Introducing No Self ID Taiwan – The First (and only) Gender Critical Response to Female Erasure in the Nation

Originally written for and published at at their request.

My name is Jaclynn Joseph and I am an activist working in the field of women’s rights and gynocritical research. Originally from Hawai’i and now a permanent resident of Taiwan, I am a university lecturer, and a doctoral candidate in the field of Feminist Philosophy at Sofia University, Bulgaria. As a published writer featured on sites such as Feminist Current, Canada’s largest feminist news outlet, and a guest speaker for global women’s rights organizations like Women’s Declaration International, I have spent the past several years working to shine a light on the steady encroachment of gender ideology in Taiwan.

What’s Happening in Taiwan?

Taiwan’s story of democratic transition along with its awareness of liberal principles is fascinating. Over the years, this island nation has grown into one of the strongest liberal democracies in Asia. Since democratization began in the 1990s, democracy and respect for human rights have become an increasingly prominent part of the island’s identity and values. Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in May 2019. I was there at the marches, rallies, and the Pride Parades leading up to this monumental victory for equality. What marriage equality, the women’s rights movement, and the civil rights movement have in common is that they extended the rights of a privileged group to everyone.

When well-meaning people in Taiwan hear “trans rights,” they assume something similar is being demanded. But that isn’t the case. What campaigners mean by “trans rights” is the “right” to identify as the opposite sex — socially, legally, and in every other context. But, this isn’t a human right. It is not a human right to demand to be treated either socially or legally as female, if you are male. Women fought to have access to single-sex spaces, services, and opportunities — allowing males to access female-only spaces like change rooms, shelters, and prisons should not be framed as a human right. It is not a human right to endanger vulnerable women and girls. It is not a human right to require that everyone accept subjective beliefs as objective reality. It is a privilege to demand to be socially and legally treated as the opposite sex — to compel the speech and the actions of others.

What’s happening now in Taiwan is looking more and more like female erasure on par with what has been happening across North America. Starting in 2023, trans-identified student athletes can enter the Taiwan National High School Games – the largest multi-sport event for junior and senior high school players in Taiwan – as the “gender of their choice”. Meaning that male athletes who “feel” female can then compete in the female sport categories. The “eligibility rules and competition details have not yet been decided, however, as they have to be formulated by the National Sports Administration.” It has only recently come to light that a trans-identified male competed as a woman in Taiwan’s National Intercollegiate Athletic Games in 2018. Many runners and coaches from other schools knew this athlete was male, and representatives of Taiwan’s National Tsinghua University questioned his ability to compete against female athletes in track and field events, but because there were no clear rules for transgender participation in Taiwan, he was able to compete in the female division, destroying the previous record held by a woman. What does this mean for female athletes in Taiwan? As we have seen by the precedent set in North America, certainly nothing good. Scholarships, awards, accolades, opportunities, and access to a fair and level playing field are being taken away from young female athletes.

At National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) this year, the administration tried to sneak a trans-identified male student into female-only dorms. This student possessed all of his functional male genitalia and was meant to share a room with up to 5 female students in a small space with little privacy. Only after a whistleblower brought this to the attention of the mainstream media has this come under scrutiny. This marks not the first but the second time a major Taiwanese university (the first being National Taiwan University (NTU)) tried bringing a fully intact trans-identified male into girls’ dorms without informing anyone or receiving consent. In fact, the former Dean, Feng Yan, admitted that she did “secretly” assist several trans-identified students when she served as the Dean of National Taiwan University from August 2005 to July 2012. These students were housed in single-sex dormitories that aligning to their birth sex, and all students within the dormitory itself were not asked for their consent to cohabitate with members of the opposite sex.

In 2021, a biological male who had undergone so-called “sex reassignment surgery” applied for Taiwan’s menstrual leave, despite not being in posession of the female anatomy required to actually menstruate. In Taiwan, the Act of Gender Equality in Employment gives women three days of “menstrual leave” per year, which will not be calculated toward the 30 days of “common sick leave”, giving women up to 33 days of “health-related leaves’’ per year. No access to menstrual hygiene is the fifth biggest killer of women in the world. It’s extremely offensive for a male to attempt to claim to have had his “period”. Women are still dying in places where simply having your period is considered taboo. Thankfully, for now, Taiwan rejects this as impossible and irrational…but how long will they hold out? In Taiwan’s courtrooms, the battle has begun over the easing of restrictions in law for changing ones legal sex. Cases were filed in the Constitutional Court last December in an attempt to reinterpret whether the process of self-ID in the country is constitutional, and whether people should be allowed by simple self-declaration to change their legal sex.

