Life of a transsexual: Allow 'him' to be 'herself'

Life of a transsexual: Allow 'him' to be 'herself'
Liu Ting, in a ward at a plastic surgery hospital in Guangzhou, East China's Guangdong province, April 7.

"I feel I have become complete after the operation", Liu Ting told the Beijing Times, looking at herself in a mirror and arranging her hair.

Liu became a woman after six months of transsexual operations in March, ending her 28-year struggle living in a man's body.

With white skin and shoulder-length hair, she wears a white dress as she sits in a ward full of feminine articles, from high heels and cosmetics to plush toys.

But for her fame few would know she was once a male who claimed many titles, including "national moral model", due to taking care of her ailing mother while completing studies in middle school and college.

For Liu, fame is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, she and her mother were funded by schools and the public after their story hit the media.

On the other, she kept her secret and disguised herself to be a "model man" to match the title given by a society, where the majority of conservatives still view transsexualism a taboo.

"I really hated masculine characteristics in myself since high school," Liu recalled.

Her secret was once only shared with her mother, Lu Yongmin, who wondered whether it was years of attending to her illness that had fostered Liu's feminine characteristics.

Although blaming herself, Lu asked Liu to maintain the secrecy despite the latter's desire to become a woman.

"I waited to see if she became 'normal' when grown up. She is a national moral model. What would others say if her gender identity problem was exposed? "

The conflict ended on Dec 12, 2013 when Lu accompanied Liu to see a psychologist who diagnosed her as congenital gender dysphoria.

Lu changed her mind. "If I continued to set myself against Liu, I would lose my only child. I believed society will understand and accept her eventually."

The decisive moment came on August 14 last year when Liu announced at a press conference that she would undergo transsexual surgery, a move signifying that she was to finally face her true self.

"Waking from the operation, I am really delighted," she said. It seems pains from the surgery did not reduce her high spirits at all and she is optimistic about the future.

"I will apply for a new identification card (by changing name and gender) after getting my operation certification," she said.

She plans to publish an autobiography, appear in a movie based on her own life and sell self-made anti-smog masks.

Facing questions about her identity, she said she could be a woman and a model. To be transsexual does not hamper her ambition to be a model, she said.

The transsexual issue sparked a heated debate when Li Yinhe, China's first female sex sociologist, revealed her female-to-male transsexual partner of 17 years on her blog at the end of last year.

Transsexuality has long been a taboo subject in China and openly transgender people have been subjected to widespread discrimination, according to Yang Wanli's report from China Daily.

"We've seen greater public acceptance of lesbians, gays and bisexuals in the past three to five years, but there is still a lack of knowledge about transgender people," Geng Le, director of Danlan, a website for gay people, said.

But the situation is changing.

Despite limited understanding of the subject, increasing numbers of transsexuals are brave enough to face the public and accept public discussion over their sexual orientation.

A case in point is Chen Min, 26, who underwent surgery earlier this year to have her male sexual organs removed and replaced with a vagina constructed from the excess tissue.

"Now, you often see transgender people in the media, which is a real step forward. We hope and expect to see greater social tolerance towards the 'T community' in years to come," Chen said.

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