Prejudice: a thing of the past in China?

Dancer Jin Xing – the first celebrity transgender in China – recently claimed that she was banned by the Zhejiang Provincial Administration of Radio, Film and Television from being the judge of Zhejiang Satellite TV’s entertainment show We Are The Music, owing to her transsexual identity. Xing’s claim, if true, saddens me – and shows that while China is ultramodern in so many ways (step forward the space missions, Pudong skyline, Maglev trains and the country’s apparent ability to shrug off the financial crisis), it still lags behinds the western world in other respects.

Case in point? As of last week Australian passports now have three gender options – male, female and indeterminate under new guidelines to remove discrimination against transgender – while in the UK, Channel Four has ordered a four-part observational series following four transgender people on their journey to their true identities, which will air this autumn.  Elsewhere in America, the news series of hit ABC show, Dancing with the Stars, featurestransgender activist Chaz Bono (the man born as the daughter of Sonny and Cher) as one of the series 12 competitors.

Life for those who do not fit neatly in to the “man” or “woman” box must surely be difficult enough – stats show that around half of all transgender teenagers, will make a suicide attempt before they turn 20 – without the Zhejiang Provincial Administration of Radio, Film and Television making things tougher still. For the fact of the matter is that Jin Xing didn’t get to choose her sexual identity – nobody ever does.

Being transgender does nothing to prevent one from making a terrific success of their job – witness the ascendancy not only of Nadia Almada who won UK reality television show, Big Brother in 2004, much to the delight of presenter Davina McCall who declared Alamada (born Jorge Leodoro)tobe her favourite housemate of all time, but the former Chinese army colonel Jin Xing’s staggering career as a world-class prima ballerina. Nor does it means that they are not a gentle, ever loving person.

We all have a regrettable, if natural curiosity, about transgender people, yet prejudice should not be allowed to flaw this curiosity. To be prejudice is to persecute. It does not matter what our gender is. We are all human beings blessed with life and this is what we share. We need to learn to love and to give love unconditionally, and this is the immutable law by which China (and the wider world) should be driven.

In my experience, the Chinese people are fiercely proud of their civilisation and history, their written language, their inventions and achievements – and rightly so. As a laowai living in the Middle Kingdom, I have been awestruck by China’s potential. But I am dumbstruck by the prejudice displayed by the Zhejiang Provincial Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Jin Xing isn’t a freak; rather the real freaks are those, like Zhejiang Satellite TV, who are intolerant of anyone that is different.

Prejudice and intolerance have long outstayed their welcome in China and with a united, combined effort, they could and should be banished as things of the past.