For those of you who are only tuning in now, I’ve had a dream since I was a wee kiddo to be a novelist. Oddly enough, I’ve had this dream since I was about eleven, around the same time I fell in love with Japan. Coincidence?…Probably, yeah.
Anyways, I’ve started on the novel already. I’ve written over 20,000 words, I know how it’s supposed to end, so now I just need to sit down to get it done.
So I’ll be off this site until November! If you want to follow the NaNoWriMo journey, I’m making a new blog for just the novel, because I hate the new format of the NaNoWriMo website with a burning passion.
It started with just the news. Everyone at my school murmured on Wednesday how Typhoon Hagibis might still swirl away from us. Faxai didn’t hit Tokyo last time, and most teachers were hoping it would just go the hell away. I even said as much on Facebook that I was torn. On the one hand, I would’ve loved to have a day to sleep in, but on the other hand I needed to finish and print off my midterms.
By Thursday night, it was obvious from all the various weather radar sites that the Typhoon #19 was heading straight for us. Most of my Japanese co-workers and friends weren’t nervous, but also were a little nervous. It’s the kind of hesitant nervousness that comes with the years of experience in living through various typhoons. Nobody wanted to seem like they really cared, because who cared about typhoons really? Shrug, nervous laughter…check the radar at your desk when no one is looking.
However, the news proclaimed this typhoon would be unlike any other typhoon we’ve seen in the past decade. It wasn’t slowing down like most typhoons do, and it was going to cover most of the country with torrential rain and whipping winds. By noon on Friday, my school announced there couldn’t be any school on Saturday. JR East was already planning to shut down trains by 13:00!
It was kind of shocking. Up until this point, trains usually would shut down at 16:00/17:00. We all kind of expected the same time frame this go around, with most teachers expecting half a class day. Nope! We were told to not come to the school at all! Even full time and homeroom teachers were exempt.
A co-worker and I planned on a possible typhoon video game day. I would go over to hers, and we’d keep each other company through the storm.
“If the trains aren’t crazy,” she said.
“Yeah, we’ll have to see in the morning.” I shrugged and checked my phone as it buzzed again with another news pop up. “But it looks like the trains will be up and running? It should be fine.”
“Yeah, it should be.”
It’ll all be fine. Everything will work out. We’ll be OK. These storms never really hit Tokyo…
All these little reassurances we kept telling ourselves, because in actuality we weren’t entirely sure. It reminded me of Kentucky in the fall, with tornado season bringing hail, sleet, thunder, lightning, winds, and that blasted anticipation.
I hate the waiting of it, very similar to that sensation of when you’re just about to get on a roller coaster. You’re waiting in line, and waiting, and then you’re standing at the gates. Suddenly, you’re at the loading dock, and you’ve got to take that last step.
A big distinctive difference between the two is that I can choose not to get on a roller coaster, but I cannot choose when a typhoon is going to hit or how bad it will be when it does arrive. My anxiousness wasn’t at all helped by the charge in the air. If you’ve ever lived in a place that gets storms, then you know that charge. It’s that taste of rain on your tongue, the electric sizzle that’s just there, waiting to bust into action. As the barometer gets ever higher, that tenseness wraps around you and squeezes.
As I left for home on Friday night, I decided to stop by Don Quijote. I think everyone was feeling it. People were panicking, frantically calling their spouses and family over cell phones. The bread was gone. The milk was gone. The frozen foods were gone. Oddly enough, the canned food section still had a plethora of beans, tomato sauces, and etc. I shook my head and grabbed a bunch of canned chick peas, red kidney beans, mushrooms, and peas.
Perishables would go bad very quickly in the event of an actual natural disaster. My mother taught me a long time ago that in a true survival situation, go for the cans. At home I already had emergency water and a first aid kit. I grabbed some batteries for flashlights (also in the emergency bag), and miraculously got a few bag of snacks for the maybe typhoon party.
I walked home quick. I knew I would need to cover my windows with cardboard. Even though my sliding windows were thick and made to withstand the full force of a typhoon, I knew my neighbors had a horrible habit of never taking their potted plants or laundry poles inside when a storm was set to hit us. Along my walk, I saw many people taping up their windows, pulling down shutters, or putting up actual wood planks like I’d seen in the news for hurricanes in Florida.