Why is Pushing Back Important? is the first website in East Asia to be written entirely in English (and the only such website in Taiwan) and dedicated to pushing back against gender ideology, protecting women’s sex based rights, and tracking changes in the law regarding self-ID. The website,, became necessary after the creation of two anti self-ID petitions submitted to the Taiwanese government through the government petition platform from October to November of 2021, as there was not enough space for all the important news related to self-ID. Both petitions surpassed the 5,000 signatures required from Taiwanese citizens or permanent residents of Taiwan in order for the government to review it and reply to it publicly. The government will now have to publicly address concerns regarding self-ID that were expressed in both petitions.

This group of activists, whom I am proud to call my friends and to work side by side with, have largely stood alone amongst Taiwan organizations in their openly-expressed commitment to maintaining single-sex services. They volunteer their time to maintain both a Chinese language and an English language version of the website and to spread awareness to as many as possible.

They have been profoundly disappointed by those so-called women’s rights groups, service providers, and second-tier organizations in Taiwan – particularly those who claim to support abused women and girls – which have failed to speak up for women or overlooked women’s needs in an impulsive, well-intentioned but ultimately unthinking attempt to appear inclusive. Gender identity is not easy to define, let alone prove, yet legislators in Taiwan are contemplating making changing your legal sex easier than ever. How we define “women” is crucial to many issues including the gathering of data around crime, employment, pay and health statistics, and the monitoring of sex-based discrimination such as the gender pay gap.

“The website is the only one of its kind, and serves as the most comprehensive site on the history, status, and impact of self-ID legislation in Taiwan. It’s a one-stop source of dozens of translated articles and news on self-ID from all over the world, providing first-hand self-ID resources, as the mainstream media tends to omit or even block this news”, says one of the hardworking volunteers who maintains the website. The volunteers who help maintain the site – all of whom are Taiwanese citizens – wish to remain anonymous, fearing for their jobs and personal attacks on their businesses or families should their names become known.

The people writing stories for the site and gathering data range from doctors, teachers, law school graduates, to computer engineers, university students, housewives, and mothers-to-be. They are concerned men and women, many from the gay and lesbian community in Taiwan, providing varying views from different perspectives on how self-ID would impact them. The website features news stories, government research, statistics, and pieces written by Taiwanese citizens who worry about how self-ID will affect their female family members. One of the most powerful articles published recently on the site featured the story of a concerned mother and her anxieties about her daughter’s future should self-ID come to pass. My own work, originally published on Feminist Current and on my personal website, has also been shared on the No Self ID Taiwan site.

No Self ID Taiwan – How Can You Support Them?

The acceptance of and legislating around gender identity ideology is happening at a very rapid pace in the country I call home, and I am thankful that more people are waking up to the dangers this poses and creating sites like No Self ID Taiwan. The site is constantly updated and will continue to serve as an important asset in the future to protect women’s rights and stand against self-ID.

The site is looking for writers to contribute pieces related to gender ideology and self-ID in Taiwan, and this may be done anonymously. Run by a group of passionate volunteers who have day jobs, it needs sponsorship and funding to keep it running smoothly. Your donations would go a long way in fighting gender ideology and protecting the sex-based rights of women and girls in Taiwan. So would sharing the website with your friends, family, and on your social media!

On International Women’s Day I Ask Taiwanese Media: Why Are You Silencing Women?

Speaking up for women being silenced

The following letter was sent out today to English and Chinese news outlets in Taiwan who have covered issues related to self-ID and gender ideology, but have not provided a feminist perspective, interviewed concerned women and their allies on the issue, or provided any balanced coverage showing the amble opposition to legislation working to disenfranchise women. Let’s see what they have to say (and all responses will be posted here.) Copies of the letter will be translated into Chinese.

Happy International Women’s Day to women around the world who continue to inspire me. Women of Taiwan, you are courageous. I see you, I hear you, I’m with you.

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”
― Audre Lorde

In honor of International Women’s Day, held on March 8th, I am writing to various news outlets in Taiwan with the hope of receiving a response on why women’s voices have been silenced with regard to the issue of Self-ID laws.

I am doctoral fellow pursuing a PhD in feminist philosophy at Sofia University, Bulgaria, a published writer with a Master’s degree in Global Governance from a Taiwanese university, and am lucky enough to call Taiwan home as a permanent resident. I am a guest writer for Canada’s largest feminist news outlet, Feminist Current, and have had several articles published discussing the dangers of Taiwan Self-ID laws and the encroaching threat from gender ideology. I have been a panelist and guest speaker for one of the world’s largest women’s rights organizations, Women’s Human Rights Campaign, speaking on the topic of Taiwan and gender ideology.

