Whenever I’d be hanging out with some group of artists or dancers, sitting around the remnants of dinner and drinking in one of those sultry Guangzhou nights, Jin Xing’s name would always seem come up. There’s very much a story for me there, the people who affected me that I suppose caused me to become what I am now. The admiration with which she was always held, how highly regarded she was in the world of Chinese contemporary dance and that she was also very publicly transsexual was not lost on me. I think especially because in a very real way she allowed me to imagine the possibilities in how I could continue to live. After hearing so much about her and meeting her a couple of times, it’s nice to read some of her life from her.
“You are sick, Jin Xing. Do it later, maybe. But look, women are fascinated by you, and men are intrigued. If you become a woman, women won’t want to be friends with you and guys won’t be turned on by you any more. And as far as men, real men, go… Do you think they’re going to want you? They want a natural woman, not… not…”
“A fake one? Is that what you want to say?”
Conversations on contemporary art in China that swung around to dance invariably brought mention of Shanghai choreographer and dancer Jin Xing. I seem to blog about her fairly often, and she seems also to receive frequent biography articles as she is something of a superstar.
“Becoming a charming woman, speaking foreign languages, marriage, having my own dance company, travelling all over the world, having beautiful children – it’s like a fantasy.”
It has been nearly 12 years since Jin smashed gender barriers in China by changing her sex to female in a procedure that nearly crippled her but fulfilled the deepest of her desires.
“When I was six years old I felt I had not been born in the right body,” Jin says. “I had an older sister and the way people looked and treated her – I felt that people should treat me like her.”
While her choreography has won her fame in her chosen profession, Jin Xing acknowledges that it was her sex change that propelled her to stardom, especially in China where sex is commonly a subject of embarrassment, and in public still downright taboo.
Having been through so much to achieve her goals, she cares little for the opinions and scepticism of others.
“Whether it is the dancer, choreographer, transsexual, or former military officer, it does not matter. I have so many identities from different perspectives. It does not make a complete person,” she says.
Late last year, former China reporter Seth Faison, who had been in the country on and off since the early 1980s published South of the Clouds: Exploring the Hidden Realms of China. Faison spoke with Bloomberg journalist and fellow Shanghai journalist, Alec McCabe about his time there and relationship with choreographer 金星 Jin Xing.