Handbook on the Family and Marriage in China
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Handbook on the Family and Marriage in China

Edited by Xiaowei Zang and Lucy X. Zhao

This Handbook advances research on the family and marriage in China by providing readers with a multidisciplinary and multifaceted coverage of major issues in one single volume. It addresses the major conceptual, theoretical and methodological issues of marriage and family in China and offers critical reflections on both the history and likely progression of the field.
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Chapter 24: Transgender in China

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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