review if transgender people and people of color had reviewed it. One detractor conceded that both race and gender are social constructs, but insisted that transracialism is impossible, because one cannot change one’s ancestry.

Opponents of transracialism might soften their tone if they considered the experience of Semitic Americans. In the past few centuries, Jews and other Americans with roots in the Middle East and North Africa have been white in some generations and nonwhite in other generations. Although many people see Ashkenazi Jews as European today, population genetics studies indicated that they have both MENA and European ancestors. One analysis of major trends in Jewish DNA found that Ashkenazi Jews were related to Italian, Turkish, and Arab populations.

Two USA Supreme Court cases from the 1980’s highlight how a group’s racial classification can change with time. The cases involved accusations that white Americans racially discriminated against Jews and an Arab-American. The Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs, because Congress saw the plaintiffs as Mongoloid in 1866 when it passed the relevant statue against racial discrimination, and the defendants also saw the plaintiffs as nonwhite. Hispanic Americans, most of whom where regarded as Caucasians in the 1980’s, cheered the ruling, as did Semitic Americans.

In one case, Saint Francis College v. Al-Khazraji, an American citizen born in Iraq sued Saint Francis College for denying him tenure based on his Arabian race. The Supreme Court decided that a racial discrimination lawsuit was appropriate, because Arabs where nonwhite in the 1860’s even though they were Caucasian when Al-Khazraji faced his discrimination. The court also held that racial discrimination can occur against anyone that is genetically part of a subgroup with its own ethnicity and/or physiology.

In the other case, Shaare-Tefila Congregation v. Cobb, a Jewish congregation sued a vandal based on racial discrimination, because the criminal perceived Jews as belonging to a separate race even though the congregation rejected this racial classification. A contemporary discussion of the case published by William and Marry Law School, mentioned how Arab, Jewish, and African-American organizations argued on behalf of Shaare-Tefila. One judge siding with Shaare-Tefila said that the perceptions held by a bigot are more important than the biological facts at hand.

Race is more of a social construct than a biological reality. While one cannot change one’s ancestry, Americans have a history of changing what race certain groups belong to. Jewish Americans were considered Mongoloid before they became Caucasian in the eyes of most Americans. Arab-Americans had a similar experience. Plenty of modern American Jews insist that Jews are members of a religion and not members of one race. Given the fluid racial classifications that MENA individuals experienced in America, transracialism is not as far fetched as it may seem.

After earning a Masters of Science in Ecology and Evolution, Joseph Dunsay became a science writer for international audiences. His LGBT erotic e-book launched in the summer of 2015.