Research out of the Chinese University and the Transgender Resources Centre suggests more than half of Hong Kong’s transgender population has experienced some form of discrimination in the past 12 months, with experts saying authorities need to take immediate action to prevent unfair treatment.
The head of the university’s Sexualities Research Programme, Suen Yiu-tung, said over 51 percent of the 234 transgender people they surveyed in 2019 and 2020 said they had faced discrimination in employment, education, or the provision of goods and services.
For example, four out of 10 said they had been questioned before attempting to use a public toilet. Besides being asked if they were “using the wrong toilet”, many also said they were verbally abused or stopped from using the facilities.
“I feel that in a society that is more friendly, the percentage should be zero,” Suen said. “But unfortunately the numbers are far from zero percent.”
Suen said that, as a result, many of the respondents had never used a toilet that matched their self-identified gender.
The academic said there should be more gender-neutral or accessible toilets.
Suen also said authorities should tackle gender discrimination, as unfair treatment was taking a toll on transgender people’s mental health.
He said 40 percent of interviewees showed moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
Suen urged the government to relax physical requirements for changing one’s gender on official documents, saying less than six percent of transgender people in Hong Kong have been able to change their gender on their identity cards.
Hong Kong requires people to undergo sex reassignment surgery before they are issued a new ID card that reflects their gender.
Suen said many people are unwilling to undergo the surgery, with some citing concerns about the risk of extensive surgery and others pointing to the cost.