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Lan spent years trapped between two identities: the male gender assigned to her at birth and the woman she was inside — a living “torture” in a China not yet ready to fully embrace transgenders. The Shanghai native, who asked that her full name be withheld, misled friends and family with a macho facade but eventually, depressed by her identity crisis, underwent gender-reassignment surgery in 2015. “I was always between those two voices,” said Lan, 31, looking prim in a blue blouse and shoulder-length auburn hair.

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