by Susan Dutca
In a progressive society where it is becoming increasingly common to live out the way you feel rather than based on your biological, genetic composition, there has been an increase in the cases of trans-identities that are not only related to gender. As in Bruce Jenner’s transformation to Caitlin Jenner, those who wish to better suit their desired identity have pursued physical alterations. A little left of the spotlight, the case of civil rights activist and teacher Rachel Dolezal’s physical, transracial transformation went unnoticed until her parents revealed that their daughter is of European descent. As Dolezal daringly redefines ethnic identity, she is bringing momentum to issues of transracial identities. This raises question as to which identity should be used when it comes to grey areas in the world of education- where there are educational awards, scholarships, and incentives specifically for born-African Americans.
Dolezal feared, on multiple occasions, people would “blow her cover.” How secure then, is Dolezal in her identity of a black female? With a quick hair change to long, blonde dreadlocks and blackface- a process in darkening the skin to make it appear blacker, Dolezal metamorphosed into a convincing African American woman. Dolezal insists she has identified as African American since she was five years old. If Dolezal had applied to Howard University as a Caucasian female, would she have been accepted as easily? According to her father, most likely not. Dolezal’s father asserts, "You've got a white woman coming in that got a full-ride scholarship to the black Harvard.” It seems in this case, a student can earn scholarships of choice by simply reassigning their demographics.
In your opinion, how should colleges approach issues of transracial identities when it comes to admissions and scholarships? Should traditional, race-based scholarships be exclusive to one's biological race?
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Posted Under:Financial Aid , Scholarship Applications
Tags:African American scholarships , Applications , Education , Federal Aid , Financial Aid , Minority Scholarships
Whether it’s Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer outlining his journey from the world’s greatest athlete, to a surgery which induced womanhood, or actress Laverne Cox breaking the trans glass ceiling in the Netflix’s hit series, Orange Is the New Black, where a trans woman is actually played by a trans woman, the transgender community continues to break the boundaries of social acceptance. The transgender push for equality has now shattered the Higher Education glass ceiling. According to the Washington Post, starting next fall, University of California applicants will be the first wave of students given the option to signal their sexual orientation and any number of gender identities on their application.
This change is one of several new accommodations the university has made in effort to make the campus as inclusive as possible. “I think it introduces the kind of welcoming environment we want to have just by introducing the question on the first thing students will see, which is the application they’re filling out. We think it’s very important,” said Pamela Brown, vice president for institutional research and academic planning, who serves on the system-wide-advisory council on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.
UC undergraduate program applicants will now have the option to answer the following questions:
How do you describe yourself?(Mark one answer)
What sex were you assigned at birth, such as on an original birth certificate?
Do you consider yourself to be (Mark one answer):
The university hopes to one day implement these options in graduate study and employment applications. The information will enable them to track such students in order to monitor graduation rates and determine if the support available is sufficient.
President Janet Napolitano, who pushed for these changes with the creation of a task force last summer said “it doesn’t stop [here] – we must continue to look at where we can improve so everyone at UC feels respected and supported.”
University officials note that an applicant’s answer to any of the questions holds no bearing on chances for admission.