The Trans Community in Macau and China

In general, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people in Macau are not happy. They feel “high” or “considerable” levels of discrimination, data of a large-scale recent survey show. The majority of respondents living in the former Portuguese enclave does not feel the government is doing enough to protect their community.

The survey was done by Rainbow of Macau, which is the first organization for LGBT rights in the city. Just under two-thirds of respondents complained about discrimination, while 55.8 percent stated the efforts of the government to remove the stigma from the community were totally inadequate. A spokesman for the organization declared that educational and state institutions in the country should do more to promote public understanding of how diverse gender identities and sexual orientation can be. One way to achieve this would be to make gender equality in school curricula a priority and conduct more public awareness campaigns on the issue.

How Unhappy is the Community?

On a scale of one to ten (from miserable to very happy), three out of five respondents ranked under five. Other reports on the state of the LGBT community in China, more specifically the trans community, are even direr.

The following information comes from Hong Kong media, which may be biased given the recent conflict between Hong Kong and China. However, it could be legitimate. According to these media, few facilities provide gender reassignment surgery in the vast country, where there are no official statistics on trans persons. The medical information on hormone treatment is largely unavailable and it may not be accurate and reliable. As a result, people turn to the internet or the black market.

In China, you can’t get gender reassignment surgery without your family’s consent. Understandably, a lot of people do not want to discuss the issue with their loved ones because of how they feel the latter would react. Many families have gone so far as to disown members for being trans.

What Do International Organizations Say?

Earlier this year, a report from Amnesty International found a lack of information, widespread discrimination, and highly limiting eligibility requirements in China. Combined with the costs of medical procedures, this has led a lot of trans people in China to attempt risky, unprofessional treatment or even self-surgery. Hormonal medication expenses alone are unaffordable for many.

According to an Amnesty International researcher, the country’s discriminatory laws have led many to seek dangerous hormone drugs that are sold illegally or even perform surgery on themselves.

On a more positive note, the government has accepted the UN Human Rights Council’s recommendations to outlaw discrimination against members of the LGBTI community. Recently, the WHO removed “gender identity disorder” from its list of diagnoses. In Macau, trans culture is not particularly visible, although some legislators and activists are trying to change that for the LGBT community in general.

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