China’s leading sexologist Li Yinhe has revealed her 17-year-old relationship to a transgender man in response to an article that had alleged that she was a lesbian. The bombshell revelation has been shared more than 50,000 times since it was posted on Sina Weibo and sparked an intense discussion about China’s transgender community.
In a scathing attack on the life and work of the outspoken but intensely private academic, a heretofore unknown commentator by the name of Liu Chang’an charged that Li was a lesbian that was “cohabiting for many years with a ‘tomboy’.” He also wondered aloud if the boy adopted by Li and her partner was “incapable of socialising with his peers and of attending school” because of the “abnormal family environment” he grew up in. Li has “deceived the entire nation” about her sexual orientation because “licentiousness is the domain of homosexuals”, and that Li’s promotion of libertarian sexual mores over the years was because of her “insecurity” and her need for “affirmation of her sexual orientation”. Now the whole world would see that “the emperor has no clothes”, he charged.
“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,” wrote Li Yinhe, “but since someone has made such vicious allegations, I will have to set the record straight.” She later went on to reveal how she met her current partner, a female-to-male transgender taxi driver, after her husband, the renowned novelist Wang Xiaobo, passed away in 1997 from a heart attack.
“I am indeed a heterosexual, not a homosexual,” she wrote. “I have no interest at all in the female body.”
“My partner was born as a female, but identifies as a male. He is only able to fall in love with heterosexual women, not homosexual women.”
The two have since been living together for 17 years, and have also adopted a child that was abandoned by his biological parents. “I am not a fan of kids, so with Xiaobo, we chose not to have kids, but [my current partner] likes kids, and so we decided to adopt a child from the Children’s Welfare Institute,” she explained. “He may not have the IQ of a normal child, but he’s an adorable, kind-hearted and loveable boy.”
“At 14 years of age, he’s still only in Primary 5, while his peers have already gone on to middle school,” she added. “I always encourage him with the example of Chen Zhangliang. Apparently he only attended first grade at 9 years of age, but look at him, isn’t he a great social scientist now?”
In an addendum to the article, Li wrote, “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.”
While Li Yinhe’s frank, heartfelt revelation was met with scorn and derision in some quarters, it also won her the support of various opinion leaders, including actress Yao Chen and media mogul Hung Huang, who both reposted Li’s Weibo with messages of support.
Commentator Lian Peng wrote, “If you’ve been together for 17 years, you deserve the blessings whether you’re heterosexual, homosexual, or whatever-sexual you may be.”
“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,” wrote the People’s Daily on its official Weibo page. “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.”