Crossing Racialized Lines: Mapping Academics’ Responses To So-Called “Transracialism"




McMunagle, Alexa

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In 2017, a young academic by the name of Rebecca Tuvel published an article entitled “In Defense of Transracialism” in which she argued that “considerations that support transgenderism seem to apply equally to transracialism” (p. 263). Following the article’s publication in Hypatia, a feminist philosophy journal, a wide-scale academic controversy ensued, eliciting diverse responses. This study aims to map this complex and intriguing controversy by asking: What are the primary topics of discussion that arose within academia in response to Rebecca Tuvel’s article “In Defence of Transracialism”? By addressing this question, this study seeks to provide a comprehensive review of the literature in order to better understand this academic controversy, as well as so-called “transracialism” more broadly, given the central role the “Tuvel Affair” plays in the academic conversation on the topic. Upon reviewing both academic and non-academic works, such as academic articles, news articles published in education-related magazines, an open letter that was directly addressed to Hypatia, and a podcast episode in which a scholar is interviewed, I identified the following seven themes: problems with Tuvel’s methodology, “transracialism” within academic philosophy, the social context of “transracialism”, problems with analogizing “race” and sex-gender, the impact and implications of “transracialism” for anti-racism, white privilege, and, lastly, arguments supportive of Tuvel and/or “transracialism”. Through the exploration of these aforementioned themes, this research effectively captures the major threads of the debate that arose in response to Tuvel’s article, and, ultimately, illuminates the important nuances that exist between gender and racial (re-)identification processes.



Tuvel, transracialism, Dolezal, Hypatia controversy, racial re-identification