Investigating the intimate relationships of Queer Chinese women migrants in the UK

Investigating the intimate relationships of Queer Chinese women migrants in the UK   

Two women kiss behind a LGBTQ+ pride flag

To celebrate Pride Month, we are sharing some of the LGBTQ+ research taking place in our Department at the moment.

In recent years, there has been a striking increase in the numbers of Chinese one-child generation students (those who were born under the one-child policy in mainland China from 1979 to 2015), especially female students, coming to pursue higher education in the UK and staying for professional development after graduation.

DPhil student Scarlett Ng's research explores how migration intersects with sexuality, providing insights into these women’s life course trajectories and family lives in two societies: the UK and China.

By using constructivist grounded theory methodology and qualitative methods, including participant observation and in-depth interviews, this doctoral research investigates the narratives and experiences of queer women from the Chinese one-child generation who have migrated to the UK.

The research specifically examines the role of sexuality as an important dimension in exploring this specific generation of women migrants’ romantic/sexual relationships, intergenerational negotiation, (unconventional) family formation, and citizenship rights. 

The first chapter of Scarlett's thesis has been presented at a British Sociological Association Conference and in a public lecture on Gender and Sexuality at the School of Laws at Sheffield University.

Scarlett Ng presents her research at the School of Law, University of Sheffield

Scarlett presents her work at the University of Sheffield

The chapter focuses on Chinese queer women’s perceptions of their upbringings in relation to family relationships and sexuality, and the role that sexuality plays in their education migration decision-making in the context of one-child policy and urban middle-to-upper class families’ parenting. It pinpoints the heterogeneity and complexities of the women’s experiences, understanding, and navigation of sexuality, intimacy, and migration decision-making.

Scarlett explains that the novelty of the research, as well as its comparative and transnational analysis, yield a fertile ground for conceptual and theoretical innovation.

She added:

I hope my findings provide crucial recommendations to policymakers in improving social environment and legal policies and building a more inclusive environment for queer migrants. This contributes towards a sustainable development and the wellbeing of queer migrants in the UK.

Scarlett will be presenting further chapters of her DPhil thesis at this year's American Sociological Association Conference.

In her spare time, she has worked with a range of organisations including the Migration Museum UK, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Queer China UK and the QTI Coalition of Colour, hosting seminars and workshops on gender, sexuality, migration, feminism and discrimination laws in the UK. In 2022, she co-directed the Queer Asia Film Festival, which received over 1,000 submissions from 88 countries.

Scarlett also presented during the 'Researching the Rainbow' Panel during the 2021 National Student Pride, the largest LGBT+ student event in the UK:


You can get in touch with Scarlett via email.