China’s Last Eunuch Spills Sex Secrets, Ethel Person

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The article “China’s Last Eunuch Spills Sex Secrets” by Emma Graham-Harrison is dedicated to the eunuch Sun Yaotin and his turbulent life. His biography written by Jia Yinghua reveals secrets of emperor’s palace life as well as Sun’s personal painful experience.

For many centuries, only castrated men in China had the ACCESS to the rooms of the Forbidden City. Sun’s family hoped that a painful procedure would give him an opportunity to become influential and wealthy. It was his father who castrated him at home without proper instruments and disinfecting procedures. While Sun was recovering and hoping to serve, the emperor Pu Yi abdicated the throne. Nevertheless, ex-emperor had a possibility to stay in the palace and Sun became the empress’s servant. When his master was forced to leave, Sun followed him and after that the puppet regime was ruined. Sun escaped back to the heart of a civil war and became a Communist officer. He was persecuted by radical leftists for his role at the time of empire, but lately was left in peace. His life ended in 1996 in a temple.

He was a clever person and had all chances to become prosperous if only the empire had not collapsed. Many eunuchs disappeared with treasures except for Sun, who only kept intelligence, memories and secrets of the palace. He did not trust his family after the procedure was in vain and when his “treasure” was taken. The only person to whom he revealed his secrets was Jia Yinghua, who published his biography “The Last Eunuch of China” after the Sun’s death.

Sun Yaotin failed to become rich and influential, but he was rich in knowledge. After years of being in torment, he was eventually feted for being a unique “relic” and a piece of a living Chinese history.

The article “Ethel Person” by Stephen Burt surveys the main ideas and works of a psychiatrist, who devoted her life to researching cross-dressers, transgender and transsexual phenomena. The article deals with the ideas and explanations in the field of gender and self-determination.

Stephen Burnt is a critic, poet and professor at Harvard University. He is a male, who likes to dress up and feels like a female. Ethel Person’s works helped him to find answers to the questions of trans people psychology. In 1970s Person became one of the first mental health researchers of transsexual people. She visited meetings, interviewed patients, even investigated pornography to discover how people come to consider themselves as male or female and if there is a way to help those who cannot define themselves. In her works “The Transsexual Syndrome in Males” (1974) and “Homosexual Cross-Dressers” (1984), she deals with the notions of “core gender identity” and “gender-role identity.” In “The Sexual Century”, she wrote that being a homosexual is not an illness, though cross-gender is a disorder. Her latest books “Dreams of Love and Fateful Encounters” (1988) and “By force of Fantasy” (1995) are dedicated to gender, love, imagination and power influencing many lives, even the lives of fiction characters. Her last work “Feeling Strong” (2002) inquired how we get and preserve an inner sense of having an authentic power over other people and ourselves.

Nowadays trans gender people have more rights and opportunities to speak their minds than it was in 1970s. However, more attention is paid to practical issues than to inner experience. Patients and clients seek in psychiatrists their problem-solvers but not interlocutors.

Though times have changed, Person’s ideas are true. In her “Feeling Strong”, she wrote that it was impossible to know a person without knowing his or her experience in early life. She helped people to understand how their stories of life influence their self-determination.

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