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Welcome to the Transgender ASIA Research Centre. The Centre seeks to bring together psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, as well as medical and legal experts who share a desire to better understand the phenomenon of transgenderism, as well as the circumstances in which transpeople (transgendered people) live, in Asia.  This website aims to promote and disseminate research and understanding of, as well as contributing towards efforts to effect social change in regard to, transgenderism in Asia. 

A definition of transgender (TG)

Transgender ASIA defines transpeople as those males or females of any age who are unhappy living in the gender identity ascribed to them at birth. They have perhaps  assumed a full-time alternative gender identity. Alternatively they intend to do so, or would do so if circumstances allowed.  The essential feature here is identity; the sense, for example, of being born male but feeling female (or indeed a member of a third gender). Sexual preference is irrelevant. Used in this way the term transgenderism is broadly synonymous with transsexualism (though this term is commonly limited to those transpeople who seek or undergo genital surgery).

Modern Western psychiatry regards transpeople as suffering from Gender Identity Disorder. But TransgenderASIA shares the view that transgenderism is simply one aspect of human diversity. It is a difference not a disorder.  Transpeople are no more mad than they are bad or sad. While transpeople, like everyone else, may suffer problems of adjustment, those suffered by transpeople most commonly arise out of the intolerance of those around them to their gender diversity. If we can speak of any gender identity disorder at all, it is in the inability of many societies to accept the particular gender identity difference we call transgenderism. 

Why a need to study Asian transgender?

Research in transgenderism is mostly Western. Some years ago Sam Winter examined the humanities and social sciences literature on transpeople. Of 235 key publications on transgenderism in the period 1992 to 2002 around 41% were European and 48% were North American, a total of 89% from two parts of the world that account for only 20% of its population. Only seven per cent were from Asia.(search details)

In many of the 46 countries across the continent we find that transgenderism is an aspect of modern society; in some a very open and vibrant aspect, in others less so. We suggest that Asian transpeople probably comprise both a majority within the world at large, as well as a markedly under-researched group.    

Asia embraces a wide variety of ethnic groups, religions, cultures, as well as social, legal and economic circumstances in which the practising transperson must live. As a result, we cannot assume that research done in the developed societies of North America, Europe and Australia can inevitably enhance our understanding of transgenderism in Asia. 

Most Asian societies are characterised by low levels of violence against transpeople. this aside, transpeople often face daily prejudice and discrimination, suffer great intolerance and hardship, become more socially marginalised (even excluded) and have to endure more frequent and fundamental affronts to dignity and human rights, than do their peers in the developed world. In many Asian societies they have less protection under the law.

For all these reasons, there is a great need for more research into, understanding of and social action for transgenderism in Asia. Transgender ASIA aims to facilitate all three.



For more information on the Asian transgender experience see Winter, S. (2009). Lost in transition: transpeople, transprejudice and pathology in Asia. International Journal of Human Rights, 13, 2/3, 357-382.

For research on the way in which the pathologisation of gender identity difference prompts or supports transprejudice see: Winter, S., Chalungsooth,P., Teh,Y.K., Rojanalert,N.,  Maneerat,K., Wong,Y.W., Beaumont,A., Ho,M.W.,L., Gomez,F. and Macapagal, R.A.   (2009). Transpeople, transprejudice and pathologisation: a seven-country factor analytic study. International Journal of Sexual Health, 21, 2, 96-118.

For ideas on how the Asian transgender experience might inform changes in standards for healthcare for transpeople worldwide see Winter, S. (2009) Cultural considerations for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's (WPATH) Standards of Care: the Asian perspective. International Journal of Transgenderism, 11, 1, 19-41.

We invite you to make contact to enquire about the Centre or to ask to join  our mailing list to receive prompt information on updates through your e mail. 




Disclaimer: We make efforts to avoid linking to any sites carrying material that might, for any reason,  be considered offensive. However, the nature of websites is that they can be very extensive and can change on a daily basis. We cannot therefore be held responsible for any links that turn out to lead to offensive material. In the event that such material is found please inform us so that we can examine whether we need to take the link down. 

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