iQiyi spokesman Zhang Yixing Photo: IC


Chinese singer and dancer Zhang Yixing, better known as Lay Zhang, and his company Chromosome Entertainment began trending on Chinese social media on Tuesday after adding “other” as an option under gender on its trainee application form.

A snapshot titled “2021 Chromosome Entertainment Trainee application from” went viral on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Tuesday. The form shows that the section for gender includes male, female and other, which means all genders are welcome to apply. 

The Hashtag “Lay Zhang’s agency recruits third gender trainees” had earned 130 million views on Sina Weibo as of Tuesday afternoon. Many Chinese netizens gave thumbs-up to Zhang, commenting that “his behavior shows China is having a more tolerant attitude toward the LGBTQ community.”

“He did a very good job when it comes to showing respect and tolerance. Zhang is leading the example on how to respect everyone with dreams of entering the entertainment industry and outputting healthy values to the public without any bias,” one Chinese netizen commented on Sina Weibo.

However, some netizens expressed concerns about subsequent problems including arranging trainees’ living areas if Zhang’s company recruits third gender trainees.  

Guo Xiaofei, a teacher who specializes in the study of gay rights at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Zhang’s behavior is the beginning of a breakthrough in gender binary opposition. 

“It is certainly worthwhile for more companies to learn from him in gender binary opposition. Of course, it is not just a question of options on a form, but a challenge in life,” said Guo.

Guo added that this is not the first case in China. Some lawyers have said that some courts have “other” options for gender on their forms.

“Many opinions in the world need to be adjusted and are experiencing adjustment according to the development of society. Just like in the past, we fought for women’s education rights, and now that has come true,” Guo explained.

On October 7, 2020, Zhang officially launched his own entertainment agency, Changsha Chromosome Entertainment Group Company, which is focused on finding new talented trainees including dancers, singers, actors and models. It recently launched its Spring Recruitment Plan.