In September of 2021, the Taipei High Administrative Court issued a ruling allowing a trans-identified male calling himself “Xiao E (小E)” to change his legal sex to female without sex reassignment surgery — the first ruling of its kind. Until then, individuals could not change their sex on an ID card unless they provided medical certificates confirming a diagnoses of gender dysphoria and proof of a sex change operation. Taiwan’s highest administrative branch (the Executive Yuan) funded research on public opinion regarding sex self-ID, conducted via an online questionnaire that was nearly impossible to find, and not promoted to the general public. The researchers leading the project showed a strong bias towards a policy requiring only self-declaration of identity, and the organizations behind the research do not seem interested in including public opinion — seeking out participation only from a few select groups within the LGBTQ community. It was immediately clear that the proposed changes to allow people to self-identify their ‘gender’ created a conflict with women’s rights and protections. We know that gender is socially constructed and gender stereotypes are a key instrument in maintaining sex inequality. 

My original articles, published on Feminist Current, are still the only pieces written by someone living in Taiwan addressing what is going on and demonstrating opposition to self-ID legislation. Taiwanese feminists read my work, shared it, translated it into Chinese, and posted it across various social media platforms to glavinize others into action. Taiwanese women around Taipei and New Taipei City began a campaign using messaging apps and online platforms to share information, as well as distributing flyers and pamphlets by hand, detailing the case and urging their friends, family, and members of the community to contact their local legislators to complain about the verdict. Taiwanese feminists, concerned women, and their male allies continue to wonder why they had been strategically left out of the conversation about self-ID. The women leading this campaign told me that the country’s major parties have failed to support women, and that the current administration “went completely silent” after pledging feminist policies. Taiwanese news outlets have not been telling their story or informing the public that there is strong opposition to gender ideology and self-ID. In October 2021, Taiwanese feminists helped create an online petition to appeal the ruling on self-ID, in an effort to protect women-only spaces. They needed 5,000 signatures from Taiwanese citizens or permanent residents of Taiwan in order for the government to review it and reply to it publicly. The petition easily got the required 5,000 signatures, meeting their goal ahead of the December 2nd deadline. Another petition organized by a group concerned with women’s safety if males are allowed to change their legal sex was in action at the same time, and it also surpassed the 5,000 signature goal. The government will now have to publicly address their concerns. This very large opposition to self-ID was not covered or addressed in any Taiwanese news outlets. 

It is disheartening to me to see news coverage of Self-ID in Taiwan, with absolutely no discussion on how this will negatively impact women and girls. No feminists were interviewed, no scholaors, no concerned mothers or worried public. Clandestine but penetrating, gender identity is working its ways into Taiwanese law. Disappointingly, there has been no critical media coverage – at all. Across the board news outlets in Taiwan have printed copy and paste statements from groups representing certain interests, and offered no counter opinion, none of the ample evidence available was provided to show how controversial and how detrimental to women and girls self-ID is. Taiwanese media, including the programs run by the government, is full of very diversity friendly news, reports and articles, all seemingly in favor of self-ID, none noticing or mentioning the conflict with women‘s rights, and how the infrastructure of the public space makes it nearly impossible to guarantee that women‘s safety is not at risk. 

It’s disappointing to see such a thriving democracy like Taiwan circumvent discussion on this topic and try to use sleight of hand to pass a law that would negatively impact its citizens. It is reminiscent of its recent authoritarian past, under the guise of being progressive and inclusive. It’s disappointing to see that women’s organizations and trans rights groups that don’t suit the narrative, and the general public, have been left out of conversations about how this would affect them. The recent pushback against self-ID is a product of remarkable grassroots organization amongst Taiwanese women and the LGB community..This grassroots movement deserves a lot of attention. It shows how, even when politicians and the media aren’t doing their job properly and listening to all sides, people with determination and organization can make themselves heard. The rapid growth of a vibrant movement of women (and male allies) in Taiwan has been inspirational, and should be given a voice. 

So on International Women’s Day I ask you, why are women being shut out the media for for wanting to talk about the contentious sex self-ID issue? Are women and feminist groups in Taiwan being intentionally ignored? Are their concerns being actively suppressed? Why is there no media coverage showcasing opposition to self-ID and highlighting the burgeoning grassroots feminist movement fighting gender ideology in Taiwan? Along with sending this letter to the Taiwanese feminists on platforms like Plurk, where it will be translated into Chinese and shared with women around the country,  I will be publishing this letter on my website.Whilst these women and their allies may not voicing beliefs that you agree with, as their representation in the media is important, and I will continue to fight for their right and the right of all women to speak freely about concerns that so deeply affect them and those they care about.

I, along with thousands of other women in Taiwan, am waiting for your response.

