Former Spokane NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, whose white parents say she has been pretending to be black for years, says in a new interview that she related to Caitlyn Jenner’s struggles as a transgender woman.
“I cried. Because I resonated with some of the themes of isolation, of being misunderstood—to not know if you have a conversation with somebody, will that relationship then end because they have seen you as one way,” Dolezal told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in an interview that aired Wednesday, one day after she told Matt Lauer that she identifies as black. Jenner, who came out as a transgender woman in a televised Diane Sawyer interview in April, detailed her experiences in the cover story of Vanity Fair‘s July issue, though many critics say comparing Jenner’s experience to Dolezal’s irresponsibly suggests that transgender people are being deceptive with their gender identities.
In her conversation with Guthrie, Dolezal addressed some of the inconsistencies in previous statements about her racial identity and upbringing. Dolezal said claims that she had been to South Africa were “definitely a misrepresentation that I will own,” and she denied that she had been whipped as a child, though she did say she was physically abused. Her parents have denied all allegations of abuse.
Dolezal also explained why she says she identifies as black yet sued Howard University, a historically black college, in 2002 for discriminating against her because she was white. Was the lawsuit really saying she was white, Dolezal asked, “or is it saying I’m being treated as white? I’m being seen as white.”