Republish: Chinese Transgender Employment Discrimination Case Wins Groundbreaking Court Statement

The following press release has been shared with us by Common Language:

For Immediate Release

Chinese Transgender Employment Discrimination Case Wins Groundbreaking Court Statement

Chinese court’s groundbreaking statement: GENDER IDENTITY AND EXPRESSION PROTECTED UNDER LAW FROM DISCRIMINATION, yet still ruled against plaintiff in China’s first transgender impact litigation case.

Beijing, Feb. 6th, 2018
Released by Common Language
Media Contact:

On February 4th, 2018, the plaintiff of China’s first ever transgender employment discrimination case, Mr. C, received the verdict for the appeal of his case against former employer Ciming Health and Medical Services for violation of personhood rights (discrimination). The court ruled against Mr. C’s appeal claim for a public apology, citing insufficient evidence in proving discrimination actually took place. 

The court upheld the ruling from the original verdict, which supported claims for violation of labour rights, unlawful termination due to differential treatment, and the court awarded a nominal mental compensation fee for Mr. C to be payed by the defendant.

However, in the landmark appeal verdict, the court stated:

“In the view of the court, the right to dignity of a natural person is the most foundational right that should be enjoyed by every citizen. One’s gender identity and gender expression belong under the protected scope of the right to dignity. Respect should be given to the gender identity and gender expression of others. At the same time, laborers should not be discriminated against because they are of a different ethnicity, race, gender, or religious faith. All structural obstacles and employment discrimination [rooted in] urban-rural status, industry, identity, gender, etc. that affects equal employment should be eliminated. The gender identity and expression of an individual should be respected. Laborers should not be treated differently in the course of employ because of their gender identity and expression.” 

(translation of verdict excerpt courtesy of Darius Longarino at Yale Law School)

Image 1: Original verdict of the appeal, with the relevant passages on gender identity and gender expression highlighted

This verdict came as the final court decision after nearly a year of the violation of personhood rights lawsuit was brought, and nearly three years since the incident of discrimination. Over the past three years, the case was first brought to labor arbitration, then in a suit of wrongful termination, and finally the personhood rights suit to prove discrimination, which included the first hearing in April 2017, and appeal hearing in November 2017. 

Image 2: The plaintiff (center) with lead counsel of the appeal Hengyu QIU (left), and expert witness Prof. Xia HE (right), an expert on discrimination, outside of the courthouse on the Nov. 2017 court date

While not wholly victorious, the landmark statement of the court marks a milestone moment for gender identity and gender expression rights in China:

  1. This is the first explicit condemnation of employment discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression, and protects sexual and gender minority individuals’ equal right to employment;
  2. This is the first explicit inclusion of gender identity and gender expression in the protection of personhood rights, which enables sexual and gender minority individuals to also bring forth anti-discrimination lawsuits outside the scope of employment discrimination;
  3. This is an expansion of the causes for discrimination in employment, which opens up the space for sexual and gender minority individuals to bring forth employment discrimination cases in the future.

Both Mr. C (the plaintiff) and Common Language (the LGBTI advocacy organization coordinating the case) would like to thank supporters from all over the globe for showing unparalleled solidarity over the past three years. We couldn’t have made history without you. THANK YOU.

For previous international coverage of this case, please refer to:

The Guardian (April 2016): Court Hears China's First Transgender Discrimination Case
The Washington Post (July 2017): Transgender Chinese Man Wins First-of-its-kind Labor Discrimination Case