Hey Vesper. I’m a non-binary transman (fledgling danso) living in Japan. I came here very recently, at the end of July, so it’s been about 2 months now. I’ve been curious about finding other non-binary or trans individuals that I could be friends with to generally explore the lgbt and non-binary parts of Japanese life, culture, and society. Any recommendations for meeting or making friends with other trans/non-binary either Japanese or gaijin in Japan?
Second part of my question. I’ve considered using mixi, but I have no idea how it works and while I’m decent at conversational Japanese, reading it is another story. I’m also hesitant to come out as non-binary trans to Japanese people because the concepts seem to be underdeveloped in Japan, Japanese people don’t seem to know what to do with non-binary/trans individuals. And it’s hard for me to come out to my cis friends (caution: my tumblr is nsfw thought I should mention)
hi and a belated welcome to Japan. 🙂 it sounds like you might be a JET, although please correct me if i’m wrong. i hope things are going well for you thus far. since i don’t know whereabouts you live, the bulk of my advice is going to be rather generic and mostly about online stuff.
when it comes to meeting people and making friends, be they gaijin or Japanese, the internet is your best resource imho.
if you’re a JET, chances are you’ve already heard of Stonewall Japan. Stonewall is an LGBT group that is easily one of the biggest groups of its kind in Japan and is by fair and large made up of JETs and JET Alumni. since it’s such a large group, Stonewall chapters exist all over Japan and thus may be your easiest bet at finding people near you to connect with. do bear in mind that the group is predominantly comprised of cis people, though, so you may not necessarily find many trans or non-binary people in your area.
…having said all that, i feel obligated to also point out that Stonewall Japan, more specifically the Stonewall Japan Facebook group, has not been a very safe place for trans / non-binary and QPOC as of late…. there’s be a lot of drama going on in recent months and as such, i’m honestly very hesitant to even recommend it to you at all. i’m mostly doing so because their site does have resources that may be helpful to you and because you’ve likely already heard of them before anyway. the sad truth is that Stonewall is the easiest means of making LGBT friends and connections among gaijin in Japan if you live outside of Tokyo, making it a rather invaluable resource. just keep in mind that the Facebook group and the group’s administration can be…. ugh at times.
actually, if you’re on Facebook, you might be interested in joining a Japanese trans group that i’m a member of. let me know and i can invite you.
if you do happen to live in the Tokyo / Kanto area, i very much recommend checking out the Tokyo LGBTQIAP+ and Supporters meetup group. next to Stonewall, it’s the biggest LGBT group for gaijin that i know of in Japan. again, as seemingly is always the case, the group is predominantly comprised of cis people, but it’s a very large and diverse group. if you have the chance to go to one of their larger events like their picnics you’ll meet a wide variety of people, including some Japanese people. the organizers are also really nice people and are open to suggestions for improvement. more so than Stonewall, imho…
ah, another thing that i should throw out there: there is a trans and non-binary Skype group for gaijin which usually meets for a group call once a month to just task, address any questions people have and/or vent about stuff. if this is something that you’re interested in, let me know as i’ll have to refer you to the group’s leader privately.
while i’m at it, i also want to throw out there that i’ve been considering starting a non-binary group on the app LINE. it’d be a way to bring all the various non-binary / trans people that i know together into one place so we can chat, organize meetups and provide resources to others such as yourself…. chances are high that i’m going to make such a group (just need to stop dragging my feet about it), but either way if you have any questions about Japan in general or just would like to chat, you could add me on LINE if you like. my ID is “nighstar” (with one ‘t’).
when it comes to meeting Japanese trans and / or non-binary (Xジェンダー) people, that’s much trickier…. in my experience, there is far less organization within both trans and Xジェンダー communities in Japanese…. to the point that i hesitate to even use the word “communities” at all because there isn’t “community” in the same sense as can be found in English spaces. aside from Label X, communities that exist are very much offline and local, usually findable via word of mouth.
i’ve managed to meet some people online through Twitter and Mixi, but quite honestly Mixi is a piece of shit of a site. navigating it is hard even if your Japanese is decent and it’s not even that active anymore anyway. many of the offline opportunities that i’ve had to meet Japanese Xジェンダー people (my personal experience lies more with Xジェンダー than trans) has been thanks to following people on Twitter. if you use Twitter and would like some recommendations of people to follow, let me know.
as for the latter part of your ask about coming out to Japanese people, i don’t know if this will be of any consolation to you, but… while it is true that Japan as a country and Japanese society is waaaaayyyyyyyyy behind when it comes to trans awareness, let alone non-binary awareness, when it comes to coming out to people on a person-by-person basis i feel like there really isn’t a lot of difference between coming out to someone in Japan vs America, for example. at least when it comes to how a person responds. there are people who will take it well, there are people who will struggle with it for an infinite number of reasons all of which tend to be based on similar shit regardless of the country, religion, culture, etc. that said, obviously in Japan you will face the added difficulty of language and cultural barriers and such barriers can present significant challenges. having said that, everything that would apply when coming out to someone in your home country still applies here. only come out if you want to and time it to when you feel it appropriate and safe to do so. as you’ve only been in Japan for 2 months, it’s definitely worth considering how well you know and how much you trust anyone that you’re considering coming out to. never forget that you don’t have to come out to anyone if you don’t want to, but if you do you are in total control of the how and the when etc of it all. take your time with it.
sorry for the tl;dr response, but i hope it helps. you may be interested in checking out my #trans in Japan tag or my #nonbinary in Japan tag, but it’s newer and has fewer posts. thsee posts (in no particular order) especially may be of interest: [ 1 ] . [ 2 ] . [ 3 ] . [ 4 ]
all the best!