Hong Kong’s transgender community still faces an uphill battle against discrimination

Posted on November 7, 2016

Transgender individuals like Terry Hui, pictured in February in Hung Hom, often complain of unfair treatment in the city. Photo: SCMP

Gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder – the condition of experiencing distress because of a mismatch between one’s biological sex and gender identity – affects a growing number of Hongkongers. The number seeking psychiatric help in public hospitals doubled from 75 in 2011-12 to 158 between last year and this year.

At present about 160 patients are seeking treatment. With the end of Pink Season today – a festival celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) acceptance, inclusion and awareness – activists are pushing for fairer treatment for transgender individuals.

According to Dr Greg Mak Kai-lok, a psychiatrist who formerly worked for the government and has treated more than 100 gender dysphoria patients in the public sector, transgender individuals in the city are still subject to immense stigma. Hong Kong needs to have more formalised training for medical professionals working with such patients, he added.

Hongkongers have slowly started to embrace transgender individuals in recent years, especially after a landmark case in 2013 allowing a transsexual woman who had completed government-funded sex realignment surgery, “W” , to marry her boyfriend.

Yet the city’s treatment of such individuals still falls drastically short. In September, two transgender women visiting Hong Kong from Bangkok for sightseeing and shopping were refused entry at the airport because they “did not satisfy the purpose of their holiday.” Officials asked the women if they were “cut already,” telling them to sign documents confirming that they had completed full gender reassignment surgery and that they would voluntarily return to Thailand immediately.

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Category(s):LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) Issues, Mental Health in Asia

Source material from South China Morning Post

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