June July 2016
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Japanese Trans Man Brutally Maimed and Murdered in Tokyo

Yoshi Tsuchida

The top level was cordoned off. The entrance was covered with sheets of blue tarp. Police stood guard outside of the apartment building’s main entrance. 

Tokyo’s law enforcement officers were vigilant in the western suburb of Fussa, after a 38-year-old transgender man named Yoshi Tsuchida was found dead, mutilated and draped in a blanket last Friday, with his head covered in a plastic bag, and “his face skinned off by a knife,” The Japan Times reports. 

Tsuchida was found by his adopted daughter, a 28-year-old transgender woman who lived at the apartment with him, reports Agence France-Presse. It is unknown at this time how Tsuchida was killed or by whom. 

Tsuchida’s brutal murder illuminates the global reach of violence against transgender individuals, along with the gruesome propensity for excessively violent ends to such transphobic attacks. But the homicide also sheds light on continuing problems in the reportage of such crimes within both English and Japanese language sources. 

Both The Japan Times, a politically moderate English-language source, and Sankei Shimbun, a politically conservative Japanese-language source, misgendered Tsuchida and his daughter repeatedly. 

Jiji Press, another Japanese source that reported the crime, is known for its sensationalistic reporting on transgender individuals. A story published Monday sought to expose the supposed “secrets and surgery” of gender-affirming medical procedures in China

In reporting on Tsuchida’s death, all of the aforementioned publications called his process of clinical and social transition a “sex change.”

But trans advocates like GLAAD and Veronica Berglyd Olsen encourage journalists to avoid terms like “sex change” in favor of “gender confirmation surgery,” as the former focuses on biological sex instead of gender, which is a social construction. Moreover, the term “sex change” implies a final stage of what is, in reality, an ongoing process of complex transition that has different manifestations for each trans individual.

The coverage of Tsuchida’s murder also suggested the possibility of domestic violence between the older man and his adopted daughter, though the AFP report misgendered the 28-year-old by calling her Tsuchida's "son," while recognizing Tsuchida as the "father." That AFP report also noted that "it is not uncommon in Japan for adults to be adopted."

“There was a history of violence between the two [individuals] and ... police officers had visited their apartment after receiving emergency calls reporting loud voices and people apparently fighting,” reported AFP, citing Sankei Shimbun.

The relevance of that alleged history is unclear, as the AFP did not say if the daughter is a suspect, nor did it include any details about the nature of the past domestic disputes.

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