Those who were posting news and comments about the homicide on Weibo were threatened, as the authorities try to hide the existence of hate crimes in China.
by Chen Tao
On March 9, the murder of a transgender person took place in Wuhan Paradise Walk (武汉江宸天街), a large shopping center in downtown Wuhan. The victim was a transgender woman, who was killed in the afternoon with a knife by a man while she was using the men’s restroom in accordance with her biological sex.
The picture of the crime circulating on the Internet shows that the deceased was wearing women’s clothes and knee-high boots. Her clothes had been stripped off when she fell to the ground, so many netizens thought the deceased was a woman when the news first came out.
But soon the police preliminary notification which spread on Weibo revealed that the murder was committed with a knife at 3 p.m. on March 9 in the men’s restroom on the 4th floor of Paradise Walk. The 19-year-old male suspect Zhang and the 21-year-old victim Luo did not know each other before. They started a verbal dispute, resulting in a bloody violent clash. The victim died on the spot.
The police notification was issued at 5:30 p.m., and stated that Luo was male and an employee of a restaurant in the Paradise Walk. So many netizens understood that the deceased was a transgender woman who was using the men’s restroom based on her biological sex, and speculated that it was probably a hate crime born out of transphobia.
After the incident, Weibo users condemned the killer and debated the issue of transgender rights in China. Some netizens posted posters calling attention to hate crimes against transgender people in China.
However, the discussion was immediately suppressed by the authorities’ Internet control department. Topics such as “Wuhan Paradise Walk murder case,” “Wuhan Paradise Walk murder,” and even simply “Wuhan Paradise Walk” were blocked. Netizens were confronted with a message that, “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the topic page is not displayed.”
A transgender blogger named “Lizzy Ma Lulu,” who had tried to generate attention for the case on Weibo, also deleted her earlier Weibo post exposing the incident, claiming that she had received a phone call from Wuhan police. “Because the suspect’s behavior was too bad and the scene was very bloody, and the suspect has been caught on the spot and is being interrogated about the motive of the crime, so to avoid the impact on the victim’s family, as well as not to affect the police investigation work, I deleted that previous microblogging, please wait patiently for the police notice,” “Lizzy Ma Lulu” said in the comment section of Weibo.
She also posted, “Please wait patiently for the police notice, the final case results will also be posted simultaneously on the magistrate’s office site.” But at the time of this writing, Wuhan police still had not made any public statements on the matter, and the official Weibo page of Wuhan Paradise Walk had not been updated since 5:32 p.m. on March 9th.
Bitter Winter has also received reports from several Wuhan residents being warned by police over the phone to delete their posts with videos and pictures related to this murder. Police threatened them with legal consequences if they did not remove the posts about the homicide.
In a democratic country, citizens have different views on what toilets transgender people should use and whether they should be allowed to access toilets that are different from those intended for their biological sex. Murder, however, is a different matter. No one would approve of murders that target transgender persons as it happened in Wuhan. And it seems that the Chinese Communist Party, which has always tried to ignore LGBT rights and claims, has taken the worst possible attitude on this issue—hiding the facts and pretending that the problem does not exist.