McMunagle, Alexa

Project title: An Exploration of Transracialism and Transableism — Legitimacy, Reactions and Implications

Department: Gender Studies

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Sikata Banerjee

"Through this research project, I hope to explore the emerging issues of “transracialism” and “transableism”. In 2015, transracialism made international headlines with the case of Rachel Dolezal, an American woman born to two Caucasian parents who now identifies as black. Reactions to her story were generally very negative, with many characterizing her and others like her as mentally ill and/or offensive. While transableism has received less media attention in comparison, the attention and reactions it has received were also overwhelmingly negative, with many accusing self-demand amputees of being equally as offensive and mentally ill as individuals claiming transracial identities. Through this research project, I would first and foremost like to explore the legitimacy of transraciality and transability by reviewing the current literature, examining the similarities and differences that exist between transracialism, transableism, and transgenderism, and, if possible, by interviewing individuals who identify as transracial or transabled. Secondly, I would like to examine why the public reacted in the way that it did towards publicized cases of self-identified transracial and transabled individuals. Lastly, I would like to explore what transraciality or transability can teach us about race, bodily integrity and identity."