China: My Life as a Gay Father of a Trans Son

Jiancheng is the father of a 23-year-old transgender man. He’s also gay himself — a fact to which his wife is glumly resigned. Since 2013, Jiancheng has volunteered with PFLAG China to help parents accept their LGBT children.

PFLAG China was established in 2008, inspired by other PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) groups worldwide. The network has since grown in size and geographic spread to more than 1,200 volunteers nationwide, with regular meetings in around 50 cities, including Jiancheng’s hometown in northern China’s Hebei province.

In May, a group of PFLAG mothers were forced out of People’s Park in Shanghai when they tried to participate in the city’s longstanding matchmaking market to increase the visibility of LGBT people. 

Jiancheng’s own sexual orientation has given him firsthand experience of the silence, hurt, and judgement that LGBT individuals face. But he, too, struggled to support his son, who was raised as a girl.

“I worried my child might be a lesbian, and I really didn’t want to see her following in my footsteps,” Jiancheng says. But over time, Jiancheng and his child, Qing, found they could draw on each other for strength and understanding. It was through researching together online in 2014 that Qing came to recognize himself as a transgender man. Read more via Sixth Tone