Dear white people: Why are you like this?
A white transgender woman from New Orleans has come out to a Tampa Bay TV station to claim that she is “transracial.” Ja Du says she now considers herself to be a Filipino.
Ahhh, right, because that’s what 2017 needed: more shades of white nonsense.
And why is Ja Du a Pinay now?
As she told WTSP-TV, she just really loves Filipino culture.
“Whenever I’m around [Filipino] music, around the food, I feel like I’m in my own skin,” Ja Du said. “I’d watch the History Channel sometimes for hours, you know, whenever it came to that, and, you know, nothing else intrigued me more but things about Filipino culture.”
OK, first of all, honey, Filipino is not a race; it’s an ethnicity or nationality. Let’s start there. Second, how in the world does being a fan of History Channel programming give you entry into claiming someone’s identity? Girl, what kind of caucasity are you bathing in that allows you to think that?
But Ja Du isn’t the only one who needs to be cussed out here.
I know someone’s tita or lola out there was encouraging this behavior, and in the name of the Santo Niño, I rebuke them. Filipinos are among the most welcoming people on earth: We love it when you come to our parties, we love it when you try our food—especially the gross kinds. In fact, I’m pretty sure Ja Du felt pretty gassed when she tried balut (fertilized duck egg) at the Filipino function and was told by someone that she was an “honorary Pilipino.”
Ja Du, my dear, speaking from personal experience, that’s a party trick. We make all the white people try balut. You know where you can find me, though? By the gotdamn lechon.
Dr. Stacy Scheckner can also catch these hands. WTSP spoke to this licensed psychologist about being “transracial.” Scheckner said that she had no transracial clients but had worked with people who wanted to change their bodies and that that was basically like the same thing.
“If someone feels that they feel at home with a certain religion, a certain race, a certain culture, I think that if that’s who they really feel inside, life is about finding out who you are. The more knowledge you have of yourself, the happier you can be,” said the Beckiest doctor on earth.
“And, as long as it’s not hurting yourself or anyone else, I don’t see a problem with that,” she added.
That👏🏼 is 👏🏼 not 👏🏼 how 👏🏼 this 👏🏼 works. Why are we treating religion, race and gender as though they operate in the same ways? How does a licensed professional even fix her mouth to say something like that?
The differences between transgender and transracial have been unpacked numerous times, most recently when Rachel Dolezal compared herself to Caitlyn Jenner. As Salon noted in a 2015 article, there is a growing body of evidence that trans identity is rooted in biological differences. Recent research has shown that the brains of trans people While people have choices in how they express their gender identity, what their gender identity is is involuntary.
Meanwhile, Ja Du wants to be Filipina because she fucks with the music and the adobo.
Listen, you can (and maybe should) embrace cultures that aren’t your own. And having lived overseas, I’ve witnessed many a person who found a new, arguably more authentic home in another culture and place.
When I lived in Vietnam, I saw white men marry Vietnamese women and have Vietnamese children and decide that they related so much more to Vietnamese culture that they applied for Vietnamese citizenship. I have even heard some of these men (and some women) say they “feel” more Vietnamese than American or British or Australian.
The last part was always puzzling to me, but fine. They were talking about a place as much as a culture, and I’ve never known any of them to try to pass themselves off as ethnically Vietnamese. Being expats, they understood their privilege and the power imbalance between being a native Vietnamese and being from a Western country.
But filing for citizenship or claiming kinship is altogether different from taking on an ethnic identity: The latter is theft.
Ja Du doesn’t see it this way.
“If that’s who they are and they want to celebrate it and enjoy it, then you have to think, ‘What harm is it doing?’ All they want to do is throw themselves into that culture and celebrate it,” Ja Du told the TV station.
“I think before we get offended, we need to take a step back and think about what is the harm,” she continued.
Thankfully, Ja Du hasn’t gone the way of other “transracial” assholes and physically altered her features to appear more Filipino, but the concept remains the same. Adopting Filipino identity would theoretically make Ja Du a trans woman of color—a group who disproportionately faces stigmatization and violence—yet Ja Du can opt out of that identity in ways those women of color cannot.
There may be no harm to me personally, Ja Du—I’ll still be Filipino AF no matter what you do. But thinking that you need to become a person of color just to celebrate a person of color is just about the whitest thing you can do.
Editor’s note: Some readers have noted that WTSP-TV’s report refers to Ja Du as a man. We confirmed with reporter Garin Flowers that Ja Du is a trans woman and has been undergoing hormone therapy, though Flowers said Ja Du had no preference for what pronoun was used to describe her. While other some outlets refer to Ja Du as a man, The Root refers to her as a woman.
We’ve also edited the article to highlight the distinctions between transgender identity and supposed “transracial” identity, and to reflect that Ja Du currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, not Florida.