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Howard Chiang

Chapter 24 provides an overview of secondary scholarship on gender non-conformity in Chinese culture and proposes three theoretical rubrics for imagining what we may call ‘transgender Chinese studies’. It points out that because transgender studies is enabled and complicated by the indeterminacy of such key concepts as gender, sexuality, and transgender, the study of transgender China points to different possibilities of transforming the field vis-à-vis the very reorientations of these concepts. This chapter argues that in the twenty-first century, the issue of kinship and the state sanction of queer unions have taken Chinese societies by storm. The imaginations of transgender China hold at least two significant implications for contemporary understandings of marriage, the family, and kinship. First, an individual’s decision to undergo gender transitioning often involves tacit and cautious negotiations with immediate family members. Such a decision has profound effects on the daily routines of relatives. Second, the right of transgender individuals to marry in their acquired gender rather than their biological sex at birth has formed the basis of several legal battles in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People’s Republic of China. The present juncture should allow both gay and lesbian groups and transgender groups to fight together for a radical expansion and reorientation of the meanings of civil union and kinship, given their shared history of social oppression.

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Howard Chiang

This chapter provides an overview of the latest social scientific research on gay and lesbian culture in post-Mao urban China. It specifically focuses on the significance of urbanization for the social manifestations of same-sex eroticism. This chapter argues that Chinese cities have become an important site of gay and lesbian political mobilization since the late 1970s. My analysis identifies three interrelated types of political mobilization that have been examined in-depth across the literature on queer urban China: (1) the pursuit of civil rights, (2) the claiming of cultural citizenship and (3) the political manoeuvring of social space. The major cities that constitute the focus of my discussion include Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenyang and Taipei. With respect to spatial politics, the chapter also discusses the relationship of urban queerness to alternative social sites beyond the physical boundaries of geographical China, including overseas communities and cyberspace.