故事FM is the best Chinese podcast.
In their latest ep director Jia Yuchuan tells the story of Li Ermao, a transgender person for whom life has never shown mercy.
Jia made a documentary about Ermao. But they would never see it.
A thread for Ermao:
Ermao was born a boy in a rural family in Sichuan in 1978.
His father was executed for human trafficking when he was 8. His mother remarried.
He went to Chongqing with his cousin & collected scraps to make a living.
When Jia Yuchuan met Ermao in 2003 in Shenzhen,
he was a drag performer.
He was quite popular in the newly emerged gay bars in Shenzhen, until one day other performers tried to rob him, because there was rumor he had 500k yuan in saving.
Actually he only had 5000.
He had to run. He ran to Hainan and returned to
Shenzhen a lady in 2005.
She had a new boyfriend Xiaojiang. She became a superstar now, claiming to be a "ladyboy" from Thailand, speaking Cantonese.
But soon she lost everything again.
She wanted to have sex reassignment surgery but didn't have enough money.
Her boyfriend was a chauffeur for a "laoban" businessman. They tried to get him to sponsor Ermao, but turned out he was a fraud. Ermao then was scammed by a company that claimed to cast her in a film.
She broke up with Xiaojiang. Changed from one place to another,
one boyfriend to another, withdrew to herself.
She then met Xiaolong, a person she truly loved and another unfortunate soul.
From a young age Xiaolong's older brother used him as the bait for scamming. He made him act as a prostitute and then the brother would break in and
blackmail the client when they were "doing it".
They wanted to scam Ermao. But after Ermao told Xiaolong her story he was moved. They were both 沦落人 & were attracted to each other.
Xiaolong's brother went to jail. Xiaolong used the 20k yuan saving he got from scamming to
buy an aircon, computer & fridge to live with Ermao.

In 2008, Ermao's stepfather told her that the homestead land 宅基地 she's entitled to was gonna be taken away. She must go back to deal with this. She thought that with that piece of land she'd be able to afford the surgery.
Ermao and Xiaolong went to Sichuan together.
Ermao was laughed at & bullied by fellow villagers.

She now just wanted to be a peasant and live a good life with Xiaolong. They were hard working and had a poultry farming plan. Ermao thought they could make some money from raising
chickens and then have her surgery done. Then they could officially get married. She saw a wedding ceremony in the village and was fascinated. she said to Xiaolong: "when we get married I want a wedding bigger than this".
But they couldn't be accepted. They were ousted by the
whole village. She lost her homestead land too.

From here I'm going to use "they" as Ermao's pronoun.
They had no choice but to return to Shenzhen. They found a job in a factory. Now Ermao doesn't want to have sex surgery anymore, or be a performer.
They just want to live an ordinary life with Xiaolong. But they can't live with Xiaolong as they can't stay in either male or female dormitory.
Ermao had to wrap their breasts everyday to hide them. But still one day Ermao's secret was discovered.
They were beaten up badly by co-workers.
They wanted to have the implants removed and Jia Yuchuan helped them find a hospital.
Ermao said: "I found out I'm nothing, neither man nor woman. And people treat me the same way, neither as a man nor a woman.
Now I've realized it doesn't matter, being a man or woman. None of these matters. It's time to take the fake things out".

Before the surgery Ermao did their last performance as "ladyboy". They sang Anita Mui's "Song of the sunset" 夕阳之歌 and cried.
After the performance, Ermao was told that they were likely HIV positive.
Ermao disappeared the next day.

Jia Yuchuan's documentary about Ermao was shortlisted in the Amsterdam film festival in August 2019.
He wanted to invite them to the red carpet.
Because for so many years Ermao dreamed of becoming a star.
But he couldn't find them. Ermao died in a rented room in their hometown 5 months earlier.

In March 2017 Ermao called Jia after finally removing the implants:
"I've finally become a man again. ...Generally speaking, other people can only live one life. I've lived two lives, kind of worth it. But if you ask me if I have any regrets, more or less."

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More from @chenchenzh

4 Sep
the lesser known gender dimension of the (colonial) migration to Xinjiang in the early years of the PRC. a thread.
After the republic was founded, thousands of soldiers were placed in the region for defense & economic production purposes. There was a "problem". There were not
enough Han women for them to marry. This became a security & stability problem in the eyes of military leaders.
General Wang Zhen told the central govt that in order for soldiers (Han settlers) to really take root in the region, they need to have wives. With approval he began
to recruit women from other provinces, first from Hunan.
He wrote to the leader of Hunan prov, asking him to recruit young women for soldiers to marry: "need to have secondary education, unmarried, divorced OK too. Recruit them to XJ... reproduce the population".
Read 13 tweets
19 Aug
heartbreaking and outrageous story of a female scholar who committed suicide right after she got her PhD and about to start a new job. She had been a victim of long term sexual harassment from her supervisor at Zhejiang University. card.weibo.com/article/m/show…
Wang Xiaolei began her postgrad study in 2014. Her supervisor Dai Fei had been harassing her since 2016. After she told her then boyfriend about this, he wasn't sympathetic and they eventually broke up.
In August 2016 Dai took her to a 3 day conference in Tai'an. She went back
home after one day because Dai attempted to rape her in the hotel room.
She was afraid of speaking out bc she thought that would ruin her degree and career... She threatened him with telling his wife, that worked somewhat but didn't stop his sexual harassment completely.
Read 8 tweets
11 Aug
Her name is Tang Hui, from Yongzhou, Hunan. 8 years ago, 10 Aug 2012, the administrative decision to put her in "re-education through labour" (laogai) was repealed.
Illustration by artist Zhang Chenchu.
In Oct 2006, Tang Hui's 10yo daughter was kidnapped and taken to a brothel disguised as a "recreation centre". In the following two months she was forced to provide sexual service over 100 times. And was gang raped.
After the daugter was rescued, Tang Hui had to
fight tooth and nail for this case to be prosecuted, because the local police and the brothel were connected.
Apart from the 7 principal offenders, Tang Hui wanted the 100+ clients who raped her daugter (including police officers) to be indicted. But the prosecutor refused.
Read 8 tweets
25 Jun
Someone left a note as a "Hubei peasant worker" to the Dongguan (Guangdong) library😭
"I've lived in Dongguan for 17 years and been visiting this library for 12 years. Books make one wise and sensible. Now the pandemic has made many businesses shut down. As a peasant worker
"I have no choice but to go back home. When I think about all these years living here, the best place is this library. No matter how much I want to stay, I'm forced by life to leave. I will never forget you, Dongguan library, for the rest of my life. I wish you prosperity
"and success. Please continue to benefit Dongguan and migant workers.
from a Hubei peasant worker"
h/t @tingguowrites
original post on Douban
Read 6 tweets
22 Jun
this is censored now.
author is a researcher from the Centre for Rural Governance at Wuhan University who did fieldwork in several places in Shandong, incl my hometown.
I saw many of these so-called "new villages" on my way home last year.
this link seems still working at the moment.
this 合村并居 project is about resettling rural residents from naturally formed villages & their homes to these artificial "new villages" or 社区. It's yet another programme that claims to be bringing "civilized" living to the rural area without respecting ppl's rights & choice. Image
Read 7 tweets

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