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18 Apr 2017

Interview: Japan’s First Male Transgender Councillor

In an exclusive interview with Fridae, Tomoya Hosoda talks about his hopes for his time in office.

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Tomoya Hosoda was elected a councillor for the city of Iruma, in Japan’s central region of Kanto, this week and became Japan’s—and the world’s—first transgender man elected to office.

How does it feel to be the first transgender man elected to office?

I’m surprised that I was elected as the first transgender man. I feel considerable pressure, but I’ll try to turn it into power to improve the present condition [in Japan].

What do you hope to achieve during your time as councillor? What challenges do you foresee?

I want to to introduce a mixed male and female class list at schools. In Japan, class lists at primary school and junior high school can separate boys and girls, depending on the local government. The local government in my town separate male and female on the class list, which can cause a lot of hurt to LGBT people, including myself. So I wish to install a “male and female mixed class list” to improve things. In addition to this, I want to install a counter for LGBT persons at facilities such as welfare centers.

What do you think of the situation for LGBT in Japan?

Japan has many problems for LGBT persons. In large cities such as Tokyo, people tend to accept people like us. But in the country side, some people have prejudice against LGBT persons.

What do you hope to do for LGBT during your time as councillor?

I think politicians can change the things that matter to peoples lives little by little. For example, multipurpose [mixed sex] toilets in public facilities will be made more accessible for LGBT persons by displaying a rainbow sticker. If there aren’t multipurpose toilets, they can present opinions that promote the installation of these to the administration. In addition to this, they can present opinions that install personal advice counters for LGBT person to the administration.

What has been your experience of being transgender in Japan?

I’m lucky that I’ve had good and understanding family, friends, and teachers—I wasn’t bullied when I was student. But I felt out of place in my life. For example, in the toilet or the changing room. This was what I feel strongly in the past. This experience is one of the reasons why I ran for the election.

What advice do you have for transgender people in Japan and elsewhere in Asia?

Trust yourself, be proud of yourself. You must have people around you who accept you just the way you are. There is no one who is the same as you in this world. Please stay just the way you are. Let’s change the social environment together.

 

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