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China Trans Formed: Transsexuality, Medicine and the Popular Press in Postwar Taiwan

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Abstract:

In 1953, four years after Mao Zedong’s political regime took over mainland China and the Chinese Republican state was forced to relocate its base, news of the success of native doctors in converting a man into a woman made headlines in Taiwan. Considered by many as the “first” Chinese transsexual, Xie Jianshun was also frequently heralded as the “Chinese Christine” - an allusion to the contemporaneous American ex-G.I. transsexual celebrity, Christine Jorgenson. But besides its anatomical and surgical transformations, Xie Jianshun’s sex, I argue, was reconfigured by the cultural forces operating upon his body, through which new meanings of corporeality and sexual embodiments consolidated in postwar Sinophone culture. Within a week, the characterization of Xie changed from an average citizen whose ambiguous sex provoked uncertainty and anxiety throughout the nation, to a transsexual cultural icon whose fate would indisputably contribute to the global staging of Taiwan on par with the United States. The saga of Xie Jianshun and other sex change reports that filled the pages of the Taiwanese press in the following two decades exemplify the emergence of transsexuality as a form of modern sexual embodiment in Chinese society. In a different way, they also illustrate how the Republican government regained sovereignty in postwar Taiwan by inheriting and embracing a Western biomedical epistemology of sex from the Japanese colonial regime. More broadly, this paper uses the cultural politics of transsexuality to reflect on the evolving geopolitical contours of Greater China in the postwar era of transnationalism.
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Association:
Name: 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions
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http://www.4sonline.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519704_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Chiang, Howard. "China Trans Formed: Transsexuality, Medicine and the Popular Press in Postwar Taiwan" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Center Hotel, Cleveland, OH, Nov 02, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519704_index.html>

APA Citation:

Chiang, H. , 2011-11-02 "China Trans Formed: Transsexuality, Medicine and the Popular Press in Postwar Taiwan" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Center Hotel, Cleveland, OH <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519704_index.html

Publication Type: Paper Abstract
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In 1953, four years after Mao Zedong’s political regime took over mainland China and the Chinese Republican state was forced to relocate its base, news of the success of native doctors in converting a man into a woman made headlines in Taiwan. Considered by many as the “first” Chinese transsexual, Xie Jianshun was also frequently heralded as the “Chinese Christine” - an allusion to the contemporaneous American ex-G.I. transsexual celebrity, Christine Jorgenson. But besides its anatomical and surgical transformations, Xie Jianshun’s sex, I argue, was reconfigured by the cultural forces operating upon his body, through which new meanings of corporeality and sexual embodiments consolidated in postwar Sinophone culture. Within a week, the characterization of Xie changed from an average citizen whose ambiguous sex provoked uncertainty and anxiety throughout the nation, to a transsexual cultural icon whose fate would indisputably contribute to the global staging of Taiwan on par with the United States. The saga of Xie Jianshun and other sex change reports that filled the pages of the Taiwanese press in the following two decades exemplify the emergence of transsexuality as a form of modern sexual embodiment in Chinese society. In a different way, they also illustrate how the Republican government regained sovereignty in postwar Taiwan by inheriting and embracing a Western biomedical epistemology of sex from the Japanese colonial regime. More broadly, this paper uses the cultural politics of transsexuality to reflect on the evolving geopolitical contours of Greater China in the postwar era of transnationalism.


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Mainland China Frames Taiwan: How China’s News Websites Covered Taiwan’s 2004 Presidential Election


 
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