For all the gender non-conforming healthcare workers and care providers who have been putting their lives on the line for our communities during the pandemic.
This beloved legend behind a Beijing custom dates back to before the 17th century:
"So it was said, in a certain year, a deadly epidemic suddenly swept through Beijing. Almost every household was struck, and there was no cure for the disease. [ Moon deity] Chang' E saw what was happening, and being very grieved, she sent her companion the Jade Hare to Earth to heal the people.
Jade Hare transformed into a teenage girl, and went from house to house curing patients. The people, in their gratitude, offered many gifts to them, but Jade Hare wanted none of that. They only took from each household a set of clothing, changing their outfit each time they moved on to a new location. Sometimes they appeared as a man; sometimes they appeared as a woman.
To reach more people, Jade Hare rode on a horse, a deer, a lion and a tiger. They covered all of the capital and its suburbs. Jade Hare returned to the Moon Palace after the pestilence was eradicated.
From then on, people made clay idols of Jade Hare, some riding a deer, some riding a phoenix, some dressed in armor, some dressed as artisans and tradespeople. On the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, each household lays offerings of fruit, vegetables and legumes on the deity's altar, to thank them for bringing blessing and happiness to the human world. The people fondly address them as Sir Hare or Dame Hare."
In 2012, Ningbo Laipite Cultural Media Company produced an 11-minute cartoon retelling the Sir/Dame Hare legend. At 8:38, the narrator states, "Sometimes [Jade Hare] is a woman, sometimes [Jade Hare] is a man."
Although this legend and its associated observances are local to Beijing, stories of the Jade Hare are told all over China and beyond. Theories of the Jade Hare's origin vary. There is no consensus as to its gender.