Providing inspiration for repressed minority
Choi gained fame two years ago when she made it to the final round of a local supermodel contest, becoming both the first transgender to do so and the first such participant.
The 24-year-old college senior, who is majoring in dance, said she still vividly recalls Harisu’s debut commercial a decade ago.
“I was 15 at the time. I was thrilled that I could live like her,” recalled Choi. “I attended an all-boys middle school, but I was different; I carried a pink Hello Kitty backpack stuffed with cute stationery.”
Choi underwent sex reassignment surgery at the age of 19.
Harisu, Choi said, was a trailblazer for transgenders in Korea. “She made a great impact, and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her.”
Choi proudly said she wants to knock down barriers for young transgender people and become a role model.
“Harisu has achieved many things, but there is still much to be done. I want to be the person who can do that. I will go to graduate school, and it would be better if it’s for women only,” said Choi with a grin on her face.
“My ultimate goal is becoming the first transgender with a doctorate [in Korea].”
Unlike many transgender people who are abandoned by their families because of their sexual identity, Choi was lucky. Her parents supported her decision to live as a woman and pursue a college education.
Choi is grateful for what she has achieved since the sex change operation, but she has one regret about her decision to live as a woman: “I can’t have a child. That is the only thing that I lost in my decision to live as the opposite sex.”
She added, “I have many dreams, but the biggest one of all is to have a happy family of my own and become a proud daughter to my parents.”
By Sung So-young [email@example.com]