Young transgender people in China are risking their lives and health by attempting surgery on themselves and taking unsafe hormones, Amnesty International said in a report on Friday.
An "alarming" lack of knowledge and expertise within the country's public health system, as well as restrictive eligibility requirements, has made it almost impossible for trans people to access safe hormone therapy or other gender-affirming treatment, the Guardian quoted the report as saying.
In China, trans people are classified as having a mental illness and require the consent of their families for sex reassignment surgery, Amnesty found. The prevalence of discrimination and stigma means many choose not to tell their families.
"China is failing transgender people," said Doriane Lau, China researcher at Amnesty.
"Discriminatory laws and policies have left many people feeling they have no choice but to risk their lives by performing extremely dangerous surgery on themselves and seeking unsafe hormone drugs on the black market."
Transgender people are "invisible" in China's health system, Amnesty said. They face entrenched discrimination at home, school and at work, as well as when seeking healthcare.
China has no LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) anti-discrimination laws.
There are no official estimates of the number of trans people in the country, or how many seek treatment.
However, in 2017 a report stated that more than 1,000 people in the country had undergone gender-affirming surgery and 400,000 people were planning to do so.
Peking University Third hospital, which opened in 2018, is the only multidisciplinary clinic in China that specialises in a range of gender-affirming treatments.