TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A transgender internet influencer has generated a firestorm of criticism in Taiwan's medical community for posting photos of an alleged experimental "pregnancy."
On Thursday evening (Feb. 18), 28-year-old transgender internet celebrity Chiang Chia-wen (江嘉文), who goes by the handle Wang Yao (罔腰), posted a photo showing her abdomen starting to protrude and an alleged ultrasound appearing to show a fetus. In her post, Chiang cryptically wrote, "The reason why I have been going out less with my friends recently is I am preparing to retreat."
Chiang's boyfriend, Wu Hung-i (吳泓逸), who goes by the handle "Pineapple," posted a photo of her belly and wrote, "It is said that pointed (bellies) mean that it's a boy, rounded (bellies) mean it's a girl. You're an ox." Chiang also uploaded a photo of an ultrasound printout that appears to indicate that it was taken at Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital (KMUH).
Many netizens expressed doubts that such a pregnancy was possible, especially since they did not believe Chiang had undergone a uterus transplant. Wu then claimed on Instagram the pregnancy was the result of an expensive experimental procedure.
(Instagram, Wang Yao photo)
Liu Yueh-ping (劉越萍), head of the Ministry of Health and Welfare's (MOHW) Department of Medical Affairs told CNA that pregnancy without a uterus is "absurd." He emphasized that no trial case of uterus transplantation has been approved in Taiwan and the incident will be investigated.
Liu said that although there is one hospital that has applied to the ministry to carry out uterus transplant experiments on humans, it has yet to receive approval due to ethical concerns and its implications under the Artificial Reproduction Act. He said that it is unlikely that any hospital would be willing to expose itself to the legal risks involved in carrying out such a high-risk procedure.
(Instagram, Wu Hung-i photo)
The official stressed that all pregnancies, whether natural or via a surrogate, must take place in the uterus. Abdominal ectopic pregnancies, such as could be the case with Chiang, are very dangerous and could cause death at any time, said Liu.
She said that because of the high mortality rate associated with abdominal pregnancies and the low survival rate of the fetus, doctors usually take swift action to terminate the pregnancy. She then criticized the internet celebrity for acting as if it was "no big deal," and said that it was inappropriate to mislead the public with such a stunt.
(Instagram, Wang Yao photo)
Famed obstetrician Su Yi-ning (蘇怡寧) responded to Chiang's controversial "pregnancy" on Facebook by writing "based on medical common sense, I just have one comment, I wish you the best, but don't talk nonsense."
Regarding the printout of the ultrasound image, KMUH denied having any medical record of Chiang or documentation of her undergoing treatment at the gynecology and obstetrics department. The department head, Lung Cheng-yu (龍震宇) said the ultrasound image Chiang posted did not follow the format used by the hospital.
Lung added that without a uterus, the odds of pregnancy occurring and an infant reaching full term are infinitesimal. On Friday (Dec. 19), Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) warned that if any of Chiang's posts advertise medical services, she could face a fine of up to NT$250,000 for violating Article 84 of the Medical Care Act (醫療法).
In addition, the MOHW said that if it was found that Chiang had spread false information, she could face charges for violating the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法). The ministry said it will investigate the incident and determine the appropriate penalties, if necessary.