Thanks to the
prominence of a 38-year-old transgender politician in
Tokyo, Japan is becoming more accepting of transgender
people in general, even passing a law allowing them to
change the sex listed on their birth
certificates. Ten years ago there was no word for
"transgender" in Japanese, and Aya Kamikawa was considering
leaving the country, but she is now optimistic, reports
"I thought that Japan was never going to
change," Kamikawa told the German news agency, "but
now I want other transgender people to feel that their
country is not just a place of despair."
Three years ago Kamikawa was elected to the
municipal post of ward assemblywoman in Tokyo, after
standing in front of city train stations with a
loudspeaker and telling commuters she was transgender. The
resulting attention—she appeared in magazines,
newspapers, and television shows—made her one
of the most famous people in Japan.
She won election in part because of policies
that were popular with senior citizens, such as
improving neighborhood amenities like the library and
generally tending to the living conditions of the elderly
and disabled. She also promoted herself as a person
whom voters could go to directly with their concerns.
Next year she plans to run for a second term as
assemblywoman. "I should not just get off the train
and wave goodbye because I have resolved my problems,"
Kamikawa told Deutsche Press-Agentur. "My mission is
not over yet. There are still many who are suffering as I
used to." (The Advocate)