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China still does not understand: a Weibo debate over US teen sex swap couple

Arin Andrews and Katie Hill, the teen sex swap couple whose story is made known to the world by the UK tabloid The Sun on July 22, is generating a debate on Weibo, China’s biggest social microblogging platform where many people simply could not understand why they have to “go through the trouble”.

Arub and Katie, the teen couple that has become a hot topic on Weibo. Photo:

The story has been translated and run by many major Chinese media outlets, including the official press agency Xinhua and website of the Chinese Communist Party 's official newspaper  People’s Daily Online, both made the mistake of taking the couple as UK citizens who are in fact from Tulsa in the US.

The story became famous on Weibo on July 26 through a post by @这里是美国, the official Weibo of’s US correspondent station, which quickly caught the attention of the Weibo users and shot to the list of Hot Weibos.

It was not the confusion over the couple’s nationality that befuddled the Chinese, rather why they bothered to make the transformation. It seems the very concept of “transgender” is lost to the majority of the Chinese Weibo users, which is somewhat unexpected since most of them are young people who are supposed to be more savvy and open-minded.

“A boy and a girl at first, and a boy and a girl in the end. What’s the point?” asked a bewildered Weibo user. Another agreed, “It’s like driving in circles and end up at the same point. Why bother?” One user wondered, “I guess even if they didn’t change their gender, they will fall in love anyways.”

Some Chinese are obsessed with details such as Arin’s abdomen hair and Katie’s Adam’s apple. Some are more interested with the “technical” problems such as whether the couple can have sex as normal and who will carry the baby, should they decide to have one.

And of course many simply cannot wrap their head around the situation as one left a comment saying: “This world is simply crazy! OK. I admit I cannot understand (why they did this).”

The Chinese reaction to the news is not at all surprising considering China is still a largely conservative country when it comes to sex. However, this is not to say that the Chinese are free from having such problems. As a matter of fact, there have been at least a dozen or so sex swap cases covered in great detail by the Chinese media since the turn of this century.

A Chinese report in 2007 said that over 1,000 people had received the gender reassignment surgery and there were over 400,000 people who wants to change their sex in China.

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