It took over 70 years for Xin Yue to realise that she wanted to become a woman.
It was only in February this year that the 72-year-old decided to undergo breast implant and vagina reconstruction surgery in China’s Guangdong province.
“I have completed my wish to become a woman,” she said after her surgery, according to news outlet China Daily.
Xin, who is from Beijing, had to complete a series of tests and answer more than 1,000 questions to ensure she was ready for gender reassignment.
Under Chinese law, patients also need to get approval from their direct relatives before they can undergo sex reassignment surgery
Both Xin’s wife and daughter were in full support of her decision.
“(Our daughter) joked that she would have two mothers,” Leng Rui, Xin Yue’s wife told the Southern Metropolis Daily.
According to Xin, she still lives together with her wife.
“In the future, my wife and I can use the term ‘sister’ for each other. We will still live together,” she said.
Xin grew up with two brothers and was often dressed like a girl because her parents wanted a daughter. She was given the nickname Er gu niang, or “second girl.”
Xin eventually got married and the couple had a child three years after marriage.
But it was only after her retirement in 2002 that she eventually came across a forum for LGBTQ people and realised she was transgender.
After undergoing the surgery, Xin says she now feels like a woman in “her 30s.”
Chinese netizens were quick to come out in support of Xin, with many hailing her decision.
“She’s brave to do this on her own. I wish her happiness and health in old age,” said one netizen on Weibo.
“Her lifetime is finally considered complete. What a blessing!” said another.
However, not everyone was fully supportive of her decision.
“Why did the parents have to dress up a boy as a girl, leading to the child’s gender ambiguity? We should teach gender education,” said one netizen.
“There are a lot of people in support here… I don’t understand. How do you think the wife feels? She’s going to spend the rest of her life as a joke,” another added.
China appears to be taking some steps toward supporting LGBTQ rights, with the country allowing the screening of the film Moonlight and stopping the classification of homosexuality as a psychological disorder.
Still, same-sex marriages or civil unions are still not recognised in the country. LGBTQ topics remain taboo across more traditional parts of the country.