Sex Expert's Secret Is Out, and China's Open to It

Published: March 6, 2015

The New York Times
Andrew Jacobs
Original Article:

“I find people here to be pretty accepting and open,” said Li Yinhe, left, a Chinese sexologist who announced that her partner was a transgender man. Credit Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

BEIJING — Li Yinhe, China’s leading advocate of freewheeling sexuality, has been shocking this outwardly prudish nation for three decades.

An American-trained sociologist, she promotes one-night stands, sings the praises of sadomasochist sex and has called on the government to decriminalize pornography. She is also a hero to gay and lesbian Chinese, having for years pushed a same-sex marriage bill in China’s legislature despite little chance of passage.

But in December, Professor Li, 63, who recently retired from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, reluctantly moved the nation to the threshold of a new frontier: transgender love.

After a blogger accused her of being a closeted lesbian, Professor Li shot back with a blog post announcing that her partner of 17 years, although born a woman, is a transgender man.

“I am a heterosexual woman who has fallen in love with a transsexual person,” wrote Professor Li, who was married to Wang Xiaobo, a well-known Chinese novelist, until his death in 1997. “I treat him as a man.”

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