Vol.3 “Let’s learn about LGBT: Toward the Society Where No One is Left Behind and Sexual Diversity is Accepted”

(NFSJ Cafe #16, April 19, 2019 at Musashino Place)

Guest lecturer: Ms. Mami Sasaki, Intern at NPO Good Aging Ales

We invited Mami Sasaki, who was an intern at Good Aging Ales, a support group for LGBT people, to be a lecturer at the NFSJ Café because she was acquainted with a previous lecturer we had. The interesting thing about NFSJ Cafés is that encounters with people like this are spun together in such a mysterious way.

Ms. Sasaki told us basic knowledge about what problems LGBT people face and how society can be there for them. This was the first time I realized that besides biological sex, sexual orientation (the sex you prefer) and gender identity (how you think about your gender), there is a fourth “expressed sex” (how you want to present yourself to society). Also, that there are dozens of combinations of them, being gradations on a spectrum, not clearly distinguishable.

Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage, and unfortunately, three years later, this has not changed. However, I was happy to learn that some companies have begun to recognize same-sex partnerships for daily services (e.g. life insurance beneficiaries, family rates for cell phones, bank mortgages, etc.) ahead of the government.

On the other hand, in Japanese society, where schools, families, and communities have difficulty recognizing diversity, LGBT people are troubled by their own gender identity and sexual orientation. They might find it difficult to come out for fear of bullying, discrimination, or being marginalized. People in the majority may unintentionally hurt them as well. Good Aging Ales aims to create a society where it is easy for sexual minorities to live together, by increasing the number of “allies” and making the issue visible through fun events and publicity.

Human trafficking is a crime that takes advantage of people in vulnerable situations, often with discrimination and prejudice in the background, so we sometimes hear about LGBT people being victims of trafficking. By listening to Ms. Sasaki talk at this café, I felt I’d like to take a step forward using correct information to create a society where we can all live together in harmony.(Mariko Yamaoka)