Jaclynn Joseph, M.A.
Doctoral candidate, Sofia University, Bulgaria
Lecturer, Ming Chuan University, Taiwan

See my work at
Guest writer at Feminist CurrentCanada’s leading feminist website.

Male Applies for Menstrual Leave in Taiwan

Trans-identified male attempts to apply for paid leave from work, claiming menstrual pain.

Yup, you read that headline correctly. Your eyes did not deceive you. A trans-identified male attempted to apply for time off work due to menstrual pain. No uterus? No problem!

Taking us back to basic Bio 101, menstruation, or having your period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle. Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy. An egg is produced, the lining of the uterus thickens up, hormones prepare the vagina and the cervix to accept and support sperm. When pregnancy doesn’t occur, the egg is absorbed back into the body and the thick lining in the uterus is shed, this is your period. Then the cycle begins all over again.  The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus. No uterus, no period. I don’t mean to patronize anyone with this detailed definition, but it seems that some have forgotten how periods happen.

In Taiwan, the Act of Gender Equality in Employment gives women three days of “menstrual leave” per year, which will not be calculated toward the 30 days of “common sick leave”, giving women up to 33 days of “health-related leaves” per year. The extra three days do not come with half-pays once a woman employee exceeds the regulated 30

To quote directly from Article 14 of the Ministry of Labor:
Female employee having difficulties in performing her work during menstruation period may request one day menstrual leave each month. If the cumulative menstrual leaves do not exceed three days in a year, said leaves shall not be counted toward days off for sick leave. All additional menstrual leaves shall be counted toward days off for sick leave. Wages for menstrual leaves, whether said leaves are sick leaves or non-sick leaves as prescribed in the preceding Paragraph, shall be half the regular wage.

A trans-identified male who had received so-called “gender reassignment surgery” and has officially registered their “change of sex”, applied for menstrual leave. As incredible as it sounds, the company where he is employed was unsure of whether he was eligible and asked the local government for further advice. The local government passed the question on to the MOL, which consulted the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). The MOHW responded to the MOL with an explanation from the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology (TAOG), that transgender women do not have uteruses and do not menstruate. Since the purpose of the menstrual leave is to provide relief to those who may suffer physical discomfort at work while menstruating, the policy does not apply to transgender women as they do not go through the experience.

Why was this even up for debate? The first source of confusion within the present transgender debate comes from people frequently conflating (biologically-determined) “sex,” (socially-determined) “gender,” (privately-determined) “gender identity,” sexual preference, and biological instances of intersex (such as Klinefelter’s and Turner syndrome) all under the same canopy term “gender.” Biological males can now identify as a female in order to gain access to women’s toilets, refuges or prisons. They can now attempt to apply for menstrual leave, despite never having had a woman’s body or the ability to have a period. Thankfully, for now, Taiwan rejects this as impossible and irrational…but how long will they hold out? Taiwan has been contemplating allowing Self-ID laws, something I’ve discussed in two articles published on Feminist Current and located at the end of this piece. And thankfully here has been a huge amount of backlash against Self-ID in Taiwan from local LGB and feminists groups. But how long before more entitled men, who “feel” like women, equate their stomachaches or indigestion with the intense spasms of pain that (only) females go through monthly. Women around the world experience period stigma, in some places women are still ostracized for this basic biological function. Some suffer extreme medical problems, even risk death, due to lack of access to proper menstrual hygiene. Menstrual taboos have serious implications and consequences on women around the world, with restrictions enforced on a woman’s daily life, impacting her health and freedoms. No access to menstrual hygiene is the fifth biggest killer of women in the world. It’s is extremely offensive for a male to attempt to claim to have had his “period”. Women are still dying in places where simply having your period is considered taboo, but a narcissistic male thinks he’s entitled to a day off because he “feels like a woman.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we women could identify out of our periods? But our bodies don’t work that way.

This isn’t simply a Taiwan issue. Medical schools across North America are shying away discussing human biology, in an attempt to be “politically correct”. Katie Herzog, writing for the Substack newsletter of Bari Weiss, reports on the phenomenon in her article Med Schools Are Now Denying Biological Sex, with the deck, “Professors are apologizing for saying ‘male’ and ‘female.’ Students are policing teachers. This is what it looks like when activism takes over medicine.” She also tells about med school professors getting into trouble for saying “breastfeed” instead of “chestfeed,” “she” and “her,” “father” and “son,” and “male” and “female.” The tautological descriptions of biological reality now are cast as thought crimes. 

Transwomen are biologically male. Not all women get their periods, but its only women who do. Why won’t physicians, professors, scientists, scholars, and administrators, (and the silent majority) assert what they know to be true? Biologically, I’m female. Emotionally, I have never felt neither male nor female. I just feel human. I don’t have a gender, I have a biological sex and I have a complex personality which is neither feminine nor masculine. We live in a world where narcissism is celebrated, and nothing screams entitlement more than a man making a mockery of a very female condition, one that causes many of us great amounts of pain and discomfort, not to mention embarrassment throughout our lives.