As soon as I got home, I grabbed the duct tape and cut up cardboard boxes to fit the huge Leopalace windows. I was a little too short to get all the way up to the tip top, but I figured it was a good enough job. The cardboard was just meant to keep the shattered glass from coming into the apartment, anyways, not be actual support.
I was sending out texts and messages as I worked. My friends were batting down the hatches all over the country. I let my family back home what my situation was and my plans. Thankfully, the work exhausted me enough that I could sleep.
In the morning, I was hit with a surprise. Even though JR East announced trains would be shut down by 13:00, apparently subways and other private train lines were already shutting down before then. My co-worker asked me not to try and get over to her place.
“I don’t want you to get stuck half way!” she told me over LINE.
To put things into perspective, last time a typhoon knocked out trains, JR East blundered the execution of their plans a little bit. The train company shut down trains at 17:00 on a Sunday, and promised that trains would resume at 8:00 the next Monday. It caused a lot of havoc, with people waiting in lines for hours to try and get to work or school. This time around, JR East and other companies weren’t taking any chances. They went with being overly prepared and simply shut it all down.
I checked both the train and bus schedules online. Sure enough, I realized that it wasn’t a guaranteed trip. I could very well end up stuck. I agreed with her and decided to just wait it out at my place. Left to my own devices, I decided to clean like a maniac.
The news of a tornado hitting Chiba was the first sign that Hagibis was definitely not going to be like any other typhoon. I noticed it hitting Japan’s Twitter News first. It was something to see, just this huge twister taking out buildings. The first confirmed death for Hagibis came from that tornado.
There was a tornado that hit Chiba. This storm isn't a joke. Listen to the alarms and if you're told to evacuate, DO IThttps://t.co/JGRETbQdYj
My phone buzzed and sent alarms at midday to inform me in Japanese on the Hagibis’ progress. Luckily, I can read Japanese kanji to a degree that I can glance at the emergency alerts to figure out where the alerts are supposed to cover and which ones I can ignore. I knew other people weren’t so well versed, so I stopped cleaning and went to work.
I sent out alerts to some Stonewall Japan pages so people could get information in English. I also sent out Tweets of English information. A lot of J-Vloggers and bloggers were doing the same, trying to get information out there so people wouldn’t be caught unaware about the situation.
NHK World was doing live coverage in English, which was a move I applauded. I appreciated that Japan Times and Japan Today kept regularly updating their information as well. I was glad to see that within our small foreigner community everyone was rallying to try and prevent another tragedy.
Then, the earthquake hit. At first, I just thought to myself, “Oh wow, the wind is really picking up!” When my picture frames began to bounce against the wall and my ceiling light swayed, I realized it wasn’t the wind. I ducked under my table just to be safe, because it felt like not a big deal…but I wan’t 100% sure because of the storm. It came and went, and I marked it as a 3 on the scale.
Sure enough, it was a 4 coming from Chiba and a 3 in my area. Called it! All the same, it didn’t help my already frayed state of mind. Three natural disaster-like events in one day, and all so close. I moved my emergency bag to sit right at the front door, and threw some clothes into my other backpack. Just to be super, duper safe.
In the early evening, the wind hit hard. I checked out my front door intermittently just to see what the wind and rain looked like outside. At one point, I opened my door and saw the sky was green. I promptly shut the door and said, “Not today, Satan.”
For those of you who don’t know, green skies mean bad thunderstorms and tornadoes are inbound, as in “you got minutes to find shelter, bruh.” I got lucky, though, no tornadoes for my area. The rain came of and on, off and on, either completely soaking the whole area or trailing off. I listened to it in between forcing myself to just relax and watch Netflix on my laptop.
I knew I couldn’t do anything, not yet anyway. My flood map showed a low chance of flooding. My alerts for evacuation were for the elderly, not for me, and not even for my specific area in Tokyo. I continued to retweet and put up messages I thought were useful, but otherwise I couldn’t do anything else. I texted my coworkers and checked in on a few friends, but it was just a waiting game.
Typhoon Higibis finally arrived at 21:00, and it hit hard. The rain suddenly dumped down, just swish, swish, swishing all over the place with the winds. My windows knocked a bit in their settings, but didn’t leak or break at all. I refreshed my flood maps and kept reading the evacuation alerts as they came. Honestly, I knew by that point it was useless to try to evacuate anywhere. If the river near my apartment overflowed, I wouldn’t be able to run out by this point. I had to just kind of hope I was making the right call to stay.
