The transgender world in contemporary Japan: male to female cross-dressers’ community in Shinjuku
Junko MITSUHASHI (Translated by Kazumi HASEGAWA)


This paper not only gives an overview of the transgender word in contemporary Japan but also attempts to illustrate the male to female cross-dressing (MTFCD) community in Shinjuku, Tokyo, which plays an important role in the overall transgender world and how people in the community think and live, by conducting the comprehensive fieldwork. The MTFCD community consists of amateur cross-dressers and their patrons, and it is formed around about 10 bars/clubs in Shinjuku. This community differentiates itself from the gay community in their customs and consciousness; they tend to recognize gender based on gender performance rather than biological sex, which is usually accepted for distinguishing sex. Therefore, a MTF cross-dresser with feminine performance is considered as a “woman,” regardless of one’s physical and biological conditions. Because of this recognition of gender based on gender performance, people in the community are able to develop the “quasi-heterosexual” relationships as men and “women.”

Author’s biography:
She is a part-time lecturer at Ochanomizu University where she teaches transgender and sexuality studies. Her research area covers gender studies, socio-historical sexuality studies, and transgender studies. She is also co-editor of Japanese Gay and Transgender Cultures in Post-War Japan戦後日本女装・同性愛研究 and author of numerous book chapters and articles about Japanese transgenderism and sexuality.

Translator’s biography
She is a part-time lecturer at Sagami Women’s University in Japan, where she teaches English and American culture. She is also translator/interpreter of English and Japanese. She is interested not only in sexuality and transgenderism but also in cross-racial relationships between African-Americans and Japanese and transnational racialization in the late 19th centuries. Her essay works include “The First Japanese Graduate of Howard University: Jenichiro Oyabe” (2006).