A leading LGBT rights activist in China
has announced that her partner is a transgender man.
Li Yinhe, dubbed by the media “China's
first sexologist,” added that she is not attracted to women.
Li is best known for her groundbreaking
book Their World, A Study of the Chinese Gay Community.
Published in 1992, the book was one of the first major studies of gay
men in China. Critics, however, called the book “pornographic.”
In 2003, 2005 and 2006, Li, as a member of the national committee of
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, submitted
proposals to allow gay couples to marry.
According to Shanghaiist,
Li is intensely private and only went public with her relationship in
response to claims that she is a lesbian who has lived for many years
with a “tomboy.”
Li has “deceived the entire nation”
about her sexual orientation because “licentiousness is the domain
of the homosexuals,” the commentator wrote.
“How anyone lives, who they choose to
spend their lives with, these are all private matters, and I have no
obligation to explain this to anyone,” Li wrote, “but since
someone has made such vicious allegations, I will have to set the
Li explained that after the death of
her husband, the novelist Wang Xiaobo, in 1997 she met her current
partner of 17 years, a female-to-male transgender taxi driver. The
couple is raising a son they adopted.
“I am indeed a heterosexual, not a
homosexual,” Li said. “I have no interest at all in the female
“My partner … is only able to fall
in love with heterosexual women, not homosexual women.”
In an addendum, she added: “I need to
clarify that when I say I'm a heterosexual, I'm just stating a matter
of fact. By no means do I think that I'm more normal than
homosexuals or morally more superior than them. Homosexuals and
heterosexuals are equally normal, and equally human.”
Li's disclosure sparked an intense
discussion online about China's transgender community.
A notable response came from the
People's Daily, an official newspaper of the government of
China, which wrote on its Weibo page: “Homosexuality,
transsexuality and AIDS all used to be taboo subjects, but today, we
discuss and debate them, and they have even come to be tolerated and
accepted by mainstream society. Everyone is unique in some way, so
let's work to have society catch up with science. Respecting the
choices of the Li Yinhe's among us, is respecting ourselves.”