A few reminders as it starts getting darker:
– Even if the wind or rain seems to get weaker, don't assume it's safe to head outside yet as it can pick up again with extreme force in an instant.
– Don't go outside to take photos or footage of the damage for social media feeds.
Regardless, I move my bags up into the loft area just in case a flood did decide to hit. All my electronics were charging up there anyway, so it just made sense. I stayed up in the loft, eating the snacks meant for a party, and watching the news. I heard about the community center that denied the homeless man shelter. It sickened me to think of someone getting turned away to sit on the street with just an umbrella and a “gambarre!”
At least two homeless were refused entrance to a shelter in Taito Ward in Tokyo during the typhoon because they couldn’t provide a permanent address. The Ward justified exposing these ppl to death by saying they were prioritizing “ward residents.” https://t.co/1yvz8Ymu5I
And then an alert I never saw before popped up from Yahoo News. Puzzled, I searched for the kanji and my eyes went wide when I saw, “Volanic Eruption Warning,” come up. I thought, “Surely not Fuji?!” and nope, not Mt. Fuji. It was Sakurajima, all the way across the country. I was mad. I lived nowhere near there, why did my phone send me an alert for Kyushu?!
Around midnight, the winds decreased in velocity, although the rain stayed. My flood map and radar showed me that my area in particular was going to be spared from flood waters. To the west of me, dams were getting opened and the rivers overflowed to prevent dams breaking. To the east, a city not even that far away from me was being told to get to higher ground because the coastal lines were no longer safe. Somehow, I was sandwiched into a safe pocket that needed no evacuation or run away option.
I finally let out that metaphorical breath I’d been holding. The red parts of the radar shifted upwards to Saitama, and even though I was still in the yellow bits, I decided to call it a night. I sent my family messages that I survived and didn’t need to evacuate. If anything changed in the morning, I would call. I sent my last messages and so on, and finally went to sleep.
I got startled awake two or three times that night from my phone alarms. Once again, though, these alarms were meant for Sendai. Sendai is no where near me. I glanced at the kanji and rolled over. Just as it always tends happen, I fell into nightmares because my sleep got interrupted. I couldn’t remember them, just the general feeling that I was suffocating.
Finally, the next morning, I woke up to sunlight and the sound of children laughing. I checked my phone. All of my friends were safe. My coworkers were good. No need to worry. I let out a breath. I could breathe normally again.
I took down the cardboard. I put the grab bag back on the shelf. I made myself breakfast and a nice big pot of coffee. I knew I was supremely lucky.
As I scrolled through the news reports, I knew it could have been so much worse. My river was one of many on a system, placed about three or four dams away from the coast. Thank God for human ingenuity and for advanced weather warning technology, otherwise the death toll would’ve been catastrophic.
As it stands, about 70 people have lost their lives to the storm. Homes and damage to cities are being rebuilt and repaired, but there are bridges just gone. The tornado in Chiba plus the typhoon hit an already suffering part of Japan that was affected by the last big typhoon. Stories are coming in that reflect how Hagibis really was a horrible storm, but so many people were sparred because of the advanced warnings.
Now, some people are claiming the preparations were “too much” or an “overreaction,” but I disagree completely. It was easy to feel the might of that storm, and all it would’ve taken was one broken dam and a city would’ve been completely wiped off the map. Evacuations were necessary. Shutting downs trains was necessary. It was all absolutely necessary. The death toll isn’t this low because Hagibis was nothing; it is that low because there was a chance we could’ve lost everything.
Thankfully, I’m fine, but some people are not as lucky. Donations are being accepted for rebuilding efforts by the Japan NPO Center and Peace Winds. If you’re interested, the Japan Red Cross accepts monetary donations or they are always in need of blood donors. Please be careful and don’t give to any kickstarter or gofundme that claims to give funds to people in Japan! Kickstarter and Gofundme aren’t countries on the list that can start fundraising through those sites.
For those of you unaware, I’ve got my own Facebook Page. Today I was going over to post my previous blog post up on it when Facebook decides to pop up with, “Add a category so more people can find you!”
I sighed and went over there. Generally, I hate these stupid pop ups, because those damn message numbers won’t go away until you do as the Facebook gods command. I make my way over and try to put in something else.
When I started typing, I figured, “Alright fine, I’ll put in Japan or Japanese.”
Nope. The only option available was…Japanese restaurant. Nanidafuq? I was very confused, but figured whatever, I’ll just put my own category in. On most other websites, you can customize your category, kind of like creating your own tags and categories on blogs and vlogs.