We simply must agree on objective reality, or everything is forfeit. And it is this objectivity that is under full attack. It’s under attack by people motivated first by compassion, then by anger, and now by power. This is the new religious fundamentalism. And make no mistake, to be silent against it, is to tacitly subscribe to it. If there is one thing to take with you, it is that. We must all stand against this in our own way, and on our own level.

How many times have we heard bold proclamations like “transwomen are women” and “gender is just a social construct”? We all know these statements aren’t totally true, but the people making them usually seem to have good intentions, so we give them a pass. We all know that transwomen are actually transwomen (hence the prefix), and some aspects of gender are connected to the fact that there are biological differences between men and women. Our failure to acknowledge the obvious reality about these topics indicates that we are either afraid to speak the truth or falsely believe that compassion, tolerance, and scientific accuracy cannot all exist in the same space. Do not compromise on the truth. Do not cede the land of objectivity. Do not give in to emotional arguments, subjective anecdotes, or appeals to authority. If a claim is false, call it false. If you’re not sure, say so. Ask for clear reasoning in plain speech. If someone begins to sound like the side of a prescription bottle, request simplification. If simplification is not offered, or your request is insulted, the source is suspect.

We must all unite in defense of Reason.

See my work in Feminist Current, Canada’s largest feminist news outlet, below:

Men: A Series – Part I

Documenting the ridiculous and often tedious messages I receive from men on social media

Men: A Series has become a wildly popular series on my Facebook page, with people constantly suggesting I turn this series into a book. While I have definitely considered that, I wanted to start by posting parts of the series here on my website first. This ‘shaming’ series doesn’t exist to embarrass individual men, (but if you are one of the men who sent me these messages, and you feel ashamed…that’s ok too). I created this series to make visible how many men are ridiculous, sexist, gross weirdos to women on the internet. Each post will contain 3-4 screenshots from different men who have contacted me on various social media platforms. According to a recent Pew report, 40 percent of Internet users have personally experienced harassment. While both sexes are frequent victims of this abuse, women tend to get the worst of it. Once I started screenshotting and posting these messages and exposing the garbage-water spewed at women who try to just exist online, it was addictive.

Men: A Series is an important archival project showcasing the breadth of men’s casual, online misogyny. Yes, when you’ve been asked to swallow buckets of someone else’s bile, it feels good to puke it up – on them, if possible. And I hope this will be more than just cathartic for the women who had to put up with similar messages. Read on, have a laugh!

If you’re a man and this article makes you defensive, congratulations: you’re part of the problem. But if they make you angry, hi! We need you. Come collect your dudes.

Post 1:

Goodreads is a site for books, and for readers to keep track of reading progress. It is also, apparently, a place for men to perv on women like myself who simply want to read in f-ing peace. No one wants to kiss you, Christian. Sorry.

Post 2:

I’m not sure what Lawrence was thinking here, but real men don’t pay for the attention of women.

Post 3:

A message from a man I had never met before. I’m sure he meant it when he said he wanted to have sex with me as a person, not just a body, right? Ew. Who sends messages like this??

Post 4:

Another random message to wake up to from a random man on the internet.

Taiwanese women hit back as government tries to roll out self-ID law

There has never really been a robust feminist movement in Taiwan, despite there being notable feminist icons, such as former Vice President Annette Hsiu-Lee, author Li Ang, and publisher of the feminist magainze, Awakening, Yenlin Ku. For better or worse, Taiwan owes its ideological origins to Western feminism, and Taiwanese feminists have always been careful to take into consideration the tradition of social hierarchies and the Confucian belief that women live in service to their husbands. This created a feminism that strived more to win social respect as wives and mothers in the home, rather than to actively subvert gender roles, and avoided antagonizing the male populace.

Thousands of pamphlets are being distributed by anti-self-ID feminists in Taiwan. They have been distributed in mailboxes around Taipei and New Taipei City, warning citizens of the implications of gender identity legislation.

The only options to choose from were:

  1. Maintain the status quo/current law
  2. Certificates of sex change only, but no surgery required
  3. Complete access to Self-ID in law
  4. Other

The survey also included questions like:

“Some people feel like they’re neither male or female — do you think there should be another option?”

  1. 1.Yes
  2. 2.No
  3. I don’t know / No comment

Lin says:

“That’s where the fire started for us. I jumped into an internet argument, and we gathered in a chatroom to discuss. The more we looked into the data, the more I could sense the whole thing wasn’t right. I am a lawyer — I know the law — and when I saw what the government was attempting to do I was extremely anxious and shocked.”

