Heterogeneity in the desire to undergo various gender-affirming medical interventions among transgender people in Hong Kong: Findings from a community-driven survey and implications for the legal gender recognition debate

Yiu Tung SUEN, Chun Ho Randolph CHAN, Miu Yin Eliz WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Previous estimates suggest that there are at least nine million transgender people in Asia–Pacific; however, in most countries, legal gender recognition has not been made possible or there are otherwise stringent eligibility criteria. The obligation of having undergone gender-affirming medical interventions as a basis for such recognition is being hotly debated. However, there has been little empirical evidence on the desire to undergo various gender-affirming medical interventions among transgender people. This study fills the research gap by studying Hong Kong, where a transgender person must produce medical evidence for “complete” sex reassignment surgery in order to change the sex entry on their identity card. A community-driven survey of 234 transgender people found that only 13.0% of the participants who were assigned male at birth could fit such a requirement. Strikingly, because none of the participants assigned female at birth had undergone construction of a penis or some form of a penis, all of them would be excluded from legal gender recognition. Financial reasons and reservations about surgical risks and/or techniques were the most commonly cited reasons for not undertaking the medical interventions. The findings suggest that an overwhelming majority of transgender people in Hong Kong are excluded from legal gender recognition, which fundamentally affects their civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. More generally, this study shows heterogeneity among transgender people in the desire for different gender-affirming medical interventions, and thus argues that the legal gender recognition debate needs to consider their concerns and self-determination. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Early online date19 Sep 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Sep 2022

Citation

Suen, Y. T., Chan, R. C. H., & Wong, E. M. Y. (2022). Heterogeneity in the desire to undergo various gender-affirming medical interventions among transgender people in Hong Kong: Findings from a community-driven survey and implications for the legal gender recognition debate. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10508-022-02352-1

Keywords

  • Transgender
  • Sex reassignment
  • Gender-afrming medical interventions
  • Legal gender recognition
  • Hong Kong

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