Sociologists disagree over burgeoning transvestite phenomenon

09:16, May 26, 2010      

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A transvestite, or weiniang, refers to a man who dresses like a woman and who prides himself on looking beautiful and sexy.

Weiniang Liu Zhu

An online "weiniang" forum has now appeared on baidu. com, China's leading search engine, with over 4,200 registered members by Wednesday.

The forum features a guide including the definition of a weiniang and how to become one.

Weiniang are welcomed in entertainment circles. Liu Zhu, 19, a sophomore student from Sichuan Conservatory of Music became famous for his weiniang style when he participated in the 2010 Super Boy series on Hunan Satellite TV.

Earlier this month, Liu was ranked in the top 50 in the Chengdu area for the Super Boy campaign. His success is attributed to his unique style.

"His high ranking is good for ratings and draws audience attention," Yan Lei, a director of the TV show, told Beijing-based newspaper The First. "But Liu is somewhat different from other weiniang. He is pure and has his own original work."

However, the weiniang phenomenon has sparked controversy. One view is that society should be more tolerant. Weiniang generally covers two categories in China. One is cross-gender performers and the other is transvestites, according to Li Yinhe, a sociologist of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The former has a long tradition in China. Artists, such as Mei Lanfang, are masters in Peking Opera. We should respect their art. For the latter, we should respect their personality," she told the Global Times Wednesday.

But some experts believe that weiniang impede on the healthy development of society.

"If the society turns a blind eye to the weiniang phenomenon, more and more young men will become more female, causing a lack of courage and spirit in enduring hardship," Hao Maishou, a professor at Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, told the Tianjin-based Metro Express on Thursday.

By Wen Ya Source: Global Times


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