This summer a former Olympic athlete convinced the world that a man can become a women. Bruce Jenner underwent surgeries that included breast implants and facial sculpting. He either has already, or is considering, amputating his penis. He was given the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
Soon after the National Post then featured an article on able-bodied people who want to be disabled, and like Jenner, want to make use of surgery to amputate parts of their body. And like Jenner, they describe themselves as feeling like imposters in their own bodies. One fellow, now known as One Hand Jason went so far as to cut off his right arm with a “very sharp power tool.” He has yet to receive any awards for the courage involved in his transformation.
In mid June the president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NCAAP) told her local news station that despite being born from two very white parents, she considers herself black. Rather than amputation, Rachel Dolezal needed only to make use of a change of hairdo and perhaps a tanning booth. She also has not received any awards for her transformation.
Dolezal also shared that she considers her adoptive black brother her son.
Can men become women, abled become disabled, white become black, and brothers become sons? The world is sure about the first, and confused about the last three, though they have no justifiable reason to be so. If amputation is understood as a legitimate option in Jenner’s case, on what basis can they object to it for One Hand Jason? And if what we are is defined by how we feel things should be – which is how the world is treating Jenner – then of course a white can be black and your brother can be your son.