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Approaching Transnational Chinese Queer Stardom as Zhongxing ('Neutral Sex/Gender') Sensibility

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>East Asian Journal of Popular Culture
Issue number1
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)75-95
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


A generation of female queer stars has emerged in post-millennial transnational Chinese popular culture. They have amassed many female followers. Among these stars are Mainland China’s Chris Lee, Hong Kong’s Denise Ho and Taiwan’s Jing Chang. These celebrities are often characterized as ‘zhongxing’, which literally means ‘neutral sex and/or gender’, because of their non-normative gender and ambiguous sexual representation. This article aims to develop a lens to approach this emergence of queer stars and its sociocultural implications. Considering the genealogy of zhongxing and its historical relevance and taking on the reflections of Anglo-American queer theory, this article justifies the use of zhongxing over the usual English term ‘androgyny’. Recent media scholarship on Chinese queer stardom has provided an insightful entry point to this phenomenon. In this article, zhongxing is conceptualized as a sensibility for its liminal status as a non-identity category and non-sexual practice. It is ambiguous but also gradually being stabilized and shaped as specific forms of embodiment, a quest for individuality and reflexive authenticity, and an emerging queer feeling. The potentiality of zhongxing sensibility, as suggested by preliminary interview data, invites further research in the affective texture of everyday life and the transforming contours of gender and sexuality in transnational Chinese societies.