Hello, thanks for visiting! For my first post I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself, and why I have decided to write this blog.
I am a third year BA Japanese student currently studying at the University of London. As part of my degree programme I will be studying as an exchange student at Kobe University in Japan for 1 year! Although I am excited to be able to spend so much time in a country which I have been drawn to since I was very young, as a FtM (female to male) transgender I depart for my study year abroad with some apprehension.
Back in 2014 I legally changed my name to Phoenix Charles, but I was not “out” to many of my friends at University until April of this year when I decided to fully come out to all of my friends on Facebook. I also emailed my University tutors to let them know. Shortly after this I was diagnosed with gender identity disorder and prescribed testosterone gel, which I have been using daily since May 2017.
For me personally as a transgender person it often feels as though I am quite restricted when it comes to travel. Whenever I got anywhere for more than a few hours I always need to think about things such as, will there be a bathroom which I feel safe and comfortable to use? Will I be out long enough that my chest binder will begin to feel uncomfortable and painful? Do I “pass” well enough to avoid being misgendered? I have gotten used to coping with these issues in the UK, however Japan is unknown territory for me; I will have to discover how to navigate life as a transgender person in Japan.
Although it is early days for me in terms of transition, I have decided that I do not want to put my life and my degree course on hold simply because I am transgender. Nor should I have to. Admittedly I have had emotional ups and downs, however whilst I am mentally an physically fit to do so I believe that I should be able to continue to live a normal life just like any other student my age. It is for this reason that I have chosen to continue with my degree course and take the opportunity to study abroad in Japan. As there doesn’t appear to be much information available online (neither in English nor Japanese) regarding transition in Japan, I have decided to write this blog in order to share my own experiences.
By recording my journey, I hope that other transgender people will be able to learn from my experiences and have a greater insight in to what to expect when traveling in Japan. I also want to show that being transgender doesn’t mean that you must limit your aspirations, even if sometimes the road ahead seems difficult and full of complications. I believe that by stepping out into the unknown and pushing the boundaries which society places upon us is a necessity in the fight for trans equality. I would like to help pave the way for future generations of transgender people to be able to confidently follow their dreams.