I Felt Shocked When…
Just a short post today to announce that Western trannies have invaded China! Yippee-ki-fucking-yay!!!
Let’s backtrack a bit.
I recently administered some final oral language examinations to two of my classes: some tourism majors. Most of them did okay. The exams weren’t so hard.
One of the questions had to do with using -ed and -ing adjectives correctly (e.g., bored vs boring), which is a common error for Chinese speakers because they use the same word for both in their language. So basically, on the exam, I give them four words and ask them to choose two and give me two good examples that demonstrates correct usage and an understanding of the vocabulary.
One of my students chose the word ‘shocked’ from the list and came up with the following:
“I felt shocked when I visited Guilin and saw a Western man wearing a dress.”
I broke character (objective examiner) and responded with “Really???” I wanted to know if the example was true or just created for the purpose of answering the question. Apparently, it was a true story.
It is possible that the person she saw was just some hippie or queer dude wearing, not a dress, but a man-skirt or a sarong. But she said ‘dress’ which opens up the possibility of a male of a different flavour. While it’s hard for me to imagine a trannie or cross-dresser going to a place as conservative and gender-conforming as China, at the same time, this kind of guy loves the idea of pushing boundaries and being presented with opportunities for confrontation and self-righteous anger expression. Western dudes flock to developing countries and loudly rage at local people for not having their Western male ways catered to. I can imagine a trannie being in heaven here, spewing at everyone for staring at him in horror and fascination.
I will say, the Chinese do have a fascination for the Kathoey – or Thai ‘ladyboys’. Many Chinese want to go to Thailand specifically to see these guys in action. It’s not something they would allow here – at least outside of the entertainment industry – but is considered to be humourous and safely shocking to see this kind of thing in a weird foreign country. For some reason, though, the Western explosion in male trans politics is relatively unheard of in China, and to have one show up here would be rather sensational, and not in a good way. Unlike ladyboys, most Western trannies aren’t pretty or, most importantly, delicate. They would bring a whole different level of weird – of the unacceptable kind.
To preserve the ignorance of Chinese students, I, as an actual Western person, am not allowed to teach the official, curriculum-mandated Western culture classes here in China. Only Chinese people – especially those who have never left China, it seems – are allowed to teach this subject. Imagine in your country, barring your foreign national Chinese staff from teaching Chinese culture to university students, and forcing locals who have never even left the country to teach it instead. Laughable, yes? It’s like me teaching a semester-long class on Afghan culture – a place I’ve never been and know nothing about. I occasionally debate about discussing some of the weirder aspects of Western culture that don’t make it into the highly censored Chinese media outlets. Not sure whether I would do it.