[A]sexuality,  Gender[queer],  Japan[ese],  Q&A,  Queer[ness]

Q&A: “Would you mind telling me some basic LGBT vocabulary in Japanese?”

hush-hush-little-heart said:

Hi! I just found out about your blog, and I’d like to ask you something. I’m part of the LGBT community, and next year I’m going to study a Japanese Philology at the university. Would you mind telling me some basic LGBT vocabulary in Japanese? Just so I can understand and talk a bit about it, please ♡ (I’m a trans boy, and pansexual btw :3)

oh also! (sorry i forgot to write it in the other ask) Do you know anything about getting hormones (testosterone, in my case) in Japan? Is it easy? Just in case, because I’d like to have a job/live there in a future, at least for some time


hi. 🙂 sorry for taking so long to get to your asks.

regarding LGBT terminology in Japanese, it’s a little hard to answer that question because it’s so broad…. so instead, i’m going to really keep it basic and i’m going to cheat by directing you to others’ stuff.

this site has a very basic list of terminology… in fact it’s a bit too basic and leaves out some important information, imho. for example, while there is a bit of caution here and there about using certain words that are considered derogatory, it neglects to mention that many lesbians consider レズ (”rezu”) to be derogatory and such that word should not be used. stick to the commonly used ビアン (”bian”) or レズビアン (”rezubian”) instead. also, オネエ (”onee”) has a similar (but still different) trajectory as a derogatory word as is explained under オカマ (”okama”) and while you will probably hear people say it both offline and on TV, i very much recommend that you don’t. same goes for the far less commonly used equivalent for trans men, オナベ (”onabe”); don’t use it. better to just say FtM (very commonly used in Japan) or トランス男性 (”toransu dansei”) / トランスジェンダーの男性 (”toransujendaa no dansei”) for ‘trans man’. also note that “pansexual” is パンセクシャル (”pansekusharu”) or 全性愛者 (”zenseiaisha”).

will also throw out there that you may find other relevant or useful terminology / information about being LGBT in Japan on my new page #LGBTQIA in Japan.

as for getting HRT (more specifically T) in Japan, if you’d be starting it in Japan rather than continuing a current prescription and / or if you’d be pursuing it with “F” as your legal gender marker, it’s not as easy to get it in Japan as it is in some countries, but it is still obtainable. how hard it’ll be for you to get it very much depends on where in Japan you live– countryside, small town vs major city, for example. there are also two different paths to getting HRT that will very much effect how easy or difficult it is to get T.

option 1: the legal, “official” way

in Japan, you cannot legally receive HRT without being diagnosed with GID (Gender Identity Disorder). to be diagnosed with GID, you have to go to 6 months of therapy with a licensed psychotherapist– the vast majority of which do not speak English and have a very conservative mindset when it comes to gender and gender roles that they often expect trans people to fulfill in order to “really” be trans…. there are certainly good therapists out there, but finding one who also speaks English and has the certification necessary to actually ‘diagnose’ you can be hard even in a big city like Tokyo. once you get the diagnosis, however, you then pay a largish sum of money for an official document that you can then take to a Gender Clinic or other medical facility to have blood tests done and get T administered as a shot usually every two weeks by a professional. patches are unavailable and i’ve heard that they will not let you administer the shot yourself, so if you live far from a clinic that has T you’ll have to travel to get it.

option 2: the illegal, but easier way

all of the above– the need for a GID diagnosis, having to travel to get injections, etc– still apply, but there are a few clinics (usually found in major cities) that will give you HRT based solely on consent. they will give you a document (probably entirely in Japanese) to sign, releasing them of responsibility should something bad happen, and they will maybe, maybe not do a blood test before giving you the injection of T. as said above, it is illegal for them to do it this way and they are still flirting with the law by doing so, but on the plus side clinics that do operate in this way usually do so because they are aware of how fucked up Japan’s GID requirement is and are more aware of practices in trans healthcare outside of Japan. i’ve also found that such clinics are more likely to be accepting of non-binary / Xジェンダー and other trans people who do not necessarily fulfill traditional gender roles.

most foreigners that i know opt for option 2 for various reasons, not the least of which being that option 1 isn’t even really an accessible option if you don’t speak Japanese reasonably well. ah, and i should mention that no insurance, national or private, will cover HRT (either estrogen or T), although insurance will often cover therapy sessions.

anyway, sorry for the tl;dr response, but i hope that some of this is helpful. if you (or anyone else) have other questions, feel free to ask and / or check out

#LGBTQIA in Japan.

edit: forgot to mention option 3!

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

Leave a comment?