Lin and other women spoke out on the Taiwanese social media platform, Plurk, sparking awareness which led to a growing outcry against self-ID. Lin says, “My friends and I ignite fights online to raise awareness of this issue. We fight to prevent being erased as women.”

Another woman I will refer to as Ms. Chen has been active in the LGB community for years, supports the rights of trans-identified individuals to safety and dignity under the law, but does not support self-ID and feels betrayed by the movement she has always supported:

“I’ve been helping transgender individuals for more than seven years now. For over five years, I’ve contributed to the Women’s March Taiwan, advising on a wide range of feminist [issues], spreading awareness about consent, hosting three Women’s Day marches, live streaming Women’s Day events, and organizing more than a dozen workshops on women’s rights and related issues. During the past few years, self-ID has started to creep into Taiwan quietly as the country slowly but steadily joins many modern Western nations on human rights issues. After same-sex marriage in Taiwan became legal in May 2019, I thought everything would be fine, at least for a while. But suddenly we see the world crumble so fast as self-ID advocates are pushing through their agenda hastily, giving people no time to react. I instantly thought I should come forward and start acting since this is clearly not an advance of human rights or transgender rights. This is a clear breach of human rights and will only do more damage than benefit. As I’ve been a supportive of the transgender community for some time, I believe I also have the responsibility to stop this and lead the trans movement in a better direction.”

To Ms. Chen, a better direction would mean considering women’s safety, rejecting self-ID, and maintaining the previous ruling in Taiwan requiring verification from psychologists and surgery in order to change birth sex.

Ms. Tsai, another activist opposing self-ID, also felt a deep sense of betrayal when she tried to raise awareness about this issue:

“Honorable feminist scholars in Taiwan have publicly supported self-ID, such as Prof. Chen Yi-Chien and Prof. Fan Yun. More and more girls and women are worried about self-ID, so we turned to women’s organizations and politicians for support, but we got nothing but disappointment. It is time for us to call for attention.”

Prior to gender identity legislation being pushed in Taiwan, many women were not familiar with feminism and were hesitant to refer to themselves as feminists. Ms. Liao, who has personally handed out nearly 2000 flyers around New Taipei and Taipei City warning about the harms of self-ID, says:

“I didn’t consider myself to be a feminist before this movement hit. I got interested in self-ID after seeing some posts from one of my friends. I had never even heard of self-ID and had no idea what it was about. After doing some research, I understood how deep the problem went and how it could really impact us.” 

Ms. Lin said something similar, explaining:

“I didn’t march in the street for any feminism issues in the past. I did talk about and argue about feminism and gender issues on the internet, but as far as starting a real a movement, this is my first time. I looked up the term, ‘gender critical,’ and decided this is where I stand.”

Chen says this movement is growing, but not quickly enough, as it “clashes with the recent trend of the LGBTQ-inclusive agenda that was forced to be adopted by many mainstream Taiwanese feminists, human rights groups, and the government”:

“The Taiwanese don’t necessarily think that deep into an issue, as [gender gender identity ideology] looks very distant to the average Taiwanese. This creates a problem as it’s harder to gain momentum when we need to spread awareness. Political activism addressing issues that affect people financially, or dealing with things that might cause personal harm, like drugs or guns, tend to gain a larger public response in Taiwan, but because of this verdict, I believe it is possible for the movement against self-ID to grow.”

It’s truly amazing to see what a small (but growing) group of women have achieved under adverse circumstances, and how this reflects the strength of women’s collective energy and determination. I expect more and more women will be empowered by those who are brave enough to speak out against self-ID in Taiwan.

Jaclynn Joseph is a Hawai’i born — now Taiwan based — PhD student and university lecturer.

Applying for the International Vaccine Passport in Taiwan

Finally, after two years of being unable to travel due to Covid-19 and a full scale Taiwan lockdown, I am getting on an airplane and flying home to Hawai’i! If you’re like me (a worrier!) you’ve gone over the lists of requirements for traveling internationally many times. And according to Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), some people need to obtain proof of vaccination in the form of an international vaccine passport before traveling abroad. Technically refereed to as the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP), (also known locally by the entirely uncreative nickname, “Yellow Card”…because it’s a yellow colored card), some countries require it at immigration.

As a travel document, it is a medical passport that is recognized internationally and may be required for entry to certain countries where there are increased health risks for travelers. It records proof of vaccination against a wide range of diseases, such as meningitis, tetanus, polio, yellow fever, and of course, Covid-19.

Being the overthinker that I am, with a mantra of “better safe than sorry”, I decided to go and get my Yellow Card in Taipei City this week. Having two vaccination records seemed safer than having one. To my surprise, the process was simple and easy!

