By Jonathon Van Maren
Last year, British social media influencer Oli London announced that he was trans-racial and would be henceforth identifying as Korean in imitation of his idol, the singer and K-pop star Park Jimin. To achieve this, he underwent a series of thirty grotesque plastic surgeries to morph himself into Jimin’s doppelganger, spending over $270,000. These surgeries and his own deeply felt identity, he announced to the world, meant that he was a non-binary Korean (later a woman), not a white Englishman.
He announced his “transition” in language that will, by now, be familiar to everyone in a video titled “My TRANSition story” (emphasis his):
I identify as Korean. That’s my culture. That’s my home country. That’s exactly how I look now. I also identify as Jimin, and that’s my career name. I know it’s a bit confusing for people—nobody’s ever come out as Korean, but this is something that you guys know if you’ve followed my journey. For the last eight years I’ve really struggled with identity issues, with who I am… I’ve finally gone through my racial transition surgery.
For obvious reasons, the media didn’t quite know what to do with London. Sure, he’s obviously…not a Korean or a K-pop star. But we have been collectively assured for years now that it is what is on the inside, not the outside, that counts. Indeed, that is precisely how London responded to some of the mocking he promptly encountered online: “If you can be transsexual you can also be TRANSRACIAL. Why are there such double standards & hypocrisy with people criticizing me for being Korean. It’s the same with someone who was born in the wrong body and wants to become a man or a woman. I was actually born in the wrong body!”
Well checkmate, bigots.