In the summer of 1953, the United Daily News (聯合報) in Taiwan announced the sex change surgery of the “first” Chinese transsexual, Xie Jianshun (謝尖順). Xie's story soon triggered an avalanche of media sensationalism in postwar Taiwan. This article adds greater historical depth to this episode of trans-culturation by examining other accounts of unusual bodily condition that the press brought to light in response to Xie's story. The author focuses on examples of “trans” formation that made explicit reference to Xie, especially during moments when Xie and her doctors intentionally withheld information from the public. Of particular interest are stories of gender transgression, defects of the reproductive system, uncommon problems related to pregnancy, the marriages of individuals with cross-gender identification, transsexual childbirth, human intersexuality, and sex metamorphosis itself, emanating from both domestic contexts and abroad. These stories provide crucial evidence for the growing frequency of sex-change-related discussions in Chinese-speaking communities in the immediate post–World War II era. Additionally, this essay has one broader aim: to offer a historiographical framework in which these stories of trans formation could be adequately appreciated. The second half of this article contextualizes them within the field of Sinophone postcolonial studies, demonstrating their broader historical import in terms of new analytic angles, new chronologies, and new theoretical vocabularies. The “Sinophone world” refers to Sinitic-language communities and cultures situated outside China or on the margins of China and Chineseness. By contesting the epistemic status of the West as the ultimate arbiter in queer historiography, the history of trans formations in Sinophone Taiwan offers an axial approach to provincializing China, Asia, and “the rest.”

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.