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Thread: Transgender people in the JET program

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    Junior Member Vivien's Avatar
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    Default Transgender people in the JET program

    Hello everyone I had a few questions and concerns about the JET program. I'm a sophomore in College right and I love teaching others and i'm interested in different cultures and thought the JET program would be a lot of fun and an interesting experience. However I'm a transgender woman, meaning I was born male but now i'm transitioning to female, and i'm worried would I even be allowed to do JET(due to the time I would be going, I'd still have my ids as male and what not. Also I do pass most of my college friends american, and Japanese have no ideal and if I get accepted into program I also wouldn't tell anyone and just keep it to myself, and also say if I can't teach at a school is there other programs in JET or others where lets say I could teach adults or do other things?

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    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vivien View Post
    Hello everyone I had a few questions and concerns about the JET program. I'm a sophomore in College right and I love teaching others and i'm interested in different cultures and thought the JET program would be a lot of fun and an interesting experience. However I'm a transgender woman, meaning I was born male but now i'm transitioning to female, and i'm worried would I even be allowed to do JET(due to the time I would be going, I'd still have my ids as male and what not. Also I do pass most of my college friends american, and Japanese have no ideal and if I get accepted into program I also wouldn't tell anyone and just keep it to myself, and also say if I can't teach at a school is there other programs in JET or others where lets say I could teach adults or do other things?
    WTF. What is that last sentence? I can assure you, if this is any indication of your English language ability, getting into JET is gonna be an uphill battle for you, to say the least.

    If your passport says you're male, as far as JET/CLAIR is concerned, you're male. Your sexual orientation/status/whatever shouldn't affect your chances of being accepted into the program, but it may affect your placement, and there's a good chance it may affect your relationship with your BoE, especially if you are vocal/in-your-face/obnoxious about your sexuality.

    Make sure you're ready for the sort of behavior you will encounter regarding your sexuality in Japan. Japan is a pretty different place than the US or other Western nations.

    If you're interested in programs other than JET, there's another sub-forum for that.
    Quote Originally Posted by 00Bear00 View Post
    When I read your post I suddenly feel like I am so far away from being crazy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

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    Junior Member Vivien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by word View Post
    WTF. What is that last sentence? I can assure you, if this is any indication of your English language ability, getting into JET is gonna be an uphill battle for you, to say the least.

    If your passport says you're male, as far as JET/CLAIR is concerned, you're male. Your sexual orientation/status/whatever shouldn't affect your chances of being accepted into the program, but it may affect your placement, and there's a good chance it may affect your relationship with your BoE, especially if you are vocal/in-your-face/obnoxious about your sexuality.

    Make sure you're ready for the sort of behavior you will encounter regarding your sexuality in Japan. Japan is a pretty different place than the US or other Western nations.

    If you're interested in programs other than JET, there's another sub-forum for that.
    Sorry about my grammar mistake.

    I don't think your understanding what i'm asking. Sexuality and gender are way two different things. My sexuality has nothing to do with this topic. I'm asking about my gender issue.

    Also thanks for the link will check it out.
    Last edited by Vivien; March 11th, 2012 at 18:07.

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    disobedient avocado Lianwen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    Will you def. be a woman by the time you fly to Japan?

    Because you can get a new passport as late as a day or two before you get your visa for working (I did, twice. Once because I never had gotten a passport before - literally had one made the afternoon before flying out, and the second time, a little over a day before leaving for JET.) It's difficult, but entirely possible as each situation is different.

    You may view sexuality and gender as two different things ( hey, I think so too!) but this is Japan.

    Advice - mark yourself off as a female on the JET application. I don't recall it saying on the application to mark yourself as the gender you were born as.

    I don't know how you would mark the medical section though. Personally I wouldn't say anything. But, um. That's because I consider transitioning more akin to a cosmetic surgery, and I know that if I had gotten a breast job or a nose job, I wouldn't have disclosed that on my JET application.

    Also. Try asking here: stonewalljapan : Stonewall Japan

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    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    F*ck; what is the most modern PC term for that? Gender identity? C'mon, guys. Gimme some credit; it's really difficult to keep up with the politically-correct jargon these days, especially when I'm living in this bizarre, non-Western society...

    OP: please accept my sincere apologies for my inability to properly express myself in appropriate, politically-correct, modern terms. Please imagine the term "gender identity" in the place of the term "sexuality" in my previous post (if, in fact, that is the correct way to refer to your particular question/situation).
    Last edited by word; March 11th, 2012 at 20:39. Reason: My feeble PC skills.
    Quote Originally Posted by 00Bear00 View Post
    When I read your post I suddenly feel like I am so far away from being crazy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    Basically on issues of gender, sexuality and gender identity imagine Japan is still in the 1960s and imagine how you'd need to act in the 1960s.

