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Yinyang ren (traditional Chinese 陰陽人, simplified Chinese 阴阳人, Pinyin yīnyáng rén) is a category of gender identity and gender role is used in Chinese society for people (rén) who are both feminine (yin qualities) and masculine (yang qualities) in about equal proportions. Such a person has a bisexual sexual orientation, and expresses androgynous behaviors and attitudes that are associated with women as well as men.
The main example of a yinyang ren is in the 18th century Chinese novel The Dream of the Red Chamber. The main character Baoyu was assigned male at birth, expresses many gender nonconforming behaviors from early childhood, and grows to feel attraction to women as well as men. Though Baoyu doesn't deny that he is a man, he is said to behave in a more feminine way around women, and in a more masculine way around men. Other characters explain that Baoyu's androgynous behavior means that he was infused with a perfectly equal amount of yin and yang energy before he was born, rather than an uneven proportion of these energies like most people receive. Baoyu's androgyny makes some challenges for him, but his family is supportive. They encourage Baoyu's preference to socialize mostly with women, because he has a more difficult time getting along with men. For this reason, the novel is all about the lives of the women who are his friends. Marginal notes in the original manuscripts of the novel indicate that nearly every character was strongly based on a real person, and that Baoyu was based on the author, Cao Xueqin. In Chinese culture, this piece of literature has a similar level of cultural value and status as the works of Shakespeare have in English. In China, an entire field of study, called "Redology" in English, is based on examining this novel. This is a very culturally significant piece of literature featuring a gender nonconforming protagonist.
- Gender-variant identities worldwide
- Glossary of Chinese gender and sex terminology