[From October Issue 2013]
Representative of G-pit Networks
It is believed that currently approximately 7% of the population of Japan belongs to a sexual minority. These people are also referred to as LGBT: L stands for lesbian, G stands for gay, B stands for bisexual, and T for transgender.
However, there are many troubled people who are not able to be open about being LGBT. Particularly of concern are transgender people: women by birth who identify themselves mentally as men, or men by birth who identify themselves mentally as women. At G-pit Networks, an organization that provides support for these people, approximately 170 people per month come in for a consultation. Through his blog and other mediums, their representative, INOUE Kento, organizes mixers twice a month.
Inoue says, “Everyone is afraid to let it be known that they feel uncomfortable in their own bodies. Things get lively when they are able to exchange opinions with others who suffer from the same disorder.” G-pit also offers a service to introduce those suffering from gender identity disorder who wish to undergo a sex change to Thai specialists. The reason why Inoue enthusiastically tackles this problem is because he has suffered from gender identity disorder himself.
Inoue explains, “From around the age of four, I hated wearing red clothes and skirts. When I was in high school I had a crush on a girl, and everyone around me thought I was homosexual. It was tough not being able to talk about it with my parents.” After consulting a doctor, he was diagnosed with gender identity disorder.
At the age of 24, in order to become a man, he had an operation in Thailand to remove his breasts and uterus. He chose Thailand because people there are tolerant and do not have any prejudices against transgender people. Another factor was the low cost of the operation and the advanced medical technology there. The operation was carried out without complications, and Inoue’s body became that of a man’s. After this he fell in love with a Thai woman and one day went to her apartment for the first time.
She thought Inoue was a normal man. Although he had become a man, Inoue couldn’t give her a child. He had to tell her this. She couldn’t understand either English or Japanese. Thai was their only means of communication, but Inoue only had basic Thai. When his girlfriend finally understood what he was trying to say, she was so surprised that she dropped the plate she was holding.
Then, using a dictionary, Inoue desperately explained how much he loved her until she finally understood. In fact, she had a secret. She had lied about her age and was actually a single mom with a child. Overcoming these obstacles, the two got married. In 2004, a special law was introduced, allowing a person with gender identity disorder who has undergone a sex change operation to change their name in the family register and to get married.
Approximately 3,500 Japanese people have undergone sex change operations, and approximately 70% of these operations were from female to male. People who have had a sex change hope to have families and children. In order to do this they consider fostering or adopting. Inoue is open about his own experiences and, by helping troubled people, broadens the understanding of the general public.