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The aim of this paper is to uncover and highlight the forced effeminization of male Chinese immigrants and the consequences of this process during the Chinese Exclusion Act Era. The Chinese Exclusion Act Era is defined by a period of time within American history in which strict and scrutinizing laws were created with the aim of restricting access to the United States for Chinese people. Additionally, these laws aimed to restrict the freedom the Chinese people might have had whilst living their lives in America if they ever were to make it through such oppressive borders. The most notable of such laws was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was not officially repealed until 1943.2 The harsh treatment of Chinese people in America was, regardless, very persistent both before and after this time period. This was neither the first nor last law to target the ethnic group, but was largely only repealed in order to repay China for their assistance as an ally during World War II. This paper will begin by enumerating some of the legislature that made life in America so difficult for Chinese immigrants, and will simultaneously examine how women– or a lack thereof– was used to emasculate men. It will then delve into how examinations and social constructs played a role in further persecution of Chinese men undergoing the selection process at the border, and conclude with a look at how the job market for Chinese men embodied all of this. As a result, the never-ending loop of the effeminization of Chinese Men will be revealed, for no matter where these men turned within American society, it was unavoidable.


Undergraduate Research Awards - 2023 Winner, FY/Sophomore category