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Medical needs unmet for many in transgender community

The high medical demands of transgender people in China are far from satisfied, a survey compiled jointly by the Beijing LGBT Center and Sociology Department at Peking University shows.

The Chinese Transgender Population General Survey Report, released on Monday, indicates that transgender people are in great need of medical services, such as hormone therapy (62 percent) and sex reassignment surgery (51 percent), which are not fully satisfied.

Only 6 percent of respondents expressed satisfaction with the current domestic situation for provision of and access to hormone therapy. And 2 percent thought that there were enough medical resources for sex reassignment surgeries.

"The medical resources are now far from adequate," said Kelly Kiseki, the transgender program manager at the Beijing LGBT Center.

The transgender group is facing high rates of self-harm and suicide: 46.2 percent have considered suicide, with 12.7 percent ultimately attempting to do so, according to the report.

It also shows that 44.5 percent of respondents have thought about self-mutilation as a result of being transgender and 21.2 percent have exhibited some level of self-mutilating behavior.

Transgender individuals also experience persistent neglect, verbal abuse, physical beatings and other forms of violence from their birth family, at school and work, and in public spaces, according to the report.

Experts weigh in on head 'transplant

On Friday, Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero announced that a team led by himself and Professor Ren Xiaoping from China had successfully performed the first human head transplant on a corpse at Harbin Medical University. He also mentioned the prospect of doing such a surgical operation on living humans.

Is his claim even possible? Two experts shared their views with China Daily's Zhang Zhouxiang:

Wang Yue, a professor at the Institute of Medical Humanities, Peking University

Personally, I think it is a little misleading to call what Canavero and Ren have done "a surgical operation". "Surgical operations" are done on living human or animal bodies and they mean to help to sustain life or improve its living conditions; "Transplanting" the head of one corpse to the body of the other should be more properly called "dissection".

Besides, Canavero claimed that the 18-hour "operation" showed it is possible to reconnect the spine, nerves and blood vessels, without ever mentioning whether he succeeded in reconnecting them. In practice, the most difficult part lies not in repairing blood vessels or muscle, but in reconnecting the nerves and reactivating them, or letting the signals transmit through the re-connected nerves. Unless there is a breakthrough in the impairment of wounded nerves, it is irresponsible to do such an "operation" and hype it up.

Further, Canavero said they would "imminently" move onto a living human who was paralyzed from the neck down. According to our standards, medical professionals must do enough tests on animals before implementing any new surgical operation to human bodies. However, Canavero mentioned a few tests he and his team did to animals. For example, last year they had successfully grafted a head onto the body of a monkey, but there is no total number (of these tests). Neither has any medical authority claimed to have granted them any approval.

Therefore, the attempt to do the "operation" on living humans must be put under strict regulation. Maybe we can hold a more tolerant view towards experimental "operations", but when it comes to real operations, professionals, the media and supervisors must all be cautious.

Zhang Tiankan, vice-chief editor of Encyclopedia magazine and a former medical researcher

Canavero said he would do the head transplant on living humans. Let's assume he had successfully done it and the person survived after the operation.

A new problem would then emerge: Who is the new person? Is he the previous head owner or the previous body owner? The biological, ethical, and legal affairs involved will be unprecedentedly complicated.

Biologically, the person would suffer from chaos because his/her mind resided in the head, but his/her body belonged to someone else. When he/she looked at the new body, which happens every hour, the self-recognition problem might be a big challenge for him/her.

Ethically, if the person who received the operation married and had children, that would be a very big problem because the children inherited DNA from the body. Should the children be considered the new person's children? Would he/she accept the children?

None of the above-listed problems are as big as the legal one. Whose identity should he/she inherit, the head's or the body's? Whose property? Whose family? Would the person be given a new social security number, or should he/she use the old number of either the head or the body owner's?

Luckily, none of the above will happen in the near future, because there is no medical authority openly issuing approval for a head transplant on any living human yet. I hope the medical authorities will be as cautious as they always are, because such a transplant would cause many more problems than benefits.

Beijing-Xiongan intercity railway being planned

Planners are seeking public opinion on an intercity railway linking Beijing and Xiongan New Area in North China's Hebei province, which revealed that a new high-speed rail line is being planned between the two cities.

China Railway Design Corp (CRDC), a subsidiary of China Railway Corp, released an announcement last week seeking public comment till Thursday on the Gu'an East Railway Station and Bazhou North Railway Station in Langfang, North China's Hebei province, that would be built along the new line, according to the website of the People's Government of Langfang Municipal.

The announcement said the intercity line will start at Liying Railway Station in Beijing's Daxing district, pass through Beijing's new airport and Langfang and terminate at Xiongan Railway Station in Xiongxian county.

It's been said that the line will be put into use in 2019, which is also when the capital's new airport in Beijing's southern Daxing District is expected to open, according to Beijing News.

It also said a single trip from Beijing to Xiongan on the line will be cut to about 30 minutes by then.

About a month ago, China Railway Corp invited domestic and foreign design enterprises to submit first-class architectural designs for the Xiongan Railway Station.

It said the station, covering about 100,000 square meters, will be a modern transportation hub to satisfy people's needs and provide high-quality public services.

Contact the writer at: zhangyu1@chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing issues blue alert for smog

BEIJING -- Beijing issued a blue alert for heavy air pollution, forecasting smog from late Monday.

The alert, effective from 3:30 pm, is forecast to last one day, according to a statement by the city's air pollution emergency response office.

A blue alert means heavy pollution with an average air quality index (AQI) of over 200 for 24 hours, according to the city's color-coded four-tier system for air pollution.

PM 2.5 is forecast to exceed 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air under the alert.

In neighboring Tianjin Municipality, a higher yellow alert was issued Monday, forecasting daily average AQI exceeding 200 for two consecutive days.

According to the municipal environmental protection bureau, it initiated an emergency response Monday, banning construction and fireworks. Emission of major pollutants must be reduced by 30 percent under the response.

Air quality will improve in the region late Tuesday when a cold front is expected.

Under China's four-tier alert system for pollution, red is the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

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