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Off-Track Trans Policies (Part IV): A lot of hype around GRA—Wang: Might cause people to misunderstand trans


If the legal sex can be easily changed, transsexuals and transgenders will be indistinguishable to everyone including our government and many institutions. Some people may use these loopholes to serve their interests. In that case, the public may tend to blame all trans people for this. Then the act will end up doing nothing good to anyone. Trans people will be misunderstood more badly.



Recently, the news of the “Gender Recognition Act (GRA)” provoked a major conflict in Taiwan’s LGBTQ communities. Based upon this issue, our journalist (CTWANT) interviewed Professor Daw-Wei Wang, the director of the Counselling Center at National Tsing Hua University (NTHU). Professor Wang has always been keen on gender issues. He told us that “From the perspective of one’s mental health, the core of this issue is not the legislation. Rather, it is our adequate understanding about trans people’s real needs.”

Professor Wang has been the director of the Counselling Center for over 5 years. He explained to us: “Every year, trans students seek help from our center…Most of them hope to permanently transit to another sex or gender by receiving the sex reassignment surgery. Everyone is at a different transition stage due to their personal conditions. However, I have never heard any student say he/ she wants to change the legal sex without receiving a surgery.” Further, he worried that a lot of hype around the GRA might cause Taiwanese people to misunderstand trans—as a group of people who would like to change the legal sex without receiving a surgery.

Professor Wang told us, “I believe that in order to conform to their genders, most trans want a permanent change through the surgeries. Only if the public believe so can trans feel relaxed in the society.” However, the process of transition is not easy. For example, a trans person has to face the high expenses of counselling, the surgical risks, his/ her family’s support, or specific job opportunities, etc. Every trans’ needs and conditions may be different. Trans people include both transsexuals and transgenders. The former tends to change their sexes through surgeries but the latter (like crossdressers and intersexes) does not. Most Taiwanese people are not familiar with the differences between them.

“Personally, I would say that seeing transsexuals’ real needs is more important. The individuals need more kindness and support. An authoritative voice is the least necessary thing in this case. One’s gender performance does not have to conform to the social norms. It needs not to be criticized or blamed.” Professor Wang emphasized.

Again, Professor Wang showed his concerns: “The GRA is not as ‘irreversible’ as the sex reassignment surgery is. It cannot promise that the applicant’s gender identity will always be stable. People’s trust will be damaged in daily social interactions. This act could hardly be advocated simply from the aspect of human rights.” He said, “If the legal sex can be easily changed, transsexuals and transgenders will be indistinguishable to everyone including our government and many institutions. Some people may use these loopholes to serve their interests. In that case, the public may tend to blame all trans people for this. Then the act will end up doing nothing good to anyone. Trans people will be misunderstood more badly.”

“Thus, the Administrative Explanations probably needs to be risen to a higher rank in Taiwan’s laws. Personally, I would suggest that a basically similar law can be made. In addition, the requirements for one’s legal sex change should be more delicate and clearer. In this way, it will truly be helpful to trans people and reduce impacts on our society.” Professor Wang concluded.

The founder of Loving Parents of LGBT as well as the mother of a trans child, Ms. Kuo told us that such advocacies should not be pushed in a haste. She said: “Same-sex marriage and GRA are totally different cases. Same-sex marriage is only about two persons. The GRA for trans people is not that simple. How should we explain to the public that women’s safety is not influenced? Especially when a trans-identified male can access to female dormitories, female swimming pools, female gyms even if female spas?”

Ms. Kuo gave some examples to us: “Everyone will be alerted when hearing a 20-year-old girl has to sleep and take bath with a trans-identified male. Therefore, we should consider the society’s view on these issues provoked by the GRA.” She said: “Take trans men as an example, our government requires them to remove the wombs before changing their legal sex. Though Taiwanese people can never tell which trans man has removed the womb from the appearance, they have to be assured that each man/ male they meet does not have a womb. From the government’s perspective, one’s change of legal sex should be irreversible (like the removement of a womb). Considering the important functions of our society, as I have said, we cannot let anyone change the legal sex based on his or her feelings. Various conditions have to be considered altogether.”

“Though Taiwan’s GRA could be a fastest and most convenient way of legal sex change to transgenders, it would provoke a lot of issues and skip some important things in the legislation. Honestly speaking, our government can barely offer a set of perfect supplements to it. As the mother of a trans child, I would rather see our public departments offer practical assistances such as subsidies to a sex reassignment surgery or free counselling service.” Ms. Kuo summarized.

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