Posted in LGBTQ in Japan

Transphobia in Nichome: Bar Goldfinger Is On My Shitlist

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).

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[Facebook Post: Name Redacted for Privacy Concerns]

“CW: Transphobia

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.

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The friend has now posted a letter to Goldfinger via Twitter  in order to receive answers on the unfair treatment that happened that night.


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.


Translation: Here is the issue. If the store (group) that has publicly stated they exclude trans women and also take part in TRP (Tokyo Rainbow Pride) which speaks on the solidarity of LGBT people and shakes the rainbow flag, it cannot but be forced to say “this is not acceptable” if they stand with transgender people. I think that’s not only me who thinks so.
Translation: For example, suppose a foreigner settles in Japan, overcomes various difficulties, and acquires their Japanese nationality. If you say to this person, “Yes, you are Japanese now, but you are originally a foreigner, and you can not be given the same rights as all other Japanese people,” it would be obvious discrimination. What GF is doing is such a vile act.
Translation: Hey TRP, Japan’s largest lesbian event bar that attends Tokyo Rainbow pride. Golfinger has declared that it should be operated as “cis-gender only” based on the current situation!
Translation from bottom Tweet and then top Tweet: [Speaking] as one of the cis-gender (assigned gender) male gays (male homosexuals). As someone who believes in LGBT Rights. This movement of exclusion of trans women can have an impact on the LGBT community and society, which will enhance transphobia. I strongly protest goldfinger. #NoGoldFinger #goldfingersince1991. At least, what role did transgender people play in gay rights (LGBT Rights)? They reestablished the foundations of what gender and sex / sexuality means to us. The most successful lesbian team should never be encouraging trans exclusion. The impact is [just] too great.

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).

No photo description available.

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”

Posted in comedy show, LGBTQ in Japan, YouTube Videos

Comedy Shows!! December 9th and 15th

Hey all!

Doing some shameless self-promo here. I’m performing at two comedy shows this month with two different but equally beloved and important groups.

First up this Saturday is the “Out of the Closet Comedy Show!” I’ll be performing the “Snatch Game” with two other members. We’ll also be auctioning off items for Rainbow Railroad, an LGBTQIA+ organization that helps queer refugees.

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But that’s not all! I’ll also be performing with the Tokyo Women’s Comedy Club in “That’s What She Said IV: Christmas Cheer.” For this event, we will be auctioning items as well to go towards awareness and prevention of domestic violence.

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Please head on over to either event and watch me try to be funny. It’ll be a blast!

 

Posted in LGBTQ in Japan, Teaching Things

To the LGBTQIA+ Students:

Hi, so I’m Bi-sexual. Yep, the rumors were true kids. If some of you asked, I was honest, but I didn’t volunteer that information much. Some of you told me in whispers that you were girls that like girls or boys who liked boys, and I was always supportive of you. However, there were so many of you still in the closet, might still be. This letter is more for you than for the others, but I think both of you could benefit from it.

 

I wanted to tell you all that I supported you 100% for whatever partner(s) you chose for yourself. The road can be hard and long to finding love, but trying to find love in the conservative inaka where you’re not sure you can be yourself around anyone, that’s a lot harder than the average straight love. I would say to you now to go to LGBT Youth Japan to connect with people like yourself online, so you know for a fact you’re not alone in your struggles.

You deserve to be treated equally and fairly. I would be an idiot to think none of you were bullied for it when I wasn’t looking. No one should bear the burden of senseless hatred and malice. If you were bullied or cast out for being yourself, I’m so sorry. It’s not your fault. You’re worthy of love and acceptance, let no one else make you think otherwise.

On that scary note, I do want to encourage you to try to come out to people you trust. It’s better for friends to know who you really are, because only true friends will love you for all that you are. I told some of my friends in Ibaraki, and of course some understood and some didn’t. Most of those friends, though, tried to pretend I was just kidding or didn’t know what I was saying. But there was a solid mix of Japanese and international friends who accepted me, and I chose them over the others as my other family.

Find the people who will accept you, not tolerate or begrudgingly “put up” with your queerness, but celebrate it as a part of you. Life is too short to waste it trying to make narrow minded people happy. You shouldn’t have to drain your emotional energy on people who will never see you as the wonderful person you are. Instead, find the ones who are open minded, who will boost you up and lift your spirits when you feel down. It’s the most important thing to me, that you are happy and with people who make you happy.

There are actually several different groups you can find online if you don’t feel comfortable coming out just yet. Nijiro Gakkou (NPO法人にじいろ学校) is another organization more focused for students in general. If you are all in university by this point, that would be a better group for you. If you would like to join a more international crowd, there is Stonewall Japan  which is the organization I’m currently affiliated with as it is the most English friendly. There is also a queer friendly media news outlet called Out In Japan if you want to find good articles to help you with your journey of self discovery.

