look. it’s okay to appreciate another culture.
I have dozens and dozens of non-chinese friends who, for whatever reason, decided to learn mandarin chinese. (which is fantastic—multilingualism is wonderful.) and through learning mandarin, many of these friends learn about various aspects of chinese cultures, and they’re now totally in love with china and have a really deep appreciation for everything chinese.
and I am cool with that.
a lot of them would love to live in china. a lot of them wish they’d grown up in and with chinese culture.
they know that they’re always going to be laowai (foreigners, others), and that they can’t change that.
the thing about ~*transethnicity*~ though? well, there are multiple things about it:
(1) it essentializes and homogenizes races, ethnicities, and cultures. (link contains gifs)
(2) it trivializes the struggles that many peoples go through to claim their heritage. people are persecuted for their heritage. people die to claim their culture. these are ongoing struggles.
(3) it does not erase the presence of white privilege. I am aware that there may be transethnics that are not white. but many of them are white, and they still have white privilege. they will still go through society benefiting from the system that privileges them and rewards them for their existence. the system of racism does not oppress them as it does people of color. white people may scream all they want about how they’re really Black on the inside, but that won’t change their skin color, and they will still receive the benefits of white privilege.
(4) and furthermore, physical designation of race and ethnicity is all very much arbitrary and constructed. that is to say, people who are of a certain race or ethnicity have a vast spectrum of physical appearances. there are very light Black people, very dark Black people, and every shade in between. there are chinese people with straight hair; there are chinese people with wavy hair. there is no one way to look a certain race or ethnicity, and yet transethnics very often stereotype these physical appearances into one model that very frequently is the dominant fetishized model of a certain race/ethnicity (dainty Asian women, strong Black men, etc. etc. etc.)—and I don’t think that that’s a coincidence. it’s a form of incognito racism.
(5) transethnicity appropriates from the trans* community as well. violence and discrimination against trans* people, especially trans* people of color, are on the rise: trans* people are murdered for simply existing. trans* people struggle for access to basic human necessities such as healthcare and housing, and it is still very much legal in too many places to fire someone from their job for being trans*. and this discrimination, this oppression, is systematic and normalized. transethnics do not face this kind of oppression. maybe there’s some prejudice and discrimination on an individual level, but on a societal, institutional level? nope.
(6) marginalization based on race and marginalization based on gender are not the same. they are two struggles that often intersect, that may have similarities, but they are not parallel. my experience as a cis chinese-american does not in any way qualify me to talk about marginalization based on gender. being trans* does not qualify a white person to talk about racism. etc. etc. etc. being “transethnic” is not parallel to being transgender.
(7) there is also the question of transracial/transethnic adoption, which is a whole different set of struggles, and I don’t really know enough about it to say anything on that topic.
mostly, for me, the reason why transethnicity pisses me off the way it does boils down to this: people of color in a white-dominant society have essentially been forced into “transethnicity” for as long as the system of racial oppression has existed. that is, people of color who talk white, dress white, act white, think white, step all over their fellow people of color as an act of buying into white supremacy, are rewarded and allowed to advance in white-dominant racist societies.
we’ve been forced to assimilate. we’ve had our cultures and heritages stripped from us. we’re forcibly whitewashed. we struggle to reclaim our heritages and histories. these struggles are deep collective wounds that span generations, and we’re shown signs every day that these struggles are in no way ending.
and ~*transethnics*~ want me to respect their identity? while denying me the autonomy of defining my own damn heritage?
no. just no.
here’s some more eloquently worded anger. (contains gifs)
I’m gonna return to my regularly scheduled fandom blogging. I’ve spent far too much time on this topic.
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