NOPE, not allowed. “Only specific categories can be used!” It says, taunting me.
I gave up, and then I figured, “Well that’s a little racist, but whatever, I’ll just type in LGBT or LGBTQ and be done with it.”
As it turns out, LGBTQ isn’t in there AT ALL. It’s not even listed under the “Causes” section.
I was flabbergasted. Surely it had to be under something? I scrolled down. Generally speaking, LGBTQ gets lumped in under “community” or “causes” on most websites. Under community organizations I found the goddamned armed forces, but not LGBTQ.
I could believe it. I searched for gay, lesbian, trans, bi, ANYTHING in the umbrella. Gay Bar was literally the only option I could find. At this point in the game, I got a bit pissed off.
It almost seems deliberate. Let’s think about this for a second, this is a company that has been called out for not doing enough to protect people from fake news, neo-nazis, and etc. And then I come to find out that there are literally NO options for LGBTQ spaces in the page options?
You might be going like, “What’s the big deal?” Well the big deal is that without that option, search engines won’t bring people to those pages. If you search for “LGBTQ resources in New York” you won’t get any links for the Facebook Groups unless it’s in the title. Searches means money, searches means awareness, and in some cases it means finding the right resources if a teen kid kicked out of our house by homophobic parents.
I think I got really pissed off when I reached the “website” section, which is under “Other.” It lists “E-commerce,” like for real?! And above that is “Vitamins/Supplements” but screw that huge population that needs all the support it can get for visibility and help.
And I might not have even been this pissed off if I didn’t know that Facebook has it’s own Facebook LGBTQ Page! That is some bullshit. Why does this company get to profit off of LGBTQ people, but then turn around and erase it from its search options?
I’m not even accepting, “Well, it must just be an oversight.” I don’t believe it for a second. This lack of LGBTQ in categories feels deliberate. I cannot be the first person to have noticed and brought it up.
And maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have been so mad if I could’ve just put my own category in, but I wasn’t allowed. Only Facebook approved categories allowed, because screw you that’s why.
This needs to change, and there does also need to be better categories for people on an international level. There are other countries, languages, and cultures that deserve to have their communities represented and found. The fact you only get restaurant options for diversity is appalling and disgusting.
When I was about 12 years old, I wrote my first book. Well, it was a novella really (I think my memory says about 30,000 words). I was absolutely thrilled with it at the time. Looking back, I’m fairly certain my English teacher must’ve been a little traumatized and horrified that a 12 year old girl was, well, kind of writing pornographic content for an official assignment.
My dream was to be romance writer, because I loved the idea of romantic love. Someone who is always there for you, someone who never betrayed you, and someone who would save you from your own flaws…Romance novels don’t exactly set you up for realistic expectations in relationships, but I digress.
Then, I fell in love with fantast and science fiction. I plowed through the entirety of Lord of the Rings, Animorphs, Enders Game series, Harry Potter, Inuyasha, Fushigi Yugi, just pick your choice of late 90’s and early 2000’s manga really, and because of that I changed my mind. I would be a fantasy writer, or a sci fi writer instead. There would be books with romantic elements, but they’d be a bit more realistic.
But then in high school, I dove into horror and mystery. I was going to the public library and just checking out literally anything with vampires or murder in the plot. Interview with a Vampire, the Vampire Diaries (I liked it before it was cool, kids), hated Nancy Drew though, and just kind…snowballed from there.
Suddenly, I realized I kind of liked anything fictional. I didn’t like mystery as much as the others, but I wanted to read everything. In addition, I kind of wanted to write everything. You might even notice that problem with my blog. One day I’m talking about super important LGBTQIA+ issues, and then the next I’m doing a think piece about teaching students.
But I also got discouraged. A lot of my English teachers would read my work, and then they wouldn’t really be excited as I was for anything I wrote. I got the feeling that other students (a few of whom I know actually just kind of plagiarized their work, by the way) were often more encouraged and well liked by the English teachers. I guess what I’m saying is I never had anyone besides my mother and brother who believed in this dream, so it was hard to think I could have a future in it during high school.
When I got into university, I figured I would try to get myself published in something before I graduated. I knew I would have to buckle down and study hard, but I continually worked on various manuscripts throughout the four years I went there. I was a part of two small writing groups even, trying my best to keep this going. I wrote so much stuff, but none of it felt like it was “ready” or “polished” or whatever.
