Conceptualizing Chinese transgender prejudice: Themes found from a qualitative study

Kan Diana KWOK, Man Wai LEE

Research output: Other contributionOther contributions


Purpose Despite the fact that Hong Kong government aims to develop an inclusive society, transgender and other sexual minority students continue to encounter sexual prejudice and transgender prejudice in schools without legal protection. They also have difficulties accessing relevant services from mental health and educational professionals, who do not receive systematic training to work with LGBTQ students. Informed by the literature on sexual prejudice (Herek, 2000), genderism (Bilodeau, 2009), and helping professionals' code of ethics, the authors explored teachers, school social workers and guidance counselors ’ self-perceived knowledge on sexuality, and how they define prejudice in Chinese cultural context.
Materials and Methods Semi-structure qualitative interviews were carried out with 34 informants through purposive sampling, on their understanding of sexuality knowledge and sexual prejudice. This presentation specifically focuses on informants' perceived understanding of transgender knowledge and sexual prejudice. Data analysis were carried out through themetic analysis via NVivo, and follow the procedures spelt out in the qualitative research literature. Trustworthiness of the study was addressed through various strategies.
Results Four themes emerged: “Role Confusion”, “Coherent Sexuality”, “Culture Dilemmas,” and “Religiosity Struggles". The predominant concepts of binary sex and dichotomous gender were commonly found from the narratives of the informants. Informants also indicated that the teachings of Confucianism cultural values might well be factors contributing to their ideas of social hierarchy, i.e., “Stable and Solid” family positions of fathers, husbands, and sons within Chinese society. Although human rights and social justice concepts were embedded in social work Code of Ethics, quite a number of informants faced a dilemma when supporting transgender students navigating genderism in schools and social service agencies, as a consequence of their personal and service agencies’ religious backgrounds.
Conclusion The focus of the discussion is to argue that social workers and helping professionals have no knowledge or formal training around gender variance and appear to act on own prejudices rather than actively seeking understanding on gender issues. Based on the preliminary themes emerged from this study, when conceptualizing the transgender prejudice among social workers in Hong Kong, we need to take the unique culture context into consideration, such as code of ethics for social workers, Confucianism, religiosity, and human rights values. The authors propose that gender and sexuality studies with a social justice and cultural perspective be integrated into social work and helping professionals' training to ensure their competence to support transgender service users. Copyright © 2018 WPATH.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


Kwok, D. K., & Lee, M. W. (2016, June). Conceptualizing Chinese transgender prejudice: Themes found from a qualitative study. Poster session presented at the 24th Biennial World Professional Association for Transgender Health Symposium: Growing: Empowerment, Expertise, Evidence, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


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