Not too many links this time, but some longer commentary on gender and eldercare, marriage rights, and trans rights in Japan.
Yoshiaki Nohara. “A woman’s job in Japan: watch kids, care for parents, work late.” Bloomberg. 11 May 2015.
I found this on The Japan Times first, and no wonder it didn’t sound like their normally gender-reporting fails–it’s from Bloomberg. Nohara covers Abe’s “Shine Women” (ugh) campaign’s lack of focus on and support for eldercare, a task largely thrust upon the women of the family, regardless of their employment status and points out how eldercare issue intersects with the wage gap, work culture, and government focus on childcare for mothers (instead of other issues that would also help eliminate the gender gap).
While the proportion of working-age women with jobs rose to a record 63.6 percent in 2014, they are only paid about 72 percent as much as men. Abe said Japan should be “a society where women shine,” and he wants to see women account for at least 30 percent of management roles by 2020.
“How can he say that?” Nakasaki said, shaking her head and sneering. “He’s kidding me.”
But where Nohara gets it right, NPR’s continued lack of Japan- and gender consultants fail miserably.
Elise Hu. “The First Place In East Asia To Welcome Same-Sex Marriage.” NPR. 11 May 2015.
“The Japanese value harmony so much that the LGBT community hasn’t faced overt discrimination.”
What an awful soundbite–while what Sugiyama says is true, that the general attitude is “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Hu’s statement lacks understanding of the issue:
While the Japanese don’t oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds, change has come slowly for LGBT measures in Japan partly because of a cultural paradox. The Japanese value harmony so much that the LGBT community hasn’t faced overt discrimination.
Here’s what this should say:
The Japanese don’t oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds in the same way conservative factions of religions do in other countries. This, of course, just goes to show how heterosexual-identified cisgender people of all nations use religion as a front for their own bigotry, because by removing the “cause” of the queerphobia (religion), we are left with nothing but small-mindedness and fear. Change has come slowly for LGBT measures in Japan partly because queer individuals are terrified of being fired or disowned and have basically no legal recourse other than adopting each other for inheritance purposes. While there isn’t a history of police raids or sodomy laws (which lasted 1872-80) as in the US and the UK, the school bullying crisis shows that, while violence against adults isn’t to the same level, violence amongst children and bullying to the point of suicide are. So, while one might claim that the Japanese value harmony so much that the LGBT community hasn’t faced overt discrimination, the lack of legal recourse for individuals whose jobs, housing, children, and property are threatened by institutionalized queerphobia are still huge national issues that must be addressed. Shibuya has taken a huge step in the right direction, hopefully one that will spur the national government to action.
Also, for the love, stop using “gay marriage” or “straight marriage” as shorthand. Not everyone in non-heterosexual relationships is monosexual-identified or even “same sex,”* and plenty of people who are in heterogamous relationships are queer.
That said, the Japanese national government did create support for trans students to use the locker rooms and bathrooms of their choice. This is part of a government recommendation in support of queer primary and secondary students. The logical next step is to protect their teachers and all queer adults with a national ENDA and to provide support for queer groups to train faculty, staff, and students on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Takuma Obinata. “Music was a haven for woman who lived as a man for eight decades.” The Japan Times. 12 May 2015.
Good job on pronouns, but please state that adoption is the former of legal recourse for queer couples barred from legally marrying. You’re halfway there with the correct trans terminology. Here’s a list of terms to stop using immediately.
-“transgender surgery” -> “gender affirming surgery”
-If using a former name (dead name), state that the subject gave you permission to do so.
-“female-identified”: no, trans women are women
Yusuke Murai. “Schools in Japan to let transgender students use whichever locker room they prefer.” The Japan Times. 30 April 2015.
-“believe they were born the wrong gender” = “whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth,” AFAB/AMAB
-“biologically female” = AFAB
In a 2012 document, the ministry urged schools to care for transgender students but stopped short of spelling out what measures to take. Moreover, it omitted any mention of other sexual minorities.
“I praise the fact that they included (all) sexual minorities for the first time,” Endo said, adding that the latest move would help to provide a more secure environment for them.
Not as up on trans and queer terminology and issues as you’d like? Check out the on-point webcomic Assigned Male, the adventures of Stephie, “a girl who happens to be trans.”
*Because the US doesn’t have more than two legally recognized gender options, some non-binary, trans, and intersex-identified individuals who have relationships with people who were assigned the same gender as they are would be affected by lack of non-heterogamous marriage rights. For example, you might have two AMAB people, one of whom is agender and the other of whom is a trans woman who cannot legally change her sex in her home state. They couldn’t marry because of anti-“same sex” marriage laws, but they’re not actually the same gender. Which is ridiculous.