In April 2015 Caitlyn Jenner revealed her true identity to the world. While her body, her cells, her DNA said one gender, her mind was screaming another; she was female, and needed to live as such in order to be her “authentic self”.
Of course, there were – and are – those that decried Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn Jenner as “unnatural”, that – as Barry Humphries so delicately put it – she was nothing more than “a mutilated man”. But for the most part, we accepted the former Olympic decathlete’s right to undertake that transition as a transgender woman. Pronouns were replaced, awards given, endorsement deals signed, magazine covers graced.
But around the same time, a white American woman named Rachel Dolezal claimed to be black. Her body, her cells, her ancestry said one race but, in her mind at least, she was African American.
The reaction to her revelation was anything but congratulatory.
It's the distinction between the response to these women that a US philosopher named Rebecca Tuvel pointed out recently in an hugely controversial article for feminist-philosophy journal, Hypatia.
Titled 'In Defense of Transracialism', the April piece led to a ferocious backlash that ultimately saw it scrapped by the publishers and debated by media around the world.
But what exactly is transracialism, and why is everyone so fired up about it?