Fri, Jan 29, 2010 - Page 14 News List

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By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

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Private information leaked onto the Internet has provided ample material for Taiwan’s gossip rags, but the most recent scandal surrounding the posting of transsexual TV host Li Ching’s (利菁) medical history on a public Web site has hit all kinds of nerves in the entertainment and media industries.

The entertainer, whose real name is Regine Wu Ming-enn

(吳明恩), has repeatedly claimed to have been a hermaphrodite who opted to become a woman. She has long insisted that while she did not plan on having children, she was physically capable of becoming pregnant. A medical report from the doctor who is said to have performed the surgery claims that Wu was a man who had a sex-change operation.

Wu has consistently stated that she is a woman, and has rebuffed all suggestions that she is in fact a transsexual. The controversy surrounding her claims has even led local transsexual artist Hsue-er (雪兒) and South Korean transsexual star Harisu (河莉秀) to attack her for not supporting her own. The new revelations refute Wu’s own story of starting life as a hermaphrodite, but she has vehemently denied any acquaintance with the doctor Chang Chi-Chung (張啟中), whose article detailing Wu’s sex-change procedure was posted online.

The Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reported Wednesday that the Department of Health (衛生署) would investigate Chang’s behavior, which may be considered illegal. Chang insists that he published the details in a specialist journal for the benefit of medical professionals, and has no idea how the material was disseminated on the Internet.

The leak and the subsequent media frenzy over details of Wu’s sex change (which, let’s face it, is just a minor twist on what is pretty much old news) follows in the wake of revelations earlier in the week that model and aspiring actress Alicia Liu (劉薰愛) was also a man. The revelation was made by a high school classmate. Liu held a press conference on Jan. 15 to reveal that she had undergone a sex change at 18, stating that she was happy with the way she was now. Liu has won overwhelming support from colleagues in the entertainment industry.

Big S (大S), otherwise known as Barbie Hsu (徐熙媛), has taken a step on a new career path. Despite negative reviews for her television soap Summer of Bubbles (泡沫之夏), in which she stars together with TV idol Peter Ho (何潤東), Chinese interests have approached Hsu and her leading man as product spokespersons for a range of wedding apparel. According to Next Magazine, the deal is worth NT$10 million each.

Hsu has also hit the headlines for a series of new pro-vegetarian ads for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia. One poster features Hsu striking an assertive pose in unbuttoned cut-off shorts and a rack-enhancing tank top with the words “Powered by Tofu” against a slogan “I Am Barbie Hsu, and I Am a Vegetarian.” A second poster has her in cute mode and cuddling up to a little piglet, with the words “Compassion is beautiful. Go vegetarian.”

“Animals are like my brothers and sisters, my friends and my family,” the TV personality said in a PETA statement. Hsu was voted Asia’s Sexiest Vegetarian woman in PETA’s 2009 poll, so whether or not her endorsement is going to turn the otaku hordes of Taiwan into passionate chickpea-munching animal lovers, is certainly something to watch. The unbuttoned shorts are clearly the key.

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