The basis of the argument is the identity of an individual. In trying to define an individual, there are basically two categories into which the definition may arise: gender and sex a, race and ethnicity. The author argues that these are just constructs of the society which are basically discriminatory, racist, sexist etc. and as such, prevent anyone from truly accepting his/her identity. ‘We construct ethical identities-woman, man, African-American, “white”-in ways that depend crucially on false beliefs about metaphysical identities; something like each of them could be reconstructed out of other materials. But if we were to live in a society that did not institutionalize those false metaphysical beliefs, it is unclear that the project of reconstruction would be an attractive one’ (Appiah, 2). As a matter of fact, the author suggests that there is a possibility that the identities founded on sexual orientation are likely to be scrubbed off the face of the earth in due time but it will take some effort to do away with ethnic identities, especially in the African-American population.
On one aspect, the argument tries to describe the self-identity that may arise when the gender of an individual is altered, either through transsexual change or through a change in gender of a child may be due to unforeseen circumstances, such as an accident. In changing the gender, does the intrinsic values associated with any individual change? If, for instance, a boy child is accidentally circumcised the whole penis, does the character that was to be associated with him during adulthood change? The answer is probably no because the intrinsic characteristics do not change. It is here that gender therapy comes into play, basically to try and bend the characteristics of the potential male into a female. However, some people opt to go for transsex because of their ‘misfit’ in the previous gender. Altering the sex still does not change the intrinsic characteristics. On the aspect of ethnicity and race, it is important to consider that people belong to a certain race because of their feeling of belonging. However, if the external characteristics, say, of an African-American are altered through, for example, bleaching, the intrinsic characteristics would still define him/her and therefore it is discriminatory and wrong in trying to use his/her race in the identification process.
On the argument that involves race and sex, the author tries to show the importance of social ignorance in trying to resolve internal conflicts mainly associated with the identity. If the gender of an individual is altered, the identity still remains. Also, if the metaphysical characteristics associated with an individual are altered, his/her identity still remains the same. The society plays a major role in trying to enclose people with certain identities that are basically founded on sex and race. However, there is a difference between sex and race in trying to establish the identity of any individual whereby sex has a biological classification while race has no biological classification. However, both play a crucial role in trying to establish the life plans of individuals but do not define the identity.
Appiah, Anthony . “”But Would That Still Be Me?” Notes on Gender, “Race,” Ethnicity, as Sources of “Identity”.” Journal of philosophy 87.10 (1990).