TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In an exclusive interview, offshore wind farm senior manager Kim Asher shared her experience as a foreign transgender woman living in Taiwan as well as her take on how the country’s policies and ways society can improve to promote diversity and inclusion.
Asher, who believes herself to be the only transgender woman in the world building offshore wind farms, said her identity had made her career difficult in almost every country in the world. “The only country I’ve ever worked in where that is not the case is Taiwan.”
“Everyone who is Taiwanese has accepted me. I’ve never had any discrimination, nothing bad said to me or about me,” Asher told Taiwan News. “Taiwanese people in general are fantastic, filled with compassion.”
She added, “I’ve never had any problem with a single Taiwanese person about my gender identity or my sexual orientation… I’m proud to call [Taiwan] my home, I expect to stay here for the rest of my life. I love this country.”
In terms of representation in the media, Asher was all praise. “The fact that I am sitting here as a transgender woman, a foreigner speaking English on Taiwanese media, is an enormous, enormous thing that says Taiwan is trying to get it right.”
“There are several countries in the world where my existence is even illegal. So for me to sit here and express my viewpoints is a fantastic endorsement of what a liberal and democratic society (it is) here,” she added.
However, there are still places for improvement, Asher said, such as the role of women in society. As a transgender woman, she observed a “massive difference” between what Taiwanese society expects from men and women, saying, “There’s nothing to do with skill or hard work or discipline or experience. It’s purely about people’s perceptions about the role of women in society.”
Another area for improvement is Taiwan’s bureaucracy, which has a long history that reaches as far as imperial China, according to Asher. While culture should be recognized, it should also be accepted that, in the modern world, some ways of doing things need to change.
“For example, for me, as a transgender woman, all of my foreign documentation is now, legally, I am a woman, I have my name, Kim Asher… but, in Taiwan, my paperwork still says I’m a man and has my dead name,” she said.
Asher also mentioned Taiwan’s traditional familial structures that try to have younger generations conform to behaviors in conflict with liberal and democratic values as something that can be improved. Taiwanese families still struggle to deal with issues such as LGBT identities, gender identities, sexual orientation, expectations about marriage, family, and ownership, as well as women’s role in the family.