Tracing Dystopian Insta-Emotions Among Hong Kong Trans Men

Denise Tse-Shang TANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Digital media is often understood as the primary platform to open up new social worlds for transgender men. The plethora of information from DIY videos on testosterone injections to daily transition vlogs has seen transgender men creating, developing, and curating themselves on digital platforms. This study focuses on the representation of Hong Kong trans men on digital media. The ongoing COVID pandemic has conjured up a wide array of cultural imaginations on the end of the world. Hong Kong has also long collected global imaginations of dystopia, cyberpunk, and science fiction. Under this larger context, I draw upon McKenzie and Patulny’s (2021) notion of dystopia as “a process, a practice, a method of understanding and critiquing” to examine dystopian emotions among Hong Kong trans men through digital ethnographic fieldwork on Instagram and face-to-face in-depth interviews in 2020–2021. I argue that dystopia beliefs lay the groundwork for Insta-emotions to emerge, in overt and subversive ways, that speak to the resilience of transgender men.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2535-2553
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Early online dateMar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments: First and foremost, I wish to thank the informants for sharing their life stories with me. I am grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. I also thank participants and organizers from the Queer Cultures in Digital Asia symposium for their constructive feedback. This research study, Being Trans and Masculine: A Comparative Ethnography of Trans Men in Bangkok and Hong Kong (Project No.: 13604919), is supported by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council, General Research Fund (2020–2022).


  • transmen
  • Instagram
  • Chinese transgender men
  • dystopian emotions
  • shame
  • feelings
  • social media


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