'Rachel Who?' 

Dear Minerva,

With Rachel Dolezal back in the news for her appropriation of the black experience, I wanted to ask you, as an outspoken transgender individual, how you feel about the idea of someone being transracial—seeing as Rachel Dolezal has brought this "issue" to light, so to speak? Do you feel it makes a mockery of the transgender community? Will it be a setback for all the LGBT community and their allies have fought for?


—Bewildered in Boise

Dear BB,

The issues with Nkechi Amare Diallo (formerly Rachel Dolezal) are complicated. We are talking about a deeply troubled woman who has told us she was abused as a child by her home-schooling Christian missionary parents in a family that included four children adopted from Africa and Haiti, and raised in rural Montana. One word comes to mind: isolation. I don't think she is necessarily making a mockery of the trans experience because I don't think people are taking her seriously or linking the two. I don't think it will set back the LGBTQIA movement, either. Yes, cultural appropriation, blackface and artistic plagiarism are wrong and extremely distasteful. It isn't beyond me, however, to think that an abused and unstable person might make some questionable decisions. I don't give her a pass for her actions but I do think there is so much that we don't know about her mental health. She may need real help. It's a troubling, complicated story in our modern world. Truth is stranger than fiction, no?

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