British YouTuber and influencer Oli London recently underwent 18 surgeries to make them look similar to BTS pop star Jimin and now identifies as Korean.
In a video posted to Twitter, London said they are “so happy I can finally live my life how I want to live it”. Some have accused the influencer of being “racist” by claiming to be Korean.
London no longer identifies as British and has asked that media refer to them as Korean.
The YouTuber hopes the surgery will lead to them being accepted by Koreans because they will see that the influencer has “the look” and hopes that BTS member Jimin will be “proud” of them now that London has Jimin’s “Korean eyes” and “looks exactly like him”.
London also identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.
Since London posted their video on Saturday 26th June, it has gone viral online. On YouTube, the video has amassed over 8,000 dislikes compared to just 703 likes. One person on Twitter said “Isn’t this literally racist” while others were angry that London compared identifying as Korean to being transgender.
This is why I get ENORMOUSLY pissed off at trans issues being presented as a choice. To compare the shit I went through to this self-absorption is offensive.
— Charlie Don’t Surf (@sonniesedge) June 29, 2021
Who is Oli London?
Oli London is an influencer with over 320,000 followers on Instagram, 41,000 on Instagram, and just under 30,000 on YouTube.
They rose to prominence through the release of music on their YouTube channel and posts of their glamorous lifestyle and BTS fandom on Instagram.
What does transracial mean?
The word transracial has historically been used to describe those who adopt children from a different ethnic background to their own.
However in recent years after high-profile people used the term to describe themselves, transracial has become associated with those who identify with a different racial background.
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) June 26, 2021
A high-profile example is Rachel Dolezal. Dolezal was the leader of a branch of NAACP, a civil rights organization in the United States but in 2015, it was revealed that she was not Black, as she identified, but of European ancestry.
Dolezal, like others who identify as transracial, argues “I didn’t choose to feel this way or be this way, I just am”.
For many, the conflation of gender dysphoria and identifying as a different race is seen as offensive. Studies have shown genetic evidence that supports the existence of transgender people.
In one study, transgender women (who transitioned from male to female) were found more likely to have a longer receptor gene that reduced its ability to bind with testosterone.
Race, on the other hand, others argue isn’t “simply a matter of internal identification; it is also a matter of how your community and ancestors have been treated by other people, institutions, and governments”.
How has London responded to the criticism?
Oli London, despite heavy criticism, has continued to defend their actions. In a tweet on June 29th, they said:
TRANSRACIAL is a thing! I invented it! If you can be transgender you can be TRANSRACIAL. Live your life to the fullest, be who you want to be and spread love. 🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈⚧ #olilondon #trans #transracial
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) June 29, 2021
This isn’t the first controversy for YouTube stars over transgender issues. Trisha Paytas was accused in 2019 of exploiting the transgender community for views when she said in a video she identified more as a gay man.
Jake Paul’s Team 10 House that same year was accused of kicking two women out of the content creator house for being transgender.