    There IS Aya Kamikawa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia but it's one politician in all of the levels of government across Japan. And it's in Tokyo which is quite different from where you'd likely be placed on JET.

    Japan isn't Thailand on the transgender front (that's somewhere I'd HIGHLY recommend for a MTF based on my few brief experiences), but it does have some celebrities that are transgendered. I'm not sure how many of them do it just for the act, though.

    Basically if you can have papers that say you are female you'd have less problems as others have said. It's not something that even I, as a gay man, know much anything about. Most Japanese people probably wouldn't understand or quite "get" what you mean. They'll likely conflate transvestite with transsexual and think you just prefer to dress as a woman, but I mean, even in Western countries many people wouldn't get that difference.

    I honestly think it'd be impossible to really predict the kind of reception you'd get, simply because it's so far beyond the kind of experience of most Japanese people, or even most JETs in Japan. You might get negative reactions (in Japan this means exclusion more than overt bigotry), confusion or just acceptance. More than likely a mix of the three based on the individuals in question.

    Also consider that if you require certain hormones or treatments that may be harder to access in Japan.

    The "Okama" trope in Japan, at least as I experienced it through mass media, is more about men that are obviously manly dressed as females. Though there are a few celebrities that are less obviously transsexual. And perhaps there are some that no-one even knows about.

    Having no-one know you were born male would be the easiest option, it just depends if you could go about organising the paperwork to ensure that.

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    VIP UPGRAYEDD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    I wouldn't recommend JET unless you can get all of your official paperwork to reflect your status as a female. Before you apply.

    I just can't imagine a situation where a BOE/school will accept you working there as a woman when all of your paperwork says male on it....sorry.
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    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Related story: when I had a snowboard rack put on my car earlier this year, the Autobacs clerk was walking to my car, where the mechanic was waiting to explain how to use said rack. When we were about two meters away from the car/mechanic, the dude stopped, pointed at the mechanic, and said "He is girl." Mechanic had a short, boyish haircut, no tits, and looked pretty androgynous, but this could be said for many young Japanese people. I didn't really see how the gender of the mechanic was important, so I just sort of gave him the standard Japanese acknowledgement, "Nnn." He really wanted to make sure that I understood, though, so he stopped me, pointed again, and repeated himself more loudly, "He is girl." I'm all thinking "WTF, she's right there, she can hear you, and wtf does this have to do with anything?" She seemed to take it in stride and happily explained the workings of the snowboard rack to me in passable English. When she started talking, it became apparent that she was, in fact, female, but she didn't do that annoying squeaky thing with her voice like so many young Japanese girls do, which was remarkably refreshing. Much as I'd expected, her gender/gender identity was irrelevant to the explanation of the snowboarding rack.

    That's the sort of thing that you'd have to be ready for; people will be seemingly rude, say things that in Western society would be inappropriate, or just openly discuss your gender/sexuality/whatever for no reason whatsoever, simply because you're perceived as being different somehow.
    Quote Originally Posted by 00Bear00 View Post
    When I read your post I suddenly feel like I am so far away from being crazy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

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    Senior Member Tyr's Avatar
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    Japan is quite weird on this sort of thing.
    A friend of mine has a bunch of transgender kids at his school. He knew they were transgender but still only ever saw them as their chosen gender. His school has no dress code so they just dress how they want.
    Except along comes graduation....they're having to dress smartly as their natural gender. He mentioned the surprise of suddenly having this boy he's never met before acting like he knew him then realising who it was.

    Go for it anyway. The Jet program is very big on diversity and trying to show a wide range of foreigners. They do try to place people in schools somewhat relevant to them- this guy in the school with lots of transgender kids was some sort of LGBT officer or somesuch back at uni.

    Tick male on the forms if that is what your official documentation still says. Little things like that can get you disqualified if done wrong. There won't be a situation though where you get sent to a school expecting a guy and then all hell breaks lose when they're faced with a girl.
    I guess your transgenderness will be covered pretty well by the medical part of the app.
    Last edited by Tyr; March 13th, 2012 at 17:19.

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    Quote Originally Posted by word View Post
    That's the sort of thing that you'd have to be ready for; people will be seemingly rude, say things that in Western society would be inappropriate, or just openly discuss your gender/sexuality/whatever for no reason whatsoever, simply because you're perceived as being different somehow.
    Word.

    In all probability none of us really knows how they will respond because we haven't been in that situation. It may be one of those "taboo subject" things where no-one will ever talk about it or you may find office staff talk about you right in front of your face without caring. What you cannot expect is for it to be treated with the same cautious level of political correctness as it would back home, especially not in the rural placements that JETs tend to be on. The best thing to do is probably to just say you are the sex that you outwardly appear to be and stick with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RomulusLupin View Post
    Is there any way for you to have your identification (passport/driver's license/anything else) to indicate that you're female before applying/coming to Japan? word may have misunderstood the sexuality/gender issue, but I don't think he's wrong that people are going to expect you to be what is written on paper. If the papers say male, they're going to expect certain things, even if JET has made an effort to place you somewhere amenable to your transgender status.

