This article is taken from the August/September 2021 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issue for just £10.
You may have heard of Korea, a country in the orient made famous by the sitcom M*A*S*H. I was there briefly during my gap year, and it brought tears to my eyes to see how progressive it was. Virtually everyone I met was a person of colour.
So I was deeply moved to read about the Instagram influencer Oli London who — in addition to coming out as nonbinary with “they/them” pronouns — has also come out as Korean. This has resulted in accusations of cultural appropriation, but that would only make sense if Oli had remained white.
Besides, Oli has spent over £100,000 on surgery to change the shape of their eyes. Only the most virulent of racists would deny that to be authentically Korean simply requires that one is continually squinting.
In fact, so inspired have I been by Oli’s commitment to their new identity that I am considering transitioning to Chinese by wearing a pointy hat and getting my feet bound.
I have been saddened that some transphobes in the media have claimed that Oli’s use of “they” as a singular pronoun can cause grammatical confusion. They prefer to call them him and they are angry at them because they do not respect their right to choose their pronouns for themself.
It’s been particularly distressing to see the abuse that Oli London has received from cis-Koreans
Those born in the wrong skin have always been persecuted for living their truth. I spent most of last year identifying as black in order to show my support for the BLM movement, and you wouldn’t believe the prejudice I experienced from whites. For instance, when I informed my hairdresser that I was now black and therefore immediately required an Afro weave, she actually told me to get out of her shop. This is the kind of prejudice that people of colour face every day.
It’s been particularly distressing to see the abuse that Oli London has received from cis-Koreans, who really do need to check their privilege. Trans-Koreans are Koreans, and their lived experience is valid.
So bravo to Oli London, who has always been Korean even when they wasn’t.
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