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Transgender

Trans People in China Risking Their Lives With Self-Surgery

China

A new Amnesty International report highlights the dangers of discrimination in the world's most populous nation.

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A dearth of information and services, paired with cultural stigma, has led many transgender Chinese to perform dangerous surgeries on themselves and to purchase black market hormones, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

The London-based human rights organization spoke to several transgender people in China, all of whom described a complete lack of assistance or information from health care providers on how to access hormones or start the process of medically transitioning. Many trans people in China said they sought information on transitioning from friends, as well as the country's restrictive internet. There is only one, recently-opened center in all of China that offers gender-affirming care. All those who identify as trans in China are classified as mentally ill, adding to the stigma gender-nonconforming people in the nation already face.

This dangerous environment has led to trans Chinese buying hormones on the internet without any medical supervision. Many trans Chinese described wild mood swings and depression after taking the pills. Others admitted to performing self-surgeries on themselves, some nearly dying in the process.

"I thought I was an abonrmal person," a trans woman named Huiming told Amnesty. "How could I explain this to my family? I was both happy and scared. I was scared because I was bleeding so badly, I could die right there. I feared I would still die a man, since I only did part of my surgery."

Huiming eventually went to the hospital, told her family she had an accident, and then eventually traveled to Thailand for gender-affirming surgery.

"The Chinese government can show it is serious in addressing discrimination against the LGBTI community by removing the barriers transgender people face when trying to access safe gender-affirming treatments," Doriane Lau, an Amnesty researcher in China, said in a statement.

China did agree last month to accept recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council to advance LGBTQ rights.

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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.