China: Transgender people forced to hide behind their secrets

At home her son still calls her daddy, at work she dresses in a masculine style, but this Chinese person has a “little secret” — she was born male, but is not any more. She had long identified as a woman, and suffered from depression after starting a family, opting in the end to have a surgical sex change.

“I had wanted to kill myself, but then I decided I should do something — if I die, I’d rather die on the operating table,” she added. Chinese society remains deeply traditional in many respects so in public she still has to hide her new identity and does not want her name or occupation revealed, for fear of any negative consequences. Now she tries to help others in her position, running an online network from her home to connect transgender individuals with each other and professionals such as doctors, psychiatrists and lawyers — who can help with divorces.

Sexually ambiguous characters have a long history in Chinese art and literature, but being transgender is still classified as a mental illness in the country —homosexuality was removed from the category in 2001 —although sex reassignment surgery is legal.

Transgender issues were given unusual prominence in China last year when the country’s most famous sexologist, Li Yinhe, announced she had been living for 17 years with a partner who was born female but identifies as a man, referring to him as her “husband” and stressing she sees herself as heterosexual. Read more via Japan Times