The way in which people compare how Rachel Dolezal identified as black and then was revealed to be of European descent to how transgender women are “really” men pretending to be women reveals the enormous bigotry that many cisgender people have against trans people, more than anything else about race or gender. Some people are willing to make any negative comparison – no matter how far-fetched – to discredit and shame us trans women.
The fundamental difference between Dolezal’s actions and trans people’s is that her decision to identify as black was an active choice, whereas transgender people’s decision to transition is almost always involuntary. Transitioning is the product of a fundamental aspect of our humanity – gender – being foisted upon us over and over again from the time of our birth in a manner inconsistent with our own experience of our genders. Doctors don’t announce our race or color when we are born; they announce our gender. People who are alienated from their presumed gender and define themselves according to another gender have existed since earliest recorded history; race is a medieval European invention. Thus, Dolezal identified as black, but I am a woman, and other trans people are the gender they feel themselves to be.