In hindsight, I wonder if I should’ve been more open for all of you. Maybe I should’ve worn more rainbow ribbons? Maybe I should’ve pushed for more posters or materials of acceptance around the schools? I wonder these things because I know for a fact that there were more of you than I knew. So many of you were in the closet, hiding who you were, bidding your time until university when you could be yourselves.

But also looking back, I know that in telling those other students and my few co-workers probably meant that everyone knew. I mean, if everyone knew I was going to the grocery store on Saturdays, it’s ridiculous to think information like my sexuality somehow didn’t spread like wildfire. I hope at the very least I wasn’t a disappointing role model for being queer, somehow.

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It also soothes my soul that I know I was donating, volunteering, and doing things for the community whenever I had time. If you’re ever at the Tokyo Rainbow Pride events, you’ll find me there until I leave the country. I will always be a body there to count among the thousands in support of LGBTQIA+ equal rights. I’ll always march for it, for you, in the hopes that one day you’ll get those rights.

With each passing year LGBTQIA+ rights are improving, slowly but surely. Same sex marriages still aren’t legal, but Shibuya and Osaka are allowing for certificates. It gives me hope for the future, for those of you who would want to have a wife or husband who is the same gender as you, or a transperson, or intersex, just so long as you’re both consenting adults. Everyone deserves the equal right to marry the person they love.

I hope you will have that happiness, you deserve it.

 

 

 

Posted in LGBTQ in Japan

Tokyo Rainbow Pride Festa and Parade!

For the Saturday and Sunday of Golden Week, I volunteered to organize the Stonewall Japan booth. Pride events are our biggest draw in, both in terms of members as well as donations. However, I couldn’t do it all on my own. That’s where the awesome Stonewall Japan volunteers come in! We had a blast doing face paints for people, networking with other pro-LGBTQ+ organizations, and in general just talking with new people about Stonewall Japan.

For me, it involved a lot of phone calls and email responding, too. I never realized until I did this event just how much work people behind the scenes had to do. I was non-stop moving from nine in the morning until six thirty in the evening. At one point, we thought we wouldn’t have enough face paint to get through the day, so I had to run over to the DIASO and buy more. Takashita Street DAISO is crazy busy on a normal day, but with thousands of people attending the event? It took forever.

It wasn’t all work though, I had a one hour lunch break where I met up with Rebecca. We went to this place called The Taproom, which served some really awesome craft beers as well as good food. I chose the quickest thing I could think of for them to make, which was yakitori (chicken sticks).

Right after lunch was over, I was running right back to the booth to make sure volunteers managed to find their way to the booth. Unfortunately, a few people got lost, so I had to direct them as well as call people to find the picnic that was set up in Yoyogi Park.

It sounds like I’m complaining maybe, but I did enjoy it. I was just so exhausted! After having gone to Kyoto for two days, then running around Tokyo the day before, working as a volunteer on the weekend running around yet again was just hard! Don’t get me wrong though, being a part of Pride was well worth all of the stress. I liked feeling I was being a part of a good change in things socially here in Japan.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take as many pictures because of the working things. I ended up just staying near the booth until breakdown at six thirty. Immediately after that, I got in line for the best pancakes ever! If you haven’t been to Cafe Gram, you really should. They have the fluffiest pancakes you’ll ever eat.

Rebecca and I managed to get the last order of them (see photo left). In order to get these fluffy pancakes, you have to show up at certain times in order to get the pancake reservation, and then wait another hour or so before you can eat. They only make these pancake in limited batches. We got the last order of the day, how lucky is that?!

The only downside is that you’re not allowed to share orders, so Rebecca had to buy something too. She chose the apple pancakes, which were not a bad choice at all. There were also kiwis and oranges between the pancakes, which was delightfully tangy and sweet all at once.

When we finished eating breakfast for dinner, we got also the last reservation for the Harajuku Owl Cafe!

I don’t know how we got this much luck, but it was awesome! The owls were super tame, very calm, and a joy to pet. That’s right, you can pet most of them. However, one spotted owl (bottom left in the photos) would like to bite at you rather than let you touch him. And there was a tiny angry owl you could pet, but he wasn’t pleased about it so much.

However, the larger owls were totally fine with getting picked up and petted.

When our hour was over, we had to run yet again. Stonewall Japan was doing a bar crawl that night in Nichome, and I wanted to catch up with the group just to say hello. Most of my friends intended to stay out all night, but I couldn’t do that as I had to get up early for the booth and parade prep the next day. Still, I did manage to meet some new people as well as see some old faces I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Bar Crawl.jpg

The Bar Crawl in Nichome is a lot of fun, and I really do wish I could’ve stuck around, but I was about ready to drop as it was.

The next morning, I got up early and prepped before getting on the train. I had decided months ago that I was going to do a really silly cosplay. Rainbow Brite was a staple of my childhood, and I mean a spunky girl with rainbows and magic, what’s not to like? So I got all dressed up and headed out.

