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How Our Words Affect Our Thoughts on Race and Gender

Can a person who is biologically male really be female? What about someone who is born white but doesn’t feel that way—can she become black? Intelligent adults can disagree passionately on these questions of identity, as evident in the back-and-forth discussion over the recent cases of Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman, and Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who identified as African American.

Rachel Dolezal projected a different racial identity as an adult (left) than as a child (right).

If social categories like gender and race stir up so much controversy among adults, think how confusing they must be for children to sort out. As it turns out, how children form social categories

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