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Gender Transformations in Sinophone Taiwan

Gender Transformations in Sinophone Taiwan
1 Devonshire Place, Room 208N, Munk School of Global Affairs
Time: Nov 11th, 2:00 pm End: Nov 11th, 4:00 pm
Interest Categories: Women/Gender, Women & Gender Studies (FAS), Sexual Diversity, Medicine, Faculty of , History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC), East Asian Studies (FAS), 2000-
Talk by Howard Chiang, University of Waterloo

The Munk School of Global Affairs presents Global Taiwan Lecture Series

Gender Transformations in Sinophone Taiwan

In the summer of 1953, the United Daily News (???) in Taiwan announced the sex change surgery of the "first" Chinese transsexual, Xie Jianshun (???). Xie's story soon triggered an avalanche of media sensationalism in postwar Taiwan. Enthusiasts labeled her "the Chinese Christine," an allusion to the American transsexual celebrity of the time, Christine Jorgensen, who had travelled to Denmark for her sex reassignment surgery and as a consequence attracted worldwide attention. Within a week, the characterization of Xie in the Taiwanese press changed from an average citizen whose ambiguous sex provoked uncertainty and anxiety throughout the nation, to a transsexual icon whose fate indisputably contributed to the global staging of Taiwan on a par with the United States. Centering on the making of Xie's celebrity, this presentation argues that the publicity surrounding her transition worked as a pivotal fulcrum in shifting common understandings of transsexuality, the role of medical science, and their evolving relation to the popular press in mid-twentieth century Sinophone culture.

Speaker Bio:
Howard Chiang is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Waterloo. He is the editor of Transgender China (2012), Queer Sinophone Cultures (2013, with Ari Larissa Heinrich), Psychiatry and Chinese History (2014), Historical Epistemology and the Making of Modern Chinese Medicine (2015), and Perverse Taiwan (2016, with Yin Wang). He is currently completing a monograph on the history of sex change and sexological science in modern China and editing a 3-volume encyclopedia of global lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer history.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is required. For further information, please contact Eileen Lam at 416-946-8918


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