The article seeks to address the way in which the term
‘trans’ has now been affiliated with different concepts to give different
meanings, which have an implicit effect on society thus raising political
awareness. Due to this, the way in which one can identify themselves has
evolved in relation to society progressing. 
Brubaker aims to indicate and assess the issues surrounding identity
with regard to individuals sex and race. The research problem addressed is
whether transracial and transgender can be treated as one entity.

 

Brubaker embarks on the meaning of ‘trans’ and whether
one can indeed change themselves and if so to what degree. He believes one
should treat the interweaved discussion of Jenner and Dolezal as an
intellectual opportunity, rather than a political provocation, as it is vital
in comprehending the micropolitics of identity. Brubaker does so by analysing
the efforts to credit/discredit the identities claimed by Jenner/Dolezal; he
shows why it has been easier to accept the possibility of changing gender than
changing race.

 

The article shows the contemporary micropolitics of
identity is structured by friction between the language of choice,
subjectivity, and self-fashioning on the one hand and on the other the language
of essence, objectivity, and biology. The structure of the literature is
simplistic to follow, as each section has a sub-heading and is logically organised
in a uniformed format. For example, in the division, ‘The enlargement of the
space for choice and self-fashioning’ (Brubaker, 2016, pp.419) it is outlined
what will be spoken about thus keeping the reader engaged and giving them
direction. This is then followed by an in-depth detail explanation with
relevant examples of these changes which he argues is a result of modernity,
such as choice now being a much large domain, encompassing sex and gender
whereas previously it was pivotal to abortion and women’s’ rights. This
explanation is then evidenced as well as followed by critique of how admittedly
society is modernising. However, there are still barriers such as that of
religion, although Brubaker concludes that it is becoming more socially
permissible, thus affirming ‘trans’ is more openly accepted.

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In the article, Brubaker indicates the conservative
party seeking to provoke the liberals as they demanded equal treatment in the
“if Jenner than Dolezal debate” (Brubaker, 2016, pp.423). They claimed that if
Jenner had the right to decide her gender, then Dolezal had the right to choose
her race – an argument likely composed to undermine transgender positions
rather than support transracial. Thus, there is no political position
underlying the article for it doesn’t take a particular stance but rather
assesses the reaction of the left and right party and how they were forthcoming
and accepting of transgender but not transracial. Conservatives would favour an
essentialist position on both matters, which one can note is a part of
Brubakers’ ‘space of position’ diagram whereby he explains that people fit into
four categories regarding their views. It provides clarity and support as it
seeks to explain why changing race and gender is different; however, it can be depicted
as ignorant of other people who may have a different opinion. 

 

The type of evidence used is case studies, with any
form of research in this manner, it is problematic as it consists of individual
differences and subjective interpretation. In relation to the Dolezal affair,
it can be perceived that there is a level of ethnocentrism, for this type of
case cannot be generalised to a broader population for there are not many such
cases. Furthermore, her desire to be of a different ethnicity may portray the
superiority of one ethnic background over another, which is a culturally
sensitive topic. When talking about supra-individual objectivity of race
(Brubaker, 2016, pp. 435) could draw in Green (2015) who supports Brubakers’
argument but also argues that if you hold on to a historically situated notion
of blackness, then this can encounter issues such as transphobia when defining
the two entities thus eluding to the reader having to be careful when drawing conclusions.

 Brubaker draws upon lots of research to
emphasise his points, which he summarises well. Thus the evidence substantiates
the argument to a great degree for it encapsulates the issue. He uses examples
throughout the literature which vary between primary and secondary data of
information, such as statistics, theories and scholarly writings which support
the validity of the argument.

 

The article is dominantly based on fact for the author
states an argument and uses supporting evidence to strengthen his position.

This basic structure of point, evidence, explanation and critique are prevalent
throughout most parts of the article. However, sometimes it seems to lack:
‘analogies between race and sex have been central to the development of
antidiscrimination law and practice,’ (Brubaker, 2016, pp. 416), here he states
a point, and goes on to evidence it, but not critique it. Brubaker draws upon
legislation in different countries to further strengthen his argument of
transgenderism being more easily defined; ‘New Zealand citizens… change gender
designation… through simple declaration and can select X… for unspecified’
(Brubaker, 2016, pp. 420). This further strengthens his argument that there is
a socially recognised and legally standardised procedure for changing one’s
gender, but not for changing one’s race. Brubaker, to critique this point could
draw upon Alipour (2015) who shows how some religious countries are still
stagnant in their opposition towards transgender and cannot tolerate them in
their country.

 

To conclude, in the article Brubaker shows how sex and
race, which have previously been comprehended as stable, innate, and
unambiguous, have recently widened their horizons —in various measures —to the
forces of change and choice. Brubaker provides a convincing argument in an area
which is primarily based on experience – as seen in the article through
predominant use of case studies – he offers an inquiry into systems of
classification that is characteristically insightful –’Two Forms of Boundary
Work’ (Brubaker, 2016, pp. 430). Brubaker merely evidences points of
‘transgenderism’ providing more clarity in society than ‘transracial.’ Albeit
his arguments for transracial do seem stronger for he draws upon historical
issues experienced by a race and the potential issues that a ‘transracial’
person could do to the originality, in particular, black people and the issue
of ‘blackface.’ Brubaker has prompted the audience to weigh the arguments put
forth and come to their judgment on how they individually make sense of gender
and race, self-categorisation and fluidity, nature and choice.

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