It didn’t help that, once again, there was no professor or anyone who thought my writing was any good. I was passable, as in I was able to make papers and submit them and get good enough grades that I could pass classes. At the same time, if I ever mentioned the other things I was trying to write, I kind of got dismissed.
My poetry wasn’t “on the level” that the other students could produce. My short stories seemed lack that “thing” they were looking for, and I don’t know, I kind of gave up showing anyone above other students what I was working on. Oddly enough, the writing groups and my own roommates kept me going on writing.
I want to be clear, my professors weren’t monsters by any stretch of the imagination. I learned a lot from them on how to write better. I was forced to read and write outside of my comfort zone often, and it really made an impact on how I viewed fiction as remnants of history, not just stories. I never realized there were whole debates and massive conferences about certain novels or works of literature because they were integral to the history of certain genres.
My professors also taught me something that no one really taught how to do well before: self-edit. Up until university, I think most of the time “editing” for middle and high school teachers mostly focused on spelling and grammar. I get it, it’s hard to teach kids how to edit more for style and tone. As a middle and high school teacher, believe me I do get it. All the same, all of my professors were merciless in the rewriting process, and I’m super thankful for all their effort. Now I write and re-write and re-write and revise all the damn time.
By the time graduation arrived, I managed to publish one poem in the school literary journal. It was about my grandfather, and I was very proud of it. I also write in the school newspaper all four years, although in my head that “didn’t really count,” and I was a page editor in my senior year. Still, I hated myself a little bit for not getting a book out there.
Then I came to Japan, and honestly blogging was something I thought would just be nice to try out. It was a good hobby to have, and I figured maybe one day I would publish a book about life in Japan or something. I still kept writing here and there, but having a full time job means of course there is less time for novel endeavors.
I kept saying “Oh I’ll definitely do it this year!” and “I’ll get it done by (insert date here)!” But it kept not happening, and not happening, and not happening.
I wish I could say something profound happened, like someone just snapped me into talking about the book or I came to this amazing realization, but that’s not how it came to be. I just read randomly online one day on a Facebook writing group that if you’re an adult, there’s never going to be a “right” time to get published. Just do it or you’ll regret it later. And then I read somewhere else that talking about your book helps you to write your book, and it helps keep you accountable to an audience.
It’s all kind of accumulated to a point now where I’m also, well, pretty goddamn sure my writing is worthy of garnering some kind of audience. I don’t need to be that next big thing. Basically, I’m thirty and I don’t feel like I have to prove myself to anyone anymore. I’m not asking permission, either, I’m self-publishing and doing it all myself. Fuck the system (insert fist pump here). I’ve never been a person who has waited around to be told where my life should be going, why should this any different?
And so here we go. I’m going to write a novel, there is no deadline. It’s happening at some point, hopefully this year. I’ll be working on it, you’ll be getting to read excerpts and things as I go. Enjoy!
If you live in Japan, then you’re no stranger to the endless working hours demanded by companies to their employees. The expectation of “work-life” balance is a pipe dream under most big companies, as they expect their employees to put everything aside for “company loyalty.” Parents in particular experience a specific form of harassment called “mata-hara” for women and “pata-hara” for men.
Respectively, “mata-hara” stands for “maternity harassment.” Women are often expected to give up their jobs after maternity leave, or are harassed for taking such leave in the first place. For men, “pata-hara” stands for “paternity harassment.” Men are often pressured not to take this leave at all. However, both maternity and paternity leave are protected under Japanese law.
Glen Wood is asking for help in his battle against the corporate giant Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. (MUMSS). After his child was born pre-mature, he asked to take paternity leave in order to be with his baby, but his leave was rejected. Soon after, he said he experienced harassment from the company for taking leave. Mitsubishi UFJ has even tried to slander his name in order to win against him in court. See the video below for the full story:
To paraphrase the last of the video, Mr. Wood now needs help from the public. On July 5th, there will be a public hearing, and he will need as much support as the public can give him. Whether foreign or Japanese, if anyone has other stories of para-hara from this company, or harassment or abuses of power in general, your voices are needed at this hearing.
Mr. Wood had all his proposed testimonies against Mitsubishi UFJ rejected by the court judge. Without the voices from the public, he will be speaking alone.
