Up close with Joanne Leung Wing-yan, a transsexual

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 September, 2010, 12:00am

Young Post: What's the difference between 'transgender' and 'transsexual'?

Joanne Leung: Transgender individuals believe their gender at birth is not a correct or complete description of what they feel. A transsexual is someone who has undergone a sex-change operation or would like to have surgery or other treatments so that they will feel comfortable under their new gender.

YP: When did you know you wanted to be a woman?

JL: Many transsexuals feel they do not relate to their [biological] gender from a very young age but do not fight against it. I first realised this when I was about 10 years old. At the time, it was just a thought and I didn't think about a sex-change operation.

YP: Why did you decide to undergo sex-change surgery?

JL: It's a long story. I went through a lot of struggles and there was a lot of conflict in my mind. Our society does not accept our decision [of a sex change] and it is considered 'abnormal'. But when I couldn't fight the idea anymore, I decided to have the surgery.

YP: How did your friends and family feel after you had your sex-change operation?

JL: Most of my friends accepted it and supported me. Only a few could not understand my decision and I explained it to them.

As for my family, my mother was worried that the operation would affect my health.

My sister was fine with my decision but felt a little uncomfortable. After the surgery, they accepted my new gender.

YP: Has your sex change made it difficult for you at work or affected your daily life?

JL: So far, I have not faced any difficulties. I just quit my job, but my boss and colleagues knew about my sex change and did not have a problem with it.

YP: Do you think transgender and transsexual people are a minority in Hong Kong?

JL: Yes, definitely. It's hard to estimate how many there are because they don't go public, but it's a very small number. Compared to homosexuals, we are even more of a minority. Our voices had been rarely heard until W's case was exposed.

YP: Do you want society to learn about transsexuals? How should it be done?

JL: The aim of ILGA is to educate the public about who we are. We have been working hard on this over the past few years. We hope to slowly cultivate an unbiased perception of transgender and transsexual people through the media. In the near future, we hope to share our experiences with secondary school students. Also, we would like to help transsexuals to feel comfortable about their new identity.