‘I’m no LGBT crusader’: China’s transgender star Jin Xing, Latest Others News - The New Paper

‘I’m no LGBT crusader’: China’s transgender star Jin Xing

China’s transgender star Jin Xing prefers to focus on her art, but when the inevitable questions on her preferred pronouns surface, the 56-year-old is quick to say she is no LGBT crusader.

“I don’t raise a flag to champion any issue. It’s a personal choice and I don’t live for anybody but myself,” she tells The Straits Times in a mix of Mandarin and English. “As long as people can see my passion and positivity in life, I’m setting a good example.”

She adds: ”This world likes to label and categorise people. It’s terrible. We’re really all the same.”

The charismatic multi-talented dancer, actress and television host underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1995, making her a national sensation as she was the first celebrity in China to do so openly.

She was in Singapore on Wednesday to promote her upcoming performances at the Esplanade – a stage play called Sunrise which she stars in and directs, as well as a modern dance offering, Wildflowers, presented by the Shanghai-based Jin Xing Dance Theatre, of which she is the founder and artistic director.

Sunrise is a three-hour stage production based on the classic play by the late Chinese playwright Cao Yu, known as “Shakespeare of the Orient”. Jin plays two characters – Chen Bailu, a Shanghai courtesan and kept woman, and Cui Xi, a prostitute. The 1936 play depicts people from all walks of life and their struggles and confusions.

Wildflowers, a 75-minute modern dance collaboration with Dutch avant-garde choreographer Arthur Kuggeleyn, is an invitation to “bloom with freedom” fearlessly, says Jin, much like her personal journey.

Singapore is her top destination for performing outside of China, she says, because of her big fan and friend base here. However, she finds the arts scene here “relatively quiet” and the local audiences “reserved”.

“Singapore has done very well in many areas, but as South-east Asia’s hub, you can do with more vibrancy in the arts too,” she says, observing that there is no lack of talent or investment in arts education here.

Her dream is to set up a performing arts school in Singapore or even helm a talk show here if the opportunity arises.

“I will be the best talk-show host you can find, and I can speak both Mandarin and English and more,” promises Jin, who also speaks Korean, Japanese, Italian and French.

Born in 1967 in Shenyang, in China’s north-east, to an army officer father and translator mother, she was recruited by a military dance troupe at age nine and won a dance scholarship to New York in her teens. The former male ballet dancer and army colonel founded Jin Xing Dance Theatre – China’s first private modern dance troupe – in 1999. She also adopted three children before she married her German husband Heinz Gerd Oidtmann in 2005. They are now based in Shanghai.

She rose to stardom on the first season of the Chinese version of So You Think You Can Dance in 2013, in which her refreshing honesty and “poison tongue” drew comparisons with English talent show judge Simon Cowell. She also hosted a chat show, The Jin Xing Show (2015 to 2017), which earned her the moniker “Oprah of China”.

In 2021, she became the face of French luxury brand Dior’s fragrance J’adore.

“Besides talent, luck and patience, curiosity is my key driving force,” she says. “I am always curious to know what I can do next. I am never content.

“To me, the good show hasn’t even started, and I haven’t even reached my peak.”

Sunrise and Wildflowers

Where: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive
When: Sunrise (June 14 to 16, 8pm), Wildflowers (June 19 and 20, 8pm)
Admission: Ticketing details will be available on Sistic soon