Hi guys, I’m reposting an article I wrote for Wide Island View, a Hiroshima JET Program Zine, in April 2019 which has since moved to a new site. I’ll be sharing this link as it’s new home, however you can also find this article on the Hiroshima JET Program WordPress. Thanks!
If you’re reading this article, I imagine you and I have something in common. We are part of the queer community in some way or other, be it through our sexual orientation, gender identity, friends or chosen family in the queer community, or perhaps you just have questions. One of the things I looked forward to most when I came to Japan was seeing and experiencing the queer community in Japan. This article is to give you a heads up on what I’ve seen so far, and what kinds of places you can visit to connect with the queer…
When pillars of a community screw up so royally they get featured on PinkNews, we kind of expect a message to come from them directly at some point. Chiga Ogawa finally gave us her message about “the events” that took place on that fateful night when Elin McCready was turned away for “not being feminine enough” to gain entry.
Anyways, Chiga Ogawa’s statement came out. It’s…a good start, but it’s not the best response to give in this kind of situation. You can follow the link for the PDF if you like.
Now, here’s the thing: This apology lacks the impact it wants, because before this Chiga Ogawa talked to Shingetsu News about the events that took place. To be sort-of fair, Chiga Ogawa wasn’t quoted directly (which is some BAD journalism, but that’s a whole other nickpick). Instead her words were paraphrased all to hell, so what she exactly said is lost in this muddled interpretation of what she said, which doesn’t make her look very good in relation to this apology. Chiga Ogawa’s section in the report says:
In her exclusive interview, Ogawa explained that Bar Gold Finger does not have a policy of excluding transgender people. Six nights a week all members of the LGBT community are welcome to patronize the bar, and they have transgender customers.
Moreover, Bar Gold Finger has held specifically transgender-themed events, even in earlier times when the acceptance of LGBT people was not as wide as it is today. Ogawa herself has offered various kinds of personal support to her transgender friends.
The recent notion, therefore, that she is a “TERF” simply doesn’t accord with the decades-long record of Ogawa’s personal behavior and the policies and patronage of Bar Gold Finger.
Just because you have trans events doesn’t mean that you aren’t a TERF. Having a business that allows in a certain set of customers (as in FTM and Cis-gender) means that you’re specifically excluding trans women because YOU DON’T CONSIDER THEM WOMEN. Excluding trans women is the act of a TERF, a very specific minded TERF.
Sidebar: The article tries to make it sound like Elin McCready “started this controversy” but no, she didn’t. Bar Gold Finger staff started this controversy when they decided to be exclusionary. Plus, I’m the one calling Chiga a TERF, not Elin. Just to be clear, Elin has been a ray of sunshine in butterflies. I’m the bitchy one.
Also, where the hell are these trans friends of Chiga’s? Why aren’t they being quoted? Where is the actual evidence that she’s allowing trans gender people into the bar? Pictures, videos, testimonials, hell hit up Google and look at the reviews on the bar or something.
As someone who has been in the various communities getting a shit ton of feedback about the bar from people, I can tell you that I have received a lot of really discouraging comments about other people who have been turned away from Bar Gold Finger.
Before you’re like, “Only three isn’t a ‘shiton,’ idiot!” I chose these three out of the bunch because they were the most anonymous. I don’t want to go around outing friends and community members.
Many other long and heartbreaking stories have made their way into my inbox on Facebook and Twitter. A pattern very easily developed. Trans women were consistently asked for ID, had their attire questioned/analyzed, the way they spoke mocked, consistently asked, “Are you really trans?” in Japanese, and so on. You get the idea.
But don’t worry! Chiga Ogawa has a fantastic explanation for these stories!
Ogawa indicates that McCready was not allowed entry to the Women Only event because she and her staff felt that her presence was likely to be disruptive to other patrons, and that she didn’t have an entirely feminine presence about her in dress and demeanor.
Ogawa also noted that decades of operating a bar in Nichome has taught her to be careful. Not all individuals who are born male and wearing female clothes are genuinely transgender. In her own experience she has seen cases of heterosexual men cruising Nichome in drag with the intention of picking up women, as part of their own sexual fetishes.
Ogawa accepts the principle that transgender women are women. But running a bar in Nichome encompasses practical judgments as well as ideological ones. That means not all patrons will be given a welcome. Sometimes individuals will be turned away if there’s a sense that they may disturb the other patrons. Rightly or wrongly, McCready was judged to fall into this category in the context of the long-established Women Only event.
