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.
Nothing pisses me off more royally than transphobia these days. TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Not-Actually Feminists) are everywhere, and in Japan they’re notorious on Twitter for bullying people for not adhering to the strictest of definitions of female – because intersex people are a myth in their minds. Since I’m the Stonewall Japan Vice President and Kanto East Block Leader, I keep an eye out for places and people that exhibit shitty behavior just in general.
In this particular case, I feel personally betrayed and hurt. Bar Goldfinger is one of the few standing lesbian bards in Nichome, Shinjuku. If you didn’t know, lesbian bars are kind of dying off, and I liked to visit for karaoke nights with friends. It was a frequent stop to bar hop on my way through on a Friday and Saturday night.
So when I heard that the owners were transphobic pieces of human trash that broke my heart.
It started with just a Facebook post on the Kanto East Block Page (name removed so I’m not outing anyone).
[Facebook Post: Name Redacted for Privacy Concerns]
This is my first time posting on Stonewall, so please let me know if my post doesn’t fit the guidelines in anyway and I’ll be happy to remove or edit it.
Just to note that this is as told to me by my friend so it’s possible that there are some slight details that have been lost. But I thought a lot of people in the community would be interested to hear about something that my friend experienced at the Bar Gold Finger Party last night.
The party takes place every 3rd Saturday and it clearly states Women Only on the website. My friend’s friend from France was performing as a DJ. The DJ wanted to bring her friend who is trans. The DJ confirmed with the venue that it would be ok to bring her friend in advance. However, when they arrived, their IDs were checked and so the trans person was not allowed to enter because their gender marker on their ID is male*. The DJ then refused to perform if her friend was not allowed to enter. And now the DJ is apparently blacklisted from Goldfinger. Apparently the trans person was told: “You don’t even look like a woman.”
I’m all about women friendly and queer friendly safe spaces. And I can understand why people might feel more comfortable in a female only/female majority space. But to me, this goes against the spirit of such ideas. It might be ok to exclude cis men from entering the party or the bar one day of the week, but what does excluding trans people achieve?”
*Note: The ID marker wasn’t male, as you will see below.
Just to be clear, the marker was F, as in FEMALE, but the bouncer decided that Elin didn’t “pass” as female. That is some TERF bullshit.
When I see people posting in “defense” of this bullshit, the common arguments are, “Well, it’s a lesbian bar! Why not go to a mix bar?”
Trans women are women. That’s why. They’re not “mixed,” they are women who deserve a space to go be around other women.
“But-but some women don’t feel safe if a trans woman is there.”
Trans women never feel safe, and excluding them from safe spaces puts them in more danger. Trans women die when we don’t speak up for them and stand with them.
People will try to spin this as a, “Well, that’s just how they feel! They don’t mean any harm.” BUT IT IS HARMFUL TO SAY YOU DON’T BELIEVE TRANS WOMEN ARE WOMEN! It’s bullshit to try to claim you’re an activist for LGBTQIA+ rights and then turn around and pit in the face of the T in the goddamn acronym.
But don’t worry, Chiga-san doubled down on her TERF mentality and threw up this lovely sign with small print now.
Yeah you see that right, they’ve now added the fine print of Women (cisgender) ONLY, because fuck you that’s why.
A club that’s proud to exclude trans women isn’t a club I want to ever patronize, but not only that, I want every single LGBTQIA+ person visiting to know about this policy. I want my trans ladies to know that this place ain’t safe, and I want you to be safe so bad. YOU ARE VALID, and you deserve to be accepted and loved.
I ask that other LGBTQIA+ people stand with their trans sisters and don’t go to this bar. I will never be going back again, which sucks in a major way because I have so many fond memories of that damn place. It’s infuriating that the whole time it turns out the owners were so full of hate and malice towards trans people.
If you’re looking for a trans friendly event, try out this one below.
And finally, if you would like to be in a more inclusive space I do recommend checking out Vox. Vox is a new bar and dance club that promotes as an all around “all gender bar” and “any orientation ok!” It has an inclusive atmosphere, and even puts “FTM、FTX、MTF、MTX” into their event schedules.
If you have also faced discrimination at Goldfinger, please comment and share your story.
UPDATES: May 31st, 2019
Bar Goldfinger has been called out on Twitter by a ton of trans activists. Some of them have even suggested that perhaps Goldfinger should be taken out of Tokyo Rainbow Pride in the future because of its anti-trans stance.
Also a good friend and trans activist, Tomato Hatakeno, wrote a very lengthy piece in Japanese about the issue. If you can read Japanese, I highly recommend it. I’ll try to see if Tomato-san will allow me to translate it into English so others can read it as well.
Bar Goldfinger has now updated their stance to, “If we find someone who doesn’t fit in this event (イベントの雰囲気にそぐわない方）we may possibly ask you to stay out.” in Japanese (shout out to my friend Luna for translating and letting me know about this new picture).
Basically, it’s a shallow attempt to have their transphobic cake and eat it too, in my opinion. They got blasted on social media for being transphobic, and now they’re trying to find a “compromise” on the situation. Here’s the thing though…
IT’S STILL FUCKING TRANSPHOBIC TO KICK TRANS WOMEN OUT OF WOMEN SPACES YOU MASSIVE TWAT WAFFLES.
That is all.
UPDATE #2: I have made a vlog addressing “counterarguments”