Japan[ese],  Q&A

Q&A: “I read your post about transphobia of Japan….”

anonymous said:

I read your post about transphobia of Japan. I identify myself as genderqueer and MtF lesbian. I tried to join the event for lesbians in Tokyo, but they rejected me at the entrance. Because, I have my beautiful beard and my ID says I am biologically male. I was there with my classy black dress, but they didn’t think me as woman! This is so transphobic! Also, I think the term lesbian itself is very transphobic. TERF lesbians should go to hell. We need safe space for queer and non-binary in Japan!

i’m really sorry to hear about the shitty experience that you had, anon. sadly, it’s not the first time that i’ve heard of someone having this experience and i suspect that i might even know the event that you tried to go to. it’s incredibly frustrating how a lot of LG(BT) spaces / events in Japan are gendered, binarist, cissexist and / or transphobic…

i respectfully disagree that the word “lesbian” itself is transphobic, however. it’s my personal opinion that people (such as TERFs) are transphobic and transphobic people can and do use words in transphobic ways, but the word “lesbian” in and of itself isn’t transphobic.

having said that, i totally agree with you that TERFs (by they lesbian or not) can and should fuck off.

speaking of safe places for queer and non-binary people in Japan, there’s actually a great event going right now as i type this. it’s called ジェンダーフリーパーティー X (Gender Free Party X). it’s an event specifically made for trans / non-binary people (although anyone is free to attend) that’s held a few times a year in Tokyo. i’ve gone to one of their events in the past and i can’t recommend it enough if you’re a trans / non-binary person in Japan who wants to meet other trans / non-binary people or just be in a non-gendered space where people are conscious and accepting of gender variance.

if by chance you see this in time, perhaps you could even check it out tonight? otherwise, i’m sure another party will be held again in a few months time and perhaps i’ll even see you there? 😉 you can keep up on when the next event will be held by following or periodically checking the event’s Twitter, here.

that event aside, it can be really hard to find safe, inclusive spaces / events… there are a few “mix bars” (ミックスバー) in Ni Chome that anyone regardless of gender or sexuality are welcome in, but i can’t think of a particular one off the top of my head to recommend. there are also Xジェンダー (non-binary) / trans specific オフ会 (meetups), but you usually have to find out about them via word of mouth or Twitter. lastly, there are also LGBT cafes in Tokyo like CoCoLo Cafe and Café Lavandería, which are great places to grab a bite to eat, read a book or hangout with friends. Café Lavandería in particular sometimes has great live music with occasional spoken word and other artistic events, but i highly recommend them both if you just want a safe space without the goal of actually meeting new people.

anyway, i totally feel your pain, anon. it really, really pisses me off how gendered, transphobic, cissexist, etc things are here… i keep telling my cis lesbian Japanese friends why going to lesbian events with them makes me uncomfortable because i know i’m literally only allowed through the door based on being misgendered as female– that if i didn’t “”appear female”” to them, they totally would not even let me in– but they don’t seem to understand how upsetting that or the transphobia etc in general is…. there are, of course, lesbians in Japan who aren’t like that and who are accepting of trans / non-binary people, but general awareness of trans / non-binary anything is so poor in Japan to begin with, making finding such people hard… sigh.

hang in there, anon. things are slowly but surely getting better as Xジェンダー / trans people in Japan are slowly but surely creating spaces and events for ourselves to combat the current state of the LG(BT) community in Japan. it takes a lot of time, patience and effort, but i hope you can find safe spaces for yourself in the meantime.

all the best!

edit: ah, one more thing that i only just remembered. i recently found out that Gold Finger, a well-known lesbian bar in Ni Chome, has an “LGBT Karaoke Night” every Friday night where they open up the bar to everyone. i hesitate to mention Gold Finger at all, though, because they have been known to not allow trans women into their bar when it’s a “women only” night or into their monthly parties… chances are high that the event that you were turned away from may have been affiliated with them. that said, it’s an option that exists in a country with so few options at all, so i thought i’d throw it out there with that cautionary tidbit of information for people to decide for themself whether to go or not. there’s also an “FTM Night” on Mondays for those interested in that.

YouTuber and Blogger, Vesper is an American expat currently living in Japan.

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