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Yinyang Ren

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Yinyang ren (traditional Chinese 陰陽人, simplified Chinese 阴阳人, Pinyin yīnyáng rén) is a gender identity and role in Chinese culture, used to describe people who possess both feminine and masculine qualities. Yinyang ren are generally expected to have an androgynous gender expression and be bisexual. Some yinyang ren identify as cisgender but gender non-conforming, while others are transgender, non-binary and/or intersex.

A famous example of yinyang ren is the main character Baoyu in the book The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin.

Gender role and gender identity

This category of gender identity and gender role is used in Chinese society to describe some individuals whose personalities and behaviors appear to be intermediate between more ordinary masculine and feminine cases. Other characteristics may include elements such as assertiveness, aesthetic sensitivity, etc., as well as lack of strong discrimination between preferred sexual partners on the basis of their sex.

An often cited example is Cao Xueqin, author of The Dream of the Red Chamber. The main character of that novel, Baoyu, is believed to be at least semi-autobiographical. Baoyu is physiologically male, so in that respect he is yang. He has a strong romantic attraction to attractive young women, which is also yang. His first sexual was sexual intercourse with his female bond servant. And yet he is strongly attracted to some boys, and the description of his psychological reaction to meeting one of his male cohorts is one of the most acute descriptions of the aesthetic appreciation of one person by another to be found in world literature. In those cases he is strongly yin.

According to the description of his infancy, in conformance with the customs of his family he was shown a collection of objects to see which ones would attract him and which ones would be ignored. When he chose cosmetics and other such household items that would be associated with beautiful young women, the family gave his choice the socionormal explanation that as an adult he would be a rake, a man perhaps too strongly subject to feminine wiles. The possibility that he was attracted to these items because they were attractive to him because he would choose them for his own use was ignored. Yet if he had chosen a writing brush the assumption might well have been that he would aspire to be a great writer and/or a great painter.

For a related discussion, in Chinese, see [1].

Other uses

In other contexts, the term yin-yang ren can refer either to intersex or transgender people.

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