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You can change gender at will, but scholars say ‘simply impossible’ to change your race

In 2023 it is widely accepted that an individual can change his/her gender merely because they feel it — but whatever you do, do not attempt to change your race.

Remember the remarkable USA Today fact check” regarding Ketanji Brown Jackson’s answer to “What is a woman?” during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings?

Like so many other attempts at an “explanation,” the national daily had to twist itself into a pretzel to demonstrate how gender and sexuality are malleable.

But an assortment of academics recently told NBC News.com it is “simply impossible” to do this with racial identity. They offered their “expertise” in reaction to a current online phenomenon dubbed “RCTA,” or “race change to another.”

Jamie Cohen, who “specializes in memes and digital culture” at Queens College, said those involved with RCTA are just engaging in a “belief.”

“[RCTA] doesn’t ever really work, because it’s not doing anything, but they have convinced themselves that it works because there’s other people who have convinced themselves, as well,” Cohen said.

Profile Photo of David FreundThe University of Maryland’s David Freund (pictured), whose studies “focus on whites’ changing assumptions about racial identity,” said that while race is not genetic but a “cultural construct,” it still is impossible to alter your race due to “systemic inequalities inherent to being born into a certain race.”

“[T]he modern concept of race is inseparable from the systemic racial hierarchy hundreds of years in the making,” Freund said according to the report. “Simply put, changing races is not possible, because ‘biological races’ themselves are not real.”

Freund added that white people wishing to “transition” their race “often sidestep the harms of racism.”

Kevin Nadal, an activist, comedian and expert on microaggressions who teaches at City University of New York, agreed saying “There is a privilege in being able to change your race or to say that you’re changing your race.”

Blacks, he added, would be “unable to say all of a sudden ‘I’m white’ and be treated with the same privileges that white people have.”

MORE: ‘Trans-racial’ former adjunct Rachel Dolezal details her race ‘journey’ in new memoir

MORE: Rachel Dolezal ‘doesn’t believe in race,’ still identifies as black

IMAGES: northallertonman/Shutterstock.com; U. Maryland

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.