Liu Shihan: China‘s Transsexual Celebrity Model

Liu Shihan was born as a boy. []

Liu Shihan was born as a boy. []

Ever since she could remember, Liu Shihan believed that she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body.

Liu was born in Changsha, capital city of South China’s Hunan Province, in 1989. Born as a boy, she was given a typical boy’s name, Liu Shuai.

As her mother wanted to have a daughter, she was raised as a girl at an early age.Her mother sometimes put lipstick on her and pretended she was a girl.

According to Liu, she believed she was a girl from the age of 3. When she was still a little child, she suffered from this belief and the subsequent conflicts with reality. Believing that she could begin again if she died, she copied a suicide scene in a TV series and slit her wrists. Fortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful.

In order to prevent Liu from attempting suicide again, her mother told her, “When you are 16, you will magically turn into a princess.”

Her mother’s lie gave her hope. Liu waited patientlyuntil her 16th birthday. She was so excited she couldn’t fall asleep, waiting for a miracle that sadly never came.

Liu’s life was full of such difficulties. In junior high, the boys made fun of her for wearing makeup. They disliked her mannerisms and mocked her constantly.

Once, the boys threw her onto a bed in the dorm and started threatening to take her clothes off and bit her on the shoulders to see how soft her skin was. Liu could only cry and beg them to stop.

After spending a difficult three years at high school, she was accepted into the Hunan Mass Media Vocational Technical College in Changsha.

Liu dances at a nightclub to make money for her transsexual surgery. []

Liu dances at a nightclub to make money for her transsexual surgery. []

Transsexual Surgery

In college, Liu fell in love with a boy but quickly realized that they could not be together if she did not undergo transsexual surgery. She became convinced that being a boy was not the life she really wanted. She told the boy that she would come back for him in three years.

Liu’s family strongly opposed the surgery, believing that she was only doing it to gain fame. They kept her at home and made her cut her hair, which she had left to grow long. Eventually, she escaped and began working towards her dream of becoming a girl.

At the time, transsexual surgery cost tens of thousands of US dollars. To earn money at the beginning, Liu danced at a nightclub, performing with a boa constrictor. She used the name Lan Xi for her performance. Lan stood for ‘male’, reminding her of her gender, while Xi was the first name of the boy she loved.

In order to save every penny, Liu only ate one meal a day costing 2.5 yuan (US$ 0.4). She bound her feet to prevent them from growing. She had no friends and was often overwhelmingly lonely. But all her sacrifices paid off three years later when she had saved enough money to pay for her surgery.

“It was not a rash decision. I felt relief instead of pain after the surgery,” said Liu.”It was worth all the suffering that had come before.”

After surgery, Liu contacted her mother, who asked her to come back home. Since then, she has embarked on a completely new life.

A Fashion Model

Liu poses for an advertisement for an online game. []

Liu poses for an advertisement for an online game. []

Later, Liu moved to Beijing to work as a model. She had two relationships, both of which ended when the families of the men found out that she was unable to bear children.

Liu began to gain a measure of fame after being featured in several established fashion magazines and was invited to shoot advertisements for online games. She gained a large male following.

At the beginning of 2011, Liu admitted on her blog that she was a transsexual, after several netizens published photos of her before her surgery.

“I would rather announce this publicly than allow them to hurt me. Many years ago, I did undergo transsexual surgery,” Liu wrote. “I am being completely frank to everyone. I have been so tired, but now I feel as if all the pressure from the past six years has been released.”

“We were in a relationship for over half a year, but I never realized that she had been a boy,” said one of Liu’s exes.

Before her announcement, Liu was occasionally bothered by text messages from wealthy men and directors, asking her to be their mistress.

“I have never received those types of messages again,” she said when her exes and friends called her to ask about whether what she wrote in her blog was true.

Although most of her followers found it hard to accept the fact that she is a transsexual, Liu has gained some respect and recognition for being the first transsexual model in China.

(Source: and edited by



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