They are a part of a growing trend called "transracial."
Editor's note: since the subject of this story did not specify which pronoun to use in the original article, we have opted to use they, them and their in an effort to avoid misgendering.
Ja Du lives in Florida and has become part of a growing group of people who are white but identify as “transracial.” Ja Du is also transgender.
You may remember two years ago, Rachel Dolezal had the media by the reigns with her story, she is a white woman who identifies as African American.
Ja Du identifies as Filipino although not biologically part of that ethnicity, hence the "transracial" moniker.
“Whenever I’m around the music, around the food, I feel like I’m in my own skin,” said Ja Du to WTSP News in Florida.
“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.”
Ja Du’s identity is not as rare as you might think, there is a steadily growing community of people who feel the same way, they discuss their feelings in private groups on social media, something Ja Du is also a part of.
Afraid of being ridiculed, Ja Du has not told their family about their identity. Dr. Stacey Scheckner, a licensed psychologist has worked with transgender people before but never someone who is transracial.
“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,” Scheckner said.
“And, as long as it’s not hurting yourself or anyone else, I don’t see a problem with that.”
She adds: “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.”
“I think before we get offended, we need to take a step back and think about what is the harm.”
Dr. Scheckner does believe that a person going through what Ja Du is should seek out a professional to talk to about their feelings.
“I work with a lot, in my 15 years, a lot of transgender people. Before the doctors that I send them to do any type of physical changes to their body, they go through a long process with me and actually most the people, they are not upset about it because they want to make sure that they’re doing the right thing.”
As for accusations of cultural appropriation, Ja Du says some people may try and take advantage of their race identity in that way, but adds there is a difference, "I don’t want that. I think that we all have the freedoms to pursue happiness in our own ways.”