WAGIC’s second blog issue explores trans movements and media in China. In this issue, we take ‘trans’ as an umbrella term to refer to people whose gender identity is different from that they were assigned at birth. The past few years have seen a sharp increase in trans activism across China. We are interested in the role of media in trans activism in the country today.
We asked our contributors to reflect on how trans people in China use media to promote public awareness, navigate online censorship, connect with activists around the world, as well as the broader politics of representation of trans people in mainstream media.
In part one, Ausma Bernotaite provides an overview of trans activism in China and considers how media has featured in this. Their piece delves into the implications of China’s current media climate on individual trans activists, trans-led organisations, and the Chinese trans communities’ involvement globally.
In part two, Mason Na provides a personal reflection on his attempts to address trans-related topics in a movie and that movie’s subsequent retraction from the Internet due to the two actors’ wish to no longer publicly identify as trans. From his personal and professional experience, Mason reflects on the social pressures that trans people in China face.
Part three is written by APTN (Asia Pacific Transgender Network) and examines China’s current role in global trans activism efforts, and how the limited flow of information out of China on trans-related issues impacts knowledge about the situation in China, and international activism. This piece emphasises the need for the international community to make further efforts to engage and support the work of trans activists in China.
Part four continues the topic of trans films with a critical piece from Kelly Kiseki on Escape, a recently released documentary that was made by high school students and went viral across Chinese cyberspace. Kelly’s piece argues that despite its focus on the subject of trans experiences in China, the documentary suffers from many issues in terms of representation and participation of trans people in the making of the film.
Part five, written by Xi Yue (Sisi), discusses how trans people in China navigate participation in feminist and queer activism, her experience of acting as a trans woman, and explores common issues in media reporting on gender diverse people.
The final part of this issue is an interview with Chao Xiaomi, who is a genderfluid self-made public figure. Xiaomi shares her views on non-binary activism and some of the issues around representation of trans communities in popular media.