Welcome to Zhēnde Gender

I am a queer feminist anthropologist passionate about challenging binary gender norms, combatting sexism and fighting for equal rights for women around the world. I have been writing about gender and sexuality for seven years. Feminist issues take priority in my reading and research. I have lived in mainland China and South Korea, and have travelled extensively in South East Asia, including a series of research trips to Burma (Myanmar). 

It all began when I started writing updates for friends and family when I moved to Seoul in 2011. After I moved to Beijing in 2014, the site gradually evolved as I learned more about the challenges Chinese women and girls face on a daily basis.  

Zhēnde Gender aims to explore the multiple realities of culture, gender and sexuality in contemporary Asia.

真的? Zhēn de? translates as “really?” When I found myself using the phrase “Zhēn de?” increasingly in relation to women’s rights, sexism and other gender-related issues in China, I decided I had to start writing about these problems with a specific focus on Asia.

In the first year I lived in China, these were some of the facts I couldn’t believe were true:

The Chinese pronoun for ‘wife’ (fūrén) translates as ‘husband’s person’. Zhēn de? 

Chinese clinics still offer ‘electroshock’ gay conversion therapy. Many gay men and lesbian women commit to fake marriages to disguise their true sexuality. Zhēn de? 

13 million abortions are performed every year in China. 60% of abortions are performed on unmarried women under the age of 26. Zhēn de? 

真 Zhēn is Mandarin for ‘real’, ‘true’ or ‘genuine’

Zhēn de is pronounced jen-duh.* The Chinese phrase rhymes closely with the English word gender. Put the Chinese and English side by side, and you have “real gender”.

Zhēnde Gender embraces the space-time compression offered by online spaced to communicate across multiple timezones and contribute to global discussion of culture and gender.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. If you enjoy my work, please consider becoming a patron of Zhende Gender by making regular or one-off contributions.


* Mandarin is a tonal language, so the pitch of the voice changes the meaning.  An accurate pronunciation can be rendered by saying jen in a high, unchanging tone, and the duh with no tone. To hear a correct pronunciation by a native speaker, please follow this link.