He was born a white male named Adam, but he now identifies as a Filipino named Ja Du.
"Whenever I'm around the music, around the food, I feel like I'm in my own skin," he told WTSP. " ... I'd watch the history channel sometimes for hours, whenever it came to that and nothing else intrigued me more but things about Filipino culture."
Ja Du is transracial, meaning that he was born as a member of one race but identifies with a different one. The term started picking up steam after Rachel Dolezal stepped down from her position leading a local branch of the NAACP after it was revealed in 2015 that her parents are white, reports USA Today.
Dolezal said at the time that she identifies as a black woman, and since then the transracial community has grown to a small but visible size.
"I wish Americans understood that race is a social construct, even if we don't want it to be," she said in a press release, according to USA TODAY. "The system of racial classification is fiction, and we need to thoughtfully evaluate whether perpetuating it rigidly or allowing fluidity across the spectrum best supports human rights and social justice."
Ja Du, who drives a Filipino Tuk Tuk for everyday use, told WTSP that he grew up feeling like he had a special connection to Filipino culture, but at the time of the interview the Florida man had not told yet his family about his identity, because he worried they would not understand, especially after Dolezal faced ridicule.
But after creating a Facebook group and meeting others like him online, he is ready to open up.
He said that he realized he was transracial when he reflected back on being a kid and seeing his white peers "acting as though they were of African-American descent" and getting abused for it.
"I think if you're unhappy with who you are, and you change yourself for the better and that makes you happy, go for it," he said. " … We have the freedom to pursue happiness in our own ways.
Psychologist Stacey Scheckner has worked with a number of transgender clients and recommends that anyone who wants to make permanent changes to their body thoroughly talk it through with a professional to make sure they are making the right choice.
"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?" she said. "All they want to do is throw themselves into that culture and celebrate it."
Ja Du is also transsexual and considering a gender change, though he has spoken openly with his family about it.
Ja Du said he is not trying to appropriate someone else's culture or gain some benefits granted to minorities such as having access to the host of Filipino scholarships that are out there.
"I think that we all have the freedoms to pursue happiness in our own ways," he added.