Trans Man Wins Major Workplace Discrimination Case in China

A Chinese court has ruled that a trans man, known as “Mr. C,” faced unlawful discrimination at the hands of his employers.

As Care2 previously reported, in 2016, the man was fired from his job at health company Ciming Checkup just a week into his employment. He believed that he was improperly dismissed for no other reason than being a transgender man and filed a civil rights suit. 

More than two years later, an appeals court has now ruled in the man’s favor and acknowledged the anti-trans discrimination he suffered.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Mr. C said:

Short of a formal apology from Ciming, I think this lawsuit has achieved its purpose. It’s never been about money. We hope, through this case, people in similar situations will realize they have a right, and we hope it will eventually result in a workplace anti-discrimination law.

Mr. C Gives a Voice to Trans Chinese

Following his dismissal, Mr. C took the matter before arbitration council, but the council maintained that he had been terminated over not having “adequate skills.” Seeing this as thinly veiled discrimination, Mr. C then filed a lawsuit.

This lawsuit represented a first-of-its kind test case for China, which does not have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

In January of this year, the Guiyang Yunyan district court agreed that Mr. C had been unfairly terminated. It ordered Cirming to pay Mr. C a sum of 843 yuan — about $121 — in wages, as well as compensation of 1,500 yuan — about $236. However, the court stopped short of stating that this discrimination was on the grounds of Mr. C’s trans identity.

Mr. C was not satisfied with this conclusion, so he appealed.

The appeals court agreed that the lower court had made the wrong decision in not recognizing the identity discrimination present in Mr. C’s dismissal. In addition to upping the amount of money he would receive to 4,000 yuan — $630 – the court specifically ruled that gender identity should not be a reason to lawfully terminate someone’s employment:

An individual’s gender identity and gender expression falls within the protection of general personality rights, [everyone] should respect others’ rights to gender identity and expression. Workers should not experience differential treatment based on their gender identity and expression.

This decision appears to set a precedent that could help other LGBT people achieve justice if they too are discriminated against at the hands of their employers.

As Mr. C has made clear throughout the court case, though, this legal ruling cannot replace LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

China Still Faces Significant Hurdles

Even in light of this major victory, China continues to maintain an uneasy relationship with its LGBT community.

Operating under a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” social taboo, the country is generally permissive of discreet relationships between same-gender people — so long as they continue to follow tradition in public. This manifests in several ways, including China’s notorious problem with women being married – sometimes forcibly — to openly gay men.

Meanwhile, public recognition of same-gender relationships or affirmation of gender identity remains taboo in many parts of the country. Courts have consistently ruled against a right to same-gender marriage. Chinese censors are also infamously rigid about banning same-gender relationships and LGBT issues as a whole from the media spotlight. Last year officials also moved to prevent homosexuality from being discussed in China’s online sphere, provoking fierce criticism from wider civil rights groups.

Despite these restrictions, court cases challenging the practice of gay conversion therapy have generally been successful, and the courts appear to be interpreting Chinese law in a more LGBT-inclusive manner.

China’s lawmakers will eventually need to act to protect LGBT rights. And while that doesn’t seem likely in the short term, cases like Mr. C’s will continue the march toward progress.

Photo Credit: Philip Jagenstedt/Flickr


Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Lesa D
Past Member about a year ago


thank you Steve...

Elaine W
Elaine Wabout a year ago

This is great news.

Past Member about a year ago


Gino C
Past Member about a year ago

thank you

Past Member about a year ago


Alanna R
Alanna Rabout a year ago

I'm really proud of China for this. I hope they continue to do such things in the future.

Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

Thank you for posting!

DAVID fleming
Past Member about a year ago


Lisa M
Lisa Mabout a year ago