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Welcome to the Transgender ASIA Research Centre. The Centre
seeks to bring together psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, as well as
medical and legal experts who share a desire to better understand the phenomenon
of transgenderism, as well as the circumstances in which transpeople (transgendered
people) live, in
Asia. This website aims to promote and disseminate research and
understanding of, as well as contributing towards efforts to effect social
change in regard to, transgenderism in Asia.
A definition of
Transgender ASIA defines transpeople as those males or females
of any age who are unhappy living in the gender identity ascribed to them at
birth. They have perhaps assumed a
full-time alternative gender identity. Alternatively they intend to do so, or
would do so if circumstances allowed. The essential feature here is identity; the sense, for example, of being born male but feeling female (or
indeed a member of a third gender). Sexual preference is irrelevant. Used in this way the term transgenderism is
broadly synonymous with transsexualism (though this term is commonly limited to
those transpeople who seek or undergo genital surgery).
Modern Western psychiatry regards transpeople as suffering
Identity Disorder. But TransgenderASIA shares the view that transgenderism is
simply one aspect of human diversity. It is a difference not a disorder. Transpeople are no more mad than they are bad or sad. While transpeople, like everyone else, may suffer problems of adjustment,
those suffered by transpeople most commonly arise out of the
intolerance of those around them to their gender diversity. If we can speak of any
gender identity disorder at all, it is in the inability of many societies to
accept the particular gender identity difference we call transgenderism.
Why a need to study Asian
Research in transgenderism is mostly Western. Some years ago Sam Winter examined the humanities
and social sciences literature on transpeople. Of 235 key publications on transgenderism in the
period 1992 to 2002 around 41% were European and 48% were North American, a
total of 89% from two parts of the world that account for only 20% of its
population. Only seven per cent were from Asia.(search
In many of the 46 countries across the
continent we find that transgenderism is an aspect of modern society; in some a very open
and vibrant aspect, in others less so. We suggest that Asian transpeople
both a majority within the world at large, as well as a markedly under-researched
Asia embraces a wide variety of ethnic groups, religions, cultures, as well
as social, legal and economic circumstances in
which the practising transperson must live. As a result, we cannot assume that research
done in the developed societies of North America, Europe and Australia can
inevitably enhance our understanding of transgenderism in Asia.
Most Asian societies are characterised by low levels of violence
against transpeople. this aside, transpeople often face daily prejudice and discrimination, suffer
great intolerance and hardship, become more socially marginalised (even
excluded) and have to endure more frequent and
fundamental affronts to dignity and human rights, than do their peers in the
developed world. In many Asian societies they have less protection under the
For all these reasons, there is a great need for more research into,
understanding of and social action for transgenderism in Asia. Transgender ASIA aims to facilitate all three.
For more information on the Asian transgender experience see
Winter, S. (2009). Lost in transition: transpeople,
transprejudice and pathology in Asia. International Journal of Human Rights, 13,
For research on the way in which the pathologisation of gender
identity difference prompts or supports transprejudice see:
Winter, S., Chalungsooth,P., Teh,Y.K., Rojanalert,N.,
Maneerat,K., Wong,Y.W., Beaumont,A., Ho,M.W.,L., Gomez,F. and Macapagal, R.A.
(2009). Transpeople, transprejudice and pathologisation: a seven-country factor
analytic study. International Journal of Sexual Health, 21, 2, 96-118.
For ideas on how the Asian transgender experience might inform
changes in standards for healthcare for transpeople worldwide see Winter, S. (2009) Cultural considerations for the
World Professional Association for Transgender Health's (WPATH) Standards of
Care: the Asian perspective. International Journal of Transgenderism, 11, 1,
We invite you to make contact to
enquire about the
Centre or to ask to
join our mailing list
to receive prompt information on updates through your e mail.
We make efforts to avoid linking to any sites carrying material that might, for
any reason, be considered offensive. However, the nature of websites is
that they can be very extensive and can change on a daily basis. We cannot
therefore be held responsible for any links that turn out to
lead to offensive material. In the event that such material is found please inform
us so that we can examine whether we need to take the link down.
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