one of my least favorite things to do is attempt to explain in Japanese to a (usually LGB) cisgender Japanese person that:
1. no, セクシャリティー / “”sexuality”“ is not the same thing as gender. they usually get it once i explain it, but it’s still ugh because that inevitably spills over into:
2. no, オネエ / “onee” and / or ニューハーフ / “newhalf” is not synonymous with “transgender”
and then when i use the word トランスジェンダー / lit. “transgender” from English– because i refuse to use any of the other Japanese words available– the person i’m talking to automatically thinks of ニューハーフ / “newhalf” (if i’m lucky) even when i’m not talking specifically about women who happen to be trans. i hate how bothトランスジェンダー / transgender and 性同一性障害者 / people with gender identity disorder– the most common way to refer to trans people in general– seemingly always make people think only of ニューハフ / “newhalf”– ie. people who were assigned male at birth but who are women and who have undergone various medical treatment and who present femininely, because as far as Japanese society cares you’re only a trans woman ニューハーフ / “newhalf” if you pursue those things AND present femininely to a standard that even cis women aren’t held to.
i mean seriously, anything related to being trans OR anything deemed to be gender non-conformity (because Japan often makes no distinction between actual gender, identity and expression) is most often thought of as synonymous with AMAB people and femininity. trans men, AFAB non-binary people, people who do 男装 / present masculinely and / or as men might as well not even exist because they’re always in the shadow of feminine AMAB people in Japanese society at large and in the セクマイ / LGBT community– to the detriment of not only AFAB trans, non-binary and / or gender non-conforming people but also to AMAB trans, non-binary and / or gender non-conforming people who don’t present in a way that’s viewed as feminine. speaking specifically of the aforementioned AFAB people, though, it feels like the invisibility is such that no one even remembers that AFAB people being trans and / or non-binary is even a thing unless reminded of it.
hell, i feel like even people in the ビアン / lesbian community are guilty of this. if you are assumed to be AFAB and you present in a way that is assumed to be masculine or ボーイッシュ / boyish– a term taken from English that’s commonly used here– then you’re quickly assumed to a “boyish” girl, a トムボーイ / tomboy (still a girl) and / or a タチ / “tachi” (kinda similar to “butch” in English– still a girl). not even for a second will anyone question that maybe, just maybe, you’re not a girl / woman (or a lesbian) at all. the closest equivalent word to “trans man” in Japanese, オナベ / “onabe”, won’t even be in the back of anyone’s mind and i feel like the same could not be said of an assumed feminine, assumed AMAB person in the ゲイ / gay community. be it in the ビアン / lesbian community or ゲイ / gay community your gender is likely to not be immediately recognized for what it is, but* in the ゲイ / gay community acknowledgement of the existence of trans women, queens, etc is a common thing and words like ニューハーフ / “newhalf” or オネエ / “onee”, as ugh as they may be, are present in people’s minds. the same cannot be said of the situation for AFAB trans, non-binary and / or gender non-conforming people in the ビアン community where you’re always assumed to be some shade of “still just a girl / woman” unless you (repeatedly) assert otherwise, reminding them that not all AFAB people are some shade of girl / woman.
being trans, non-binary and / or gender non-conforming in Japan is shitty no matter what your AGAB is, but the invisibility and extreme lack of awareness of AFAB trans, non-binary and / or gender non-conforming people in Japan is its own unique kind of shitty imho. it’s literally like the only representation and / or awareness that any of us get is
the very niche 宝塚 / Takarazuka and …………………………………….. yeah. the idol group SECRET GUYZ has been adding to it a bit recently, but they’re still far from well known or mainstream.
this has been a rant brought to you by: me having to pointedly remind a Japanese cis lesbian friend last night that when i say transgender no, i do not mean ニューハーフ because NOT ALL TRANS PEOPLE ARE WOMEN and i wasn’t even talking specifically about trans women. sigh sigh.
*edit: and no, i am not trying to say that people who are assumed to be AMAB and feminine have it easier than people assumed to be AFAB and masculine in the ゲイ / gay and ビアン / lesbian community respectively. i’m just saying that the problems that said AMAB people face, such as having to battle misconceptions related to the prevalence of the words オネエ / “onee”, ニューハーフ / “newhalf” and their respective social baggage is different from the invisibility and complete lack of awareness that said AFAB people face. different, not better nor worse.