In Hong Kong, transgender culture is nearing a watershed moment. Last year, three trans men fought for legal recognition before the High Court. The government of the Chinese city faces increasing pressure from the Commission of Equal Opportunity to do away with prerequisites for sex reassignment surgery. Trans people, lawyers, and activists insist that despite the 2013 ruling allowing a transgender woman to marry a man, there’s still a long way to go.
Traditional Chinese values are very much present in Hong Kong despite western influences. According to these values, heterosexuality is the privileged and natural sexual orientation. In efforts to maintain “conventional” lifestyles, popular media often discriminate and marginalize members of the LGBT community in Hong Kong.
Activism has increased since the government of Hong Kong legalized homosexual relationships between men in 1991. The 2000s ushered in a new wave of political activism, still going strong.
Hong Kong trans dating is impeded by certain factors. The government uses high real estate density to regulate property prices, leading to a limited choice in residential premises. Often, there is an economic need to reside with one’s immediate family, which makes it harder for many trans people to express themselves without the risk of family disapproval and even violence. In Hong Kong, the family unit includes everyone who can make an economic contribution, and achieving financial stability is the quickest way to acceptance. Hongkongers are compelled to be individualistic and self-reliant to secure their material survival. Heterosexual marriage is sometimes the only alternative for housing outside of the family because the Home Ownership Scheme prioritizes married heterosexual couples.
Many trans Hongkongers choose to keep living with their families despite the isolation from the trans community and the confusion this results in.
Members of the trans community also face discrimination in the workplace. During interviews, they have faced judgment or awkwardness when a prospective employer saw their appearance was inconsistent with the gender indicated on their ID. Even if they are qualified for a job, they might not be hired because of what is perceived as their ambiguous gender. Trans people don’t receive equal treatment at the workplace once hired, being asked to use the restroom according to their biological sex. If they refuse, they are unceremoniously dismissed. However, with active advocacy, there is hope that things will improve for the community and for those who want to date its members openly.