A first of its kind study has revealed trans people in China are at high risks of physical violence and discrimination. They also experience worse mental health outcomes than other members of the population.
The National Survey of the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Population was conducted by the Beijing LGBT Center and Peking University’s Department of Sociology. The study interviewed 2,060 trans people of all genders and non-binary people.
Almost 50% of the study participants said they had considered suicide or self-harm. A quarter of those had attempted them. But the survey had an ‘opt-out’ option for this question, which may have yielded higher numbers.
Trans people also faced high levels of neglect, verbal and physical abuse at home, school, work and public spaces.
Many of the survey respondents said they did not have access to adequate medical care.
About 62% need to access hormone therapy and 51% want to have gender affirming treatment. But only about 6% said they were satisfied with access to hormone therapy in China, with just 2% saying there was enough resources for gender affirming treatment.
‘The medical resources are now far from adequate,’ said Beijing LGBT Center’s transgender program manager, Kelly Kiseki.
Workplace discrimination often meant trans people earned low incomes or lived in poverty.
The study showed a third of the respondents earned less than 25,000 yuan ($3,770) a year.
‘The discrimination from work is a reason that a relatively large number of transgender respondents earn a low income,’ the Beijing LGBT Center’s director, Xin Ying told reporters.
A cycle of discrimination, low income and inadequate healthcare, leads trans people to poor mental health outcomes according to James Yang, program officer at the United Nations Development Programme, Beijing LGBTI in Asia.
‘The discrimination and low income make it difficult for them to get proper medical treatment, which to some degree causes the high rates of self-harm and suicide,’ he said.
The Beijing LGBT Center was working hard to raise awareness and acceptance of trans people in the wider Chinese communities. It produced a short video to educate people about trans issues.
But a local trans woman said acceptance starts in the family home.
‘The two most urgent problems I think we need to solve are related,’ Pipi told Sixth Tone.
‘The first is understanding from family, and the other is adequate medical services.’