Sunday, March 29, 2015

Blog 6: China Has One Amazing Transsexual Celeb—But Lousy LGBT Rights

Jin Xing is a former colonel in the Army for China. She is now a modern dance choreographer and the artistic director of the dance company she founded. She’s also a film actress, a stage performer, a TV talk show host, a mother, a wife, a true alpha personality. But Jin Xing was born a man, and learned how to dance by getting training from the people liberation Army (PLA) at the age of nine. With her studies being in dance along with her military service, and she eventually rose to the rank of colonel in the PLA. In 1995, a couple of years shy of 30, she underwent gender reassignment in China to fulfill a lifelong desire. At the time, she was already known in the dance world as a serious contender, someone who was pushing the envelope in China’s modern dance scene. Even though the surgery left her left leg paralyzed, she managed to recover, her career in dance and choreography only briefly placed on hold. When it was time for her to cross in the mainstream it was a little difficult, but success broke through when she appeared as a judge on televised Chinese talent shows that lightning struck. She secured a role in Tom Yum Goong, better known as The Protector, a popular action movie produced in Thailand. She continued her television appearances, and hosted her own talk shows. Although Jin Xing is popular. She speaks seven languages. She can probably blow up a bridge thanks to her military training. But she’s an outlier. Her success as a public figure is a special case. Those who stray out of cultural norms and identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or transsexual in China typically need to live with unreasonable friction. The state of LGBT rights in China is abysmal. Activists, in particular, face a slew of problems that stretch beyond the personal and become political. “Hooliganism”—a placeholder for consensual homosexual conduct—was decriminalized in China in 1997, but things haven’t gotten much better for the LGBT community since then. Peer to peer, Chinese society is becoming more accepting of the LGBT community, but positive depictions of LGBT characters on the silver screen are still illegal. Films in which a major character identifies as LGBT are usually banned, like Brokeback Mountain, or Wong Kar-wai’s film festival gem, Happy Together. (Stores that sell bootleg DVDs, however, don’t attach themselves to the same standards, so the banned films are actually still easily accessible.) In china many of the LBGT communities have to live in shame marriages meaning they marry for a cover up. Most of them live double lives and cannot show who they really are especially in public. Because of China’s laws, Confucian social constructs, and general expectations attached to gender roles, the concept of LGBT folks being part of a relationship is muted in China. A relationship in the LGBT community, seen from the outside, is often considered to be something that is not real and not honest. Not like a marriage or relationship between a man and woman. So another way to say this is not normal or abnormal. As a gay friend in Shanghai put it, “As long as we don’t talk about it, as long as we give our parents grandchildren, everything else is fine.” One time, five women’s rights and LGBT activists were arrested ahead of International Women’s Day. They were suspected of “creating a disturbance.” One of the activists, Wu Rongrong, has hepatitis. When her supporters showed up at the detention center to urge the authorities to provide adequate medical treatment for Miss Wu, they were arrested, too. In the US we have rules that permit us to conduct in a certain manner and people have rights even in prison they must be provided with necessities.
Tabitha McLaughlin, March 29,2015, 9:30pm

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