skip to content

The Subversion and Submission of Transgender
An Analysis of Media’s Representation of Trans Personality Jin Xing

20 September 2019, Cologne, Germany

Peiqin Zhou, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nanjing University

Short Bio:
Peiqin Zhou is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Nanjing University, where she has been working since 2004. She received a bachelor degree in Chinese Language and Literature and a master degree in Mass Communication at Nanjing University. She received her Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Alabama, the U.S., in 2003. Her teaching and research interests are mainly in mass communication and gender studies. She has done research on media content analyses and movie receptions in China. Her recent research is more focused on gender studies, including college women’s space use in recently built suburban campuses, infant rearing from the perspective of the transition of the family structure and intensive mothering, the reception of Danmei (Boys Love) stories by girls. She was a Fulbright scholar in the academic year of 2009 to 2010 at Drake University. In the past few years, she has been the Dean’s Assistant of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and has visited many international universities in Europe, North America and Australia. She is also the Director of the Visual and Audio Lab, which is set up for the development of Visual Sociology and Visual Anthropology at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nanjing University.

Few studies have been conducted on representations of transgender individuals in China. This study focuses on transgender TV host Jin Xing, who “came out” to the Chinese public about 20 years ago. To much of the Chinese audience, Jin Xing may be only referential standard of transgenderism. For this reason, it is important to examine the implications of Jin Xing's gendered performance. The analysis reveals that Jin Xin’s gendered performance brings together subversive and submissive elements. Specifically speaking, subversion is articulated through her transgenderism, her stable and energetic public life, her confident and healthy image, and her piquant charm; on the other hand, her strong beholding of the binary gender system, her belief in women as objects of men’s sexual desire, and her traditional attitude toward marriage and parenthood seem to indicate a more submissive stand. The paper further points out that the theory of transnormativity can help to interpret the contradictions in Jin Xin’s gendered performance, and her hyper-femininity. There is no doubt that Jin Xing's transgender media image does encourage more liberal and diversified gender practices in China; on the other hand, the gendered image she promotes is in many ways detrimental to the improvement of women's status. Mass media should allow the audience to realize that Jin Xing is both a pioneer and a conservative on gender issues.

Venue: University of Cologne, Seminargebäude, R. S 25, Albertus-Magnus-Platz

Roberta Zavoretti
University of Cologne /
Global South Studies Center