Still, Ogawa owns up to the fact that putting the “WOMEN (cisgender) ONLY” message on the May event poster was “a big mistake” on her part. It was a ham-handed attempt to settle the controversy which only made things much worse, and didn’t truly reflect her own feelings or the bar’s policies.
The bullshit excuse was underlined and put in bold by me, not the news agency.
As I said previously in my video, using the excuse that you’re equating trans women as drag queens or cross dressers is a flimsy way to hide your transphobia. Harassment is illegal and assault is illegal, period. Also, these supposed “men dressing up as women” might be like me, a genderqueer who identifies as both, or genderfluid, or myriad of other non-binary identities.
We don’t pretend to know for sure, though. We don’t think that this is something that anybody knows. The question, however, is what to do in the absence of knowledge. The sentiment, “better to be safe than sorry!” often surfaces at this point: we’re pretty confident about the relative risks of violence against women from cis men and cis women respectively; trans women are an unknown quantity; so better to play safe.
If, on the other hand, trans women are thought of as a subset within ‘women’ – much like the group ‘white women’, for example – then this just raises the question of why some women’s safety should take precedence over that of others, especially when the risk allegedly posed to cis women by trans women seems to be purely theoretical – not supported by evidence – while the risk to trans women from cis men is beyond doubt. The World Health Organisation’s systematic review of violence motivated by perception of sexual orientation and gender identity in 2017 found that transgender people suffer from a disproportionately high prevalence of physical and sexual violence. Research suggests trans people are more likely than cis people to experience homelessness, and trans women in particular are more likely to engage in sex work – both of which make a person more likely to experience sexual violence.
Excluding trans women from women spaces can kill them, like straight up get them beaten and murdered. Holding this line for who and who doesn’t “pass” in order to get into this bar tells trans women, “We would rather you be out there in danger than safe in here with us. You make us uncomfortable, and we would rather not question our own internal transphobia tonight. Get out and stay out.”
I find it hard to believe that just after doing this interview, Chiga Ogawa has done a complete 180 on her stance. Even though her official statement says trans women will be allowed into women only night, how the hell can I trust that to be true when I’ve got all the evidence pointing to all these past events wherein trans women were kicked out? And then this interview with her giving the standard TERF reasoning for not letting MTF and trans women not into women only spaces?
Now, also like I said in my previous video, I don’t want Gold Finger cancelled. I do want to see real, tangible change occur. I have hope. Even if this apology message has come far too late, and contradicts a news article days before Ogawa’s official apology was released, I do still have some hope.
Personally, I might have felt more at ease if Elin got a name drop in this apology, even if it was just one sentence. It seems like it’s just intended to bring back business, not actually ask for forgiveness. It doesn’t help that the news agency also predominantly displayed the next June Bride event at Gold Finger. This feels more like a business decision, not a sincere attempt to bridge the troubled waters between Gold Finger and the trans community.
No doubt the #BoycottGoldfinger movement that started on Twitter made an impact. I know also that Tokyo Weekender pulled an old article titled “Bar Gold Finger Chiga Ogawa: What Nichome Means to Me” off its website (although the video with Chiga is still up on YouTube). She’s losing her place as a leader in the community, and not without good reason.
Because really, this whole thing isn’t really about her, it’s about the constant stomping on trans women and their right to exist to women only spaces.
The first comment I got on my blog was a transphobic one. I removed it, because screw you whoever you are in Hokkaido. I didn’t want my trans and genderqueer friends to see that shit if they didn’t have to be exposed to it. But I need to make a point, so I’m going to show it and another transphobic comment I got on YouTube.
And also, I was a member of a group on Facebook and this happened (be forewarned, a lot of anti-trans rhetoric).
When transphobia pops up, other transphobes get in on the action. I’ve had people hitting up my Twitter threads and trying to convince me that men sneaking into bathhouses are the same as trans women. TERFs got bold in these past couple of weeks, coming all out of the woodwork to express their stance “with Gold Finger” in “protecting women.”
The consequences I care about aren’t about Gold Finger’s attendance or boycott or whatever. I know for a fact that this fight is about pushing back against TERFs and transphobes who are belligerently ignorant. They don’t want to understand, they just want to hate and hurt trans people.
The apology is out there, but it doesn’t really fix the damage done. There is trust broken and a lot of healing to do. Nichome is supposed to be the place we can go to feel safe, but the safety of trans people should be included in those priorities. I still don’t feel like it is.