Before I headed out with the Stonewall group, I made sure volunteers were set up at the booth with everything. I also took an opportunity to get some pics with various drag queens at the event as well, because hello fabulous!

Stonewall met up for a group photo around eleven so we could all walk together to the float area right after. Thankfully, a lot of people showed up to support the walk, even though it was a super hot day and the march was not a short one.

Pre-Parade

We actually waited just in the sun for a good forty five minutes before we actually started marching, it was a bit tough, but when we did start marching it was magical!

We managed to get behind a DJ float, which meant we got pumping music the whole way through! It was so amazing to see the support lining the streets. Everybody was cheering and waving, high five-ing people as they walked onward, and I swear there were way more camera people than the previous year.

The walk took a good hour long trek from Yoyogi Stadium, to Shibuya Crossing, and then back around through the Shibuya main highway area, and then we returned to Yoyogi Stadium. The police were allowing traffic to flow, so unlike in New York City and other Prides, there isn’t a standstill to let the parade go without a break, which is part of the reason for why it took that long.

We broke records yet again for both attendance in the Festa and the Parade, with over 6,000 attendees. How cool is that?! Here’s hoping these solidarity efforts will make some effective changes sometime soon. I would love for marriage equality to come to Japan before the 2020 Olympics. As it stands, I’m not sure it will happen, but at events like Tokyo Rainbow Pride, I have hope.

I’m proud of what Stonewall managed to accomplish that weekend, even though there were bumps along the way, it all managed to work out. Hopefully, next year will be even better.

After six(ish), Rebecca and I headed home to go plan out the last day of her vacation. We wanted to get one more sightseeing spot squeezed in before I saw her off to the airport. And so we chose the obvious one: Tokyo SkyTree!

Posted in Travels in Japan

Golden Week Adventures: Back in Tokyo!

In continuation from the other Golden Week post, Rebecca and I headed back to Tokyo after our three days in Kyoto. We woke up early and headed off to Ginza to meet up with a mutual friend, Keni. We wanted to eat at a well known sushi restaurant called Sushi no Midori. The seafood and fish are brought in fresh there everyday, so as you can imagine, it was supremely delicious.

The lunch menu allows for a more than reasonable 2,000 yen plate of sushi, all freshly made by the chefs on order.

These plates came with ten different kinds of sushi. A maguro (tuna) roll, a long eel sushi, ikura (fish egg), different cuts of salmon and tuna along the top, oyster, ebi (shrimp), kani (crab), and sweet eggs. Honestly, it was the best sushi I’ve ever had in Japan, and the price couldn’t be beat.

Rebecca and I left aft our sushi lunch for Shibuya. Of course, we did our obligatory pictures with Hachi as well as the Shibuya crossing.

But the main event for this adventure was Cat Cafe Mocha. Nestled on the 7th floor down the street from Shibuya crossing is an adorable little cat hideaway.

Although most of the cats were just sleepy kitties, there were a couple of very chill cats that allowed petting and sought out human attention. Of course, the people who bought the extra snack packs got more love than us snack-less humans.

As adorable as the cats were, I really like the layout of the cafe itself. There were so many cool looking cat trees were the cats could leap up to nap, and the neat birdcage like places for them to sleep above the customers. The stairways also had these nooks with small doorways for cats to walk in and out of. Basically, everything was designed in the place with cats in mind, and I enjoyed that architectural idea put into practice. When I’m an old cat lady, I’ll keep this place in mind for my home layout.

After we spent a good couple of hours in there, Rebecca wanted to head over to this specialty green tea restaurant.

Green Tea Restaurant

1899 Ochanomizu makes everything in their restaurant with green tea. They even have a selection of green tea beer, which was what she wanted to try out. We ended up getting the darker variety of beer along with a savory seasonal green tea egg custard recommended to us by our waiter.

The green tea beer was bitter on top of bitter, which somehow worked out deliciously. Even though the hops were a bit poignant in that combination, it was still refreshing and settled well on my tongue. The egg custard’s green tea was more of an under-taste, really the saltiness kind of cut through the bitter aspect of the matcha.

It was already a full day, but oh we weren’t done! I was set up to volunteer for Tokyo Closet Ball that night (because I like to stress myself out, apparently). We zipped over in a taxi from the restaurant to the venue Gyoen Sound in Shinjuku.

Tokyo Closet Ball is a drag and also off the wall sort of entertainment show. This particular show was a part of Tokyo Rainbow Pride Week.

And boy-howdy, did it ever! The performances were phenomenal. We even had an Austrian drag queen come as a guest performer, and she was AMAZING! We had a fantastic rendition of “Sweet Transvestite” from Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as some great LGBT comedy in between with the M.C.s Tatianna and Eric Shaw, and even a little burlesque featuring the Pride flag!

By the end of the show, Rebecca and I were exhausted. Having been run ragged from hiking through Kyoto, we were all set for sleep. We would need it, because the next day we’d be up in Harajuku for the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Festa!