Essay about Transgenderism in Japan

2307 Words Oct 15th, 2011 10 Pages
Aya Kamikawa- Reformation in the land of conformity

Scholars have suggested that in the modern Japanese society, transgendered individuals (transgendered individuals and transsexuals are interchangeable and are referred to in the context of the Japanese society) are only valuable to the entertainment industry (Mackie 412, McLelland 167-168). In a country where mainstream conformity is promoted and preferred, any career outside of the entertainment and sex industries would seem impossible to pursue for a transgendered individual (Mackie 411-412). While transgendered individuals are more than welcome in the entertainment and sex industry due to the curiosity of the audiences and clients (Mackie 412, Mitsuhashi 211-215, Rosario 94-95),
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The conformitive state of the Japanese society does not welcome transgendered individuals with open arms; instead they are outcasted into the marginal society-leading many to live a life in secrecy (Matsubara). Mackie stated that gender identity is intimately linked to citizenship. Someone whose gender identity is ambiguous will have problems with all of the social system that monitors individual identity. Thus lead to the difficulties in gaining stable employment opportunities (Mackie 411). Since employment is one of the important aspects of citizenship, the lack of a stable employment furthers the marginalization of the transgendered population in Japan. But most transsexuals feel the need of remaining employed due to the transition and maintenance expenses. Thus many tend to hide their transsexual identities in workplaces due to the fear of discrimination or spoken to negatively by the coworkers if they discover his/her real identity (Mackie 413-415). Due to the complication of paperwork and fear of being the center of office gossip, many transgendered individuals choose to work in the entertainment and hospitality industries, where the paperwork is fairly looser than permanent full-time occupations (Mackie 411). Aya Kamikawa once said in an interview “I have avoided full-time employment ever since I decided to live as a woman, as it involves pension and health insurance registrations, which would reveal my original gender to colleagues," she

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