A poll conducted among transgender people in China has found alarming rates of mental health problems and family violence in the community.

The study, released on Monday, also revealed that transgender people lacked access to medical treatment, and faced bullying on campus and workplace discrimination.

The findings were compiled by the Beijing LGBT Center, Peking University, and the United Nations Development Programme with support from the embassy of the Netherlands in China.

china transgender
Photo: Beijing LGBT Center.

The study was conducted through an online questionnaire which received over 2,000 valid responses. Sixth Tone reported that it was the largest such survey to date.

There is a lack of official statistics the size of the transgender population in China, but NGO Asia Catalyst has estimated that there are over four million trans people in mainland China.

The study found that 73 per cent of respondents suffered from anxiety, over 60 per cent suffered from depression with 46 per cent expressing that they had considered suicide, and over 10 per cent had previously attempted suicide.

Over three quarters said they did not seek psychological counselling as they felt that a therapist would not be able to understand them and would not be able to help them solve their problems.

Of the 1,640 whose relatives knew or had guessed their gender identity, all but six reported experiencing family violence at least once. Over 70 per cent of respondents also said that they have previously experienced violence at school, and were three times more likely to be unemployed.


According to China Daily, over 60 percent expressed a demand for hormone therapy while over 50 per cent had a demand for gender reassignment surgery. However, only six percent were satisfied with the provision of – and access to – hormone therapy within the country. Only two percent thought there were adequate medical resources for sexual reassignment surgeries.

transgender study china
Photo: Beijing LGBT Center.

The authors of the report recommended that the authorities accelerate the legislation of an anti-discrimination law, establish a formal system for obtaining home treatment drugs, and stop requiring gender information on some documents.

It also recommended that the government abolish the rule which requires sex assignment surgery before citizens can change their gender on official documents.

In January, a man in Guizhou won the country’s first unfair dismissal case against a transgender person, but the court found insufficient evidence that he was dismissed because of discrimination.

If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call: The Samaritans 2896 0000 (24-hour, multilingual), Suicide Prevention Centre 2382 0000 or the Social Welfare Department 2343 2255. The Hong Kong Society of Counselling and Psychology provides a WhatsApp hotline in English and Chinese: 6218 1084. See also: HKFP’s comprehensive guide to mental health services in Hong Kong

If you are suffering from domestic violence, regardless of your age or gender, contact the police, Harmony House (click for details) and/or the Social Welfare Department on 28948896.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.