I have now been in Japan for 7 weeks, and have been in my job here for 3 weeks. I have finally come round to this blog again to give an update.
These past 7 weeks have been crazy really. I’ve done stuff I never thought I would ever do, EVER. My emotions have switched and flipped and rollercoaster’d all over the place from hour to hour, day to day. I have gone from:
- Hating presentations so much as a kid it would make me phyically sick, and I would find it hard to leave the house.
- To singing a stupid song with actions for a group of adults at training, trying to get them to join in.
- To standing in front of 30 10 y/o’s in a Japanese public school and encouraging them to sing the ABC song with actions.
How has my trans identitiy coped with all the changes? Well, lets break it down.
I travelled with needles, syringes, Nebido and Prostap in my carry on bag. They were all neatly together in a zip bag with documents and leaflets. This was nerve wracking. Highest security was in the UK whilst leaving. I informed the customs lady at security check area I had medication that was liquid and not in a clear case ( I did not mention the needles). Thankfully, in the packed room she did not ask me what it was, just told me to put it through the scanner and if they wanted to ask more they would pull me aside.
They asked no questions. I was glad because I also did not want a bag search as I had a STP hanging around in there. I did get beeped though going through the X-ray body scanner and got a pat down. I was not packing. Nothing was mentioned. First step OK.
I found all the airports had plenty of toliet cubicle facilities so this was no problem. Abu Dhabi I had to go though security again despite staying in the same terminal for the transfer. I was particularly concerned at this airport because of the country’s reputation for treatment of transgender people. How would they take a load of needles, steroids, and an STP?
This check was more lax though. It was busy, and I started to take out liquids from my bag (shampoo etc) only to be told by a harried security just to leave everything in the bag. No body pat down, no bag questions. Another sigh of relief.
On the plane to Narita I had to fill in a declaration form about bring in prohibited or restricted items. The form was ambiguous in it’s wording and I used this to my advantage. Basically I had already declared to Japan I was bringing in drugs and needles, and I had a certificate from them. Therefore, what I had was not “not allowed”. I did not check the box.
At Narita I was slow coming out due to having to wait 45 mins to get a residence card. I was bricking it about this, last time I had come to Japan and got finger prints done I was down as “female” and using my old name. Would my prints now flash up with a “WARNING” sign?….. nope. I was so shocked and nervous when she handed me the documents I was shaking like a leaf.
Finally the customs/bag check area