Transgender Recognition and Visibility in Hong Kong

Yesterday marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia which recognises, supports and celebrates gender and sexual diversity, as well as draws attention to the discrimination, violence, and stigma faced by gender and sexual minorities. The challenges sexual and gender minorities face are diverse and complex. For today, we want to give attention to the transgender population in Hong Kong.

Transgender individuals are people whose personal identity and gender differs from what is typically associated with their assigned sex at birth, and this population faces numerous challenges in the city. Last year, CUHK published findings from the city's largest survey on transgender people to date. More than three-quarters of the respondents reported having faced rejection in different facets of their social life, and over half reported facing discrimination at least once over the previous year at work, in school, and when providing or receiving goods and services, among other areas.

Concerningly, discrimination is taking a toll -- 77% of respondents have contemplated suicide and well over one-third showing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Whilst local data is not available, overseas research indicates transgender people face much higher risk of intimate partner violence and sexual abuse over the course of their lifetime than individuals who are not transgender. News stories have covered workplace discrimination and sexual harassment, legal challenges around official identification, the denial of using changing rooms and difficulties around the use of public restrooms, among many other challenges and barriers in daily life.

There is a lot of work to do to promote social inclusion, and work and legal equality for the transgender community. At TWF, we know gender equality cannot be achieved without the equality and inclusion of all genders. We have – and will continue – to advocate for a standalone discrimination ordinance for people who identify as LGBT+ which would protect this population from being discriminated against at work, at school or in public. It would also allow for LGBT+ people who do face discrimination to seek legal redress. In addition to supporting this legislation, there are a growing number of local resources available to better support Hong Kong's transgender population. Employers can refer to this guide by the Association of World Citizens Hong Kong China or this guide from Gender Empowerment which both focus on building trans-friendly workplaces. We all need to take time to learn more about the issues and how to support family, friends or colleagues who are transgender or considering transitioning. The Transgender Resource Center or Transgender Equality Hong Kong are two good places to start.

Let's work to create a safe and equal city for all, so that gender and sexuality can be freely expressed in dignity by everyone.

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Written by

The Women's Foundation