China’s transgender community overcomes daily obstacles to acceptance

China 24

Transgender people’s daily lives can often mean hiding in the shadows, in fear of revealing their true selves. However, there are some signs of progress for the trans community facing these struggles in China.

CGTN’s Frances Kuo reports.

A party kicks things off for “Shanghai Pride,” the city’s annual LGBT event. For those in the city, it’s one of the few times they feel free to be themselves.

“They are always suffering and feel they can’t go on living if they can’t get the gender they identify as,” Talk-Show Personality Chao Ziaomi said.

Chao knows this first-hand. He describes himself as gender fluid.

“There really needs to be some changes, or a little more understanding from families, it would really save many lives,” he said.

That’s a message that doesn’t always match reality. Tran people say they are deeply misunderstood, and face discrimination from their own relatives. Some are evicted from their home, and others fear for their lives.

“Many cases we come across are really horrible, including cases in which parents want to kill the child. So the best solution sometimes is to directly strip the parents of their right of custody. But the situation in China now is that stripping parents’ of custody rights is very hard,” Zhuo Huichen, co-founder of a trans center NGO said. 

Trans people often feel the inner turmoil between the gender they are born with and the one they identify with. Society’s stigma doesn’t help.

“Identity cards can be altered, however the process is quite convoluted. You need the local police station, the local neighborhood committee, the police department, all kinds of examination,” Chao said.

That makes it hard to find work. According to the Beijing LGBT Center, unemployment among trans people is three times the average.

Then there’s the emotional toll. A survey in 2017 by the non-profit Beijing LGBT Center found more than 60-percent of the Chinese trans community suffers from depression. Nearly half thought about suicide, and 13 percent have tried it.

However, there are signs of hope for the trans community. More advocacy organizations are forming, and online support groups are growing. These are steps the trans community hopes will encourage more trans people to show their true colors.

Ying Xin discusses challenges faced by China’s transgender community

CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke to Ying Xin about what it means to be trangender in China. Ying is the Executive Director of the Beijing LGBT Center in China.