UPDATE 1-China removes transsexual dancer as talent show judge

Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:35am EDT

(Adds government denial)

HONG KONG, Sept 22 (Reuters) - A well-known contemporary Chinese dancer says she has been removed as a judge from a television talent show despite the objections of the show's producers, and believes it is because she is a transsexual.

Shanghai-based retired dancer Jin Xing announced on her microblog that she had received the news in a telephone call this week from the director of the singing show, which is made by a television station in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

"He told me that the reason for my removal, according to the regulator's letter, is because I am transsexual, which will have negative effects on society," Jin, a one-time colonel in a People's Liberation Army dance troupe, told Reuters.

She said the directors of the programme strongly opposed the decision to remove her, but were "helpless" upon receiving an official order from the Zhejiang branch of the national broadcasting regulator.

"I've received around 50,000 messages that have given me a lot of encouragement and comfort, so I think there is a sense of righteousness in society and the people's eyes are enlightened," said Jin, whose name literally means "gold star."

But the official Xinhua news agency denied that the local regulator had ordered Jin off the air because she is a transsexual, saying that the decision was made by the station itself and "the bureau has not interfered with the show".

Once a taboo topic during the heyday of Chinese communism, society's attitude towards sex and sexual minorities have relaxed considerably in the past decade, though conservative views also remain common.

One, microblogger Chen Ji, wrote: "It seems that the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television wants to create a uniform society."

Jin questioned why the regulator did not order her to be dropped from the start.

"Maybe it's because during this period, there have been a pattern of restrictions toward stations in Zhejiang and Hunan from the top, from Beijing," said Jin, who is legally recognised as a woman on her identity card.

China this month ordered a hit talent show akin to American Idol produced in the central province of Hunan off the air for a year for exceeding broadcasting time limits.

Beijing's prudish censors routinely block anything they consider politically sensitive, offensive or too racy, from songs to films, in contrast to the stirring patriotic fare the government promotes on mainstream stations.

Jin said television stations may feel the need to go to extremes to express their agreement with orders from the top.

"So as a result, in order for Zhejiang's television bureau to express their attitude, they must go to extremes to show that they're in agreement, and I've been axed in the process," she said.

"But using my transgender status as an excuse? That is unforgivable." (Reporting by Sisi Tang; Editing by Ben Blanchard, Elaine Lies and Yoko Nishikawa)