    Excuse my ignorance on the issue, but I think that even if you don't consider your transition to female complete, you should seriously consider looking into having your identification changed to reflect the fact that you'll be living as a female by the time you graduate.
    From what I understand, it's not just a matter of paperwork to change your gender on your ID. You have to have undergone the surgery by a doctor qualified to do gender reassignment (I think?).

    I could imagine it would be very emotionally difficult if you went onto JET with your ID showing male and you being (for all intents and purposes) female. I would imagine you would actually have to tell them on the first day otherwise getting your Alien Registration Card will not be possible. Then there is the way that they might react, this is an incredibly grey area - as others have mentioned, no-one can possibly guess at their reaction. The only thing I would suggest is that Japanese reactions are much more likely to be toward the negative end of the spectrum than in a western country where people are more aware of gender issues.

    By all means go for it, but expect that it is likely that someone in your school/BoE are not going to understand and may inadvertently say things which you would feel are incredibly insensitive/rude. Plus, Japanese seem to be massive gossips - so if your BoE knows, everyone in your school/town will know.

    Logistically, it's perfectly possible to apply as a transgender. But it has the potential to be really tough if your ID and appearance clash.

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    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    Not that I care which [insert politically correct term here] you are, but Japan can be a pretty conservative place when it comes to certain things. Yes there are certainly people who dress in the opposite gender, and the Okama idea seems to be as previously mentioned, kinda like horrible drag queens, but being expected to be treated as a gender you are biologically not representing might be asking a bit much here. Further more, they might not see it as appropriate for teaching students (traditional conservative values and such).

    I could be completely wrong, but given how "stiff" other elements of the work place culture are, I could see it being quite difficult to be accepted, and likely you would be screened out. OR you could get it here, have the "truth" revealed and then have the worst year of your life before they decided to not extend a contract offer for the next year for whatever made up reason.

    Also keep in mind they might just fire you on the grounds that you "lied" on your application if they find out you are misrepresenting your chromosomes. Regardless how much you change your outward appearance.

    EDIT: Was I being over the top again word? Sorry
    Last edited by Gizmotech; March 14th, 2012 at 14:33.

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    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    I notice you haven't posted since your original two posts; I sincerely hope we didn't scare you off. I promise you, nothing that we can say to you here can begin to approach the sort of behavior and language that you may encounter here in Japan. If you can't handle a bit of ribbing and confusion on a web forum, then life in Japan is probably gonna be really, really, REALLY difficult for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by 00Bear00 View Post
    When I read your post I suddenly feel like I am so far away from being crazy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

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    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    do you sit down to pee?
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

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    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    I'm just wondering if "it" will require a heated toilet seat in their apartment or not. they can be expensive and some boes wont want to pay for one.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

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    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    Always trust Ini to be an equal-opportunity-discriminator. He discriminates against everyone equally at all opportunities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by word View Post
    I notice you haven't posted since your original two posts; I sincerely hope we didn't scare you off. I promise you, nothing that we can say to you here can begin to approach the sort of behavior and language that you may encounter here in Japan. If you can't handle a bit of ribbing and confusion on a web forum, then life in Japan is probably gonna be really, really, REALLY difficult for you.
    I can assure you that LGBTQ people know exactly how much it sucks to be LGBTQ in a whole host of settings. That doesn't mean crappy jokes and ignorance slide off our backs. We just crumple it up into a little ball inside until we explode in a firework of rainbows and leather chaps. True story, that's where pride parades come from.

    To the OP, if you're still hanging around!

    If you're still presenting as male, or even still considered male by the government, when it comes time for JET to roll around, well. It sucks, but sometimes it's 'honesty' versus your career. It's never fun being back in the closet, but that's a possibility you may have to face. On the upside, depending on how feminine a lady you are, masculinity isn't defined quite the same way in Asia. You may find ways to express yourself without anyone batting any eyelash. I recommend finding a really solid online trans resource that you can lean on when things get tough and there are no immediate sources of support.

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    Junior Member Vivien's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    Hey guys! Sorry for my late reply got pretty busy near the ending of my semester.
    I did talk with some other LGBT members who have been on JET and talked with people they knew. I'm glad to say that I can have all of my documentation changed on my passport to match with the gender I identify with.
    If I do get accepted more then likely I will be placed in a city area near doctors who can help with my issue.
    and like I told them I'm not gonna tell anyone about my issue (I pass as female flawlessly)
    So I think things will work out just fine

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    OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE mteacher80's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transgender people in the JET program

    we are still waiting to see some pictures to tell you if you pass or not!
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