Converting the Converters: Advocates in China Make the Case for LGBT-Affirming Mental Health Care


In an office tower in the western city of Xi’an, a lesbian woman in her 30s, who I’ll call “Xiu Ying,” sat in a conference room surrounded by psychological counselors peppering her with questions. What do your parents think? What is online dating like for lesbians? Can you explain the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity again? The counselors weren’t subjecting Xiu to some strange therapy session. Rather, she had come to counsel the counselors. As part of a two-day forum in July 2018 run by the Zhuangni LGBT Mental Health Center for LGBT-friendly counselors from across China, members of the country’s LGBT community facilitated small discussion groups, patiently answering questions from the dozens of curious (and mostly cisgender and straight) attendees.

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