You’ll need:
Your current NHI (National Health Insurance card issued in Taiwan) and ID (passport, ARC)
Your Covid-19 (etc) vaccination record 
Cash, as hospitals in Taiwan do not accept credit cards or debit cards

Entering the hospital I was immediately approached by not one, not two, but three smiling and helpful women at the information desk. They knew exactly what I needed and walked me to the second floor of the hospital, to Family Medicine Room 5. It was there that a nurse took my information (my NHI card and Taiwanese proof of Covid-19 vaccination), and told me to wait to see the doctor on staff. I waited for perhaps five minutes before seeing a friendly and clearly overworked doctor who asked me a few questions and took my documents. I was told by the nurse that I had to go and pay and return with a receipt, and my Yellow Card would be ready to go!

Around the corner on the second floor was the payment desk, and it cost me 730NTD, or roughly $26USD.

Returning to Family Medicine Room 5, the nurse handed me my completed Yellow Card and told me how to fill in the required information (name, date of birth, passport number).

All in all, the process took me less than one hour. If you’re a long time expat like me, you know that Taiwan can sometimes make a simply process into a confusing and chaotic mess. (I’m looking at you, banking in Taiwan!) But this was an easy and straight-forward procedure.

You may not need an International Certificate of Vaccination, but I haven’t traveled in two years and wanted to play it as safe as possible. Check with the CDC and see what they recommend for you. And stay safe!

Speaking at Women’s Human Rights Campaign – Full video

Feminist Question Time – December 4th, 2021

Guest speaker for Women’s Human Rights Campaign – Feminist Question Time

What do you get when you put hundreds of feminists together in a (digital) room? Empowerment, support, ideas, and passion are some words that come to mind. A fire doesn’t just start on its own, it takes some energy to get it burning. Some of the best ideas come from sharing and engaging with a group. 

The full video of the webinar is now posted on YouTube, and you can see it here:

I Know Great People

My recent interview discussing my work, my studies, and most importantly…cheese!

I know great people…and they consider me pretty great, too! Great enough, so it seems, to be featured on the podcast I Know Great People.

I Know Great People is a series of conversations intended bridge the gap between our knowledge of what people do, and the perception, or misperceptions, people may have about these occupations or lifestyles. What’s it really like being an expat in Taiwan? A university lecturer in Asia? Pursing a PhD? In my (lengthy, sorry!) interview we focus on my studies and my work in Taiwan. Topics include what led me to go to Taiwan (and to stay!), challenges that I overcame (or still struggle with), unexpected benefits and drawbacks, and the most important question of all…what kind of cheese do I like best??

I had a blast recording this. I hope you enjoy listening!

Gender identity legislation is being pushed through in Taiwan — will the public get a say?

Image: Focus Taiwan

On October 30th, I am presenting on the topic of “Gender and Immateriality” at the 29th Annual Conference of the English and American Literature Association in Taiwan and, funny enough, Taiwan is currently awash with news of sex self-identification. Gender identity ideology has ripped through Western society at full force, bringing out tired old stereotypes and misogyny disguised as progressive thinking, and is now extending across the globe.

But, this isn’t a human right.

1988 : Two doctors defined the surgical requirements to change one’s legal sex in Taiwan as the removal of reproductive organs and the completion of so-called “sex reassignment surgery” (SRS), including vaginoplasty and phalloplasty.

Other criteria for legally changing sex in Taiwan included:

  • Living as opposite sex for at least two years and adapting well
  • Having the support of parents and family
  • Being aged between 20 and 40 years old
  • Patient intelligence above mid-range, an IQ score of between 85 and 115
  • Ruling-out patients seeking to perform surgery due to mental disorders, paraphilic disorders, or excessive mental stress

For 20 years, this remained the only way to legally change your sex in Taiwan.

November 2008 :  As SRS is often expensive and quite risky, human rights organizations and various activists worked with the Department of Health (now called the Ministry of Health and Welfare), to change the 1988 criteria to the following:

“Application of trans-identified individuals requires two certificates of diagnosis from two different licensed Taiwanese psychiatrists, and a certificate of diagnosis from a licensed Taiwanese medical institution stating the removal of breasts, uterus, and ovaries in women, and penis and testes in men.”

The difference being that now, no vaginoplasty or phalloplasty was required after the surgery.

October 2013: The Office of the President Human Rights Committee held a meeting and decided the Executive Yuan should coordinate with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health to come up with a better policy for legal sex changes.

December 2013 :  The Ministry of Health held a conference on sex change registration requirements. The conference agreed on the following conclusion:

“The legal change of gender registration should not require ANY medical requirements or prerequisites.”

The conclusion also stated that details should be discussed further with affected agencies and ministries. No women’s organizations were mentioned or consulted.

January 2017 :  The Taiwanese Society of Psychiatry published the following statement on their website:

“It is not recommended to allow the change of legal gender solely based on Psychiatrists’ Certificates of diagnosis. We recommend that the government should form a special agency dedicated to this specific purpose instead, to ensure and protect the rights of the affected individual.”

September 2021 :  Taiwan court rules to allow a male identifying himself as “Xiao E (小E)”  to change his legal sex to “female” without surgery.

The Chinese language news outlets that covered this case (UDN News, ET Daily, Apply Daily, LTN Liberty Times) all did so with no comment on how these changes would impact women in Taiwan. Across the board, they printed copy and paste statements from groups representing trans activist interests, and offered no counter opinion or discussion of potential harm to women and girls. The two English language news outlets to discuss the case — Focus Taiwan and Taipei Times — provided the barest of details and also failed to discuss negative impacts on women.

According to an anonymous source I spoke with who works for the government, the research is strongly biased towards requiring only self-declaration of identity. This research is costing the Taiwan government upwards of 1.3 million Taiwan Dollars (roughly $37,000 USD). The survey seems, almost by design, very difficult to find online — a government official who reached out to me had trouble finding the Google form, and, unlike the general public, he actually knew what to search for. Searching online for information on the research being conducted — or the survey itself — only reveals the institutions who bid to conduct the research. The only actual links to the form are found on transgender or LGBTQ related forums. The organizations behind the research do not seem interested in including the general public and are heavily biased, only seeking out participation from a few select groups within the LGBTQ community.

There are many trans people around the world who acknowledge that surgery cannot actually change one’s sex. Not all of those who have had sex-change operations and/or identify as “transsexual” or “trans” push to enter female spaces, or force others to use incorrectly sexed pronouns. Trans is not a monolith, and many with dysphoria are under no illusions about their biological reality. Yet, trans-identified individuals who deviate from the preferred narrative are not being included in the conversation. It appears as though the Executive Branch already knows what they want to include in their bill, which, if passed, will ensure one need only self-declare an inner sense of “gender identity” in order to legally change sex. They are promoting what is called a “legal fiction,” which is created when the law acts as if something is the case, for certain defined legal purposes, when in fact it is not. Humans cannot change sex, but we are being coerced into an immersive fiction by Taiwan’s government into believing they can.

This graph shows the increase in trans-identified men and women over the years in Taiwan. Note the disproportionate increase in trans-identified males. This graph was published by the National Yangming Jiaotong University using information provided by Taipei Veteran General Hospital. (According to the Taiwanese calendar, which counts years starting from the creation of the Republic of China, the numbers 85–102 refer to the years 1996–2013.)

Even the term, “gender identity,” is a misnomer — in fact, gender identity legislation requires others to identify you as a member of the sex you proclaim.

Material facts about the way women are treated in society — and the protections and spaces we require — must be acknowledged in consideration of this issue. Allowing men to self-identify as women and access women’s spaces and resources causes harm to the original members of the category “woman.”

Feelings of being born in the “wrong body” are unverifiable, no matter how strongly felt and expressed. They do not constitute scientific evidence of objective material reality. “I think I am a woman, therefore I am a woman” cannot be the basis for the legal definition of a woman. It legally disenfranchises women to remove biological sex from the definition of womanhood, or to have it superseded by gender identity.

I have always loved people who rejected gender stereotypes: David Bowie, Boy George, Marlene Dietrich, Annie Lennox, Grace Jones, and every member of BTS — women who dared to be what we deem masculine and men who choose not to be. The idea that women should be “feminine” (soft, submissive, subservient) and the idea that men must play sports and guzzle beer, or that they shouldn’t wear makeup or show their emotions, are gender stereotypes. I support rejecting gender. Given that I support gender non-conformity and breaking apart stereotypes, you might think I would be happy about today’s gender ideology. But I am not. That is because rather than reject gender stereotypes, gender identity ideology says we must define ourselves by them. It is a step back, and it has been skillfully sold as progressive.

A pamphlet distributed on social media in Taiwan explains the harms of gender identity legislation.

January 2022 : The research currently being conducted will be summarized into a report and the Executive Yuan will then write a bill based on the results. The time to act is now. Contact your local legislator and make your voice heard.

*Note that in Mandarin Chinese, there is no distinction made between the words sex and gender. In Taiwan, when terms like “gender registration” and “legal gender” are used, they are referring to biological sex.

Prior to 1988 there was no regulation or law regarding changing ones sex in Taiwan

Jaclynn Joseph is a Hawai’i born — now Taiwan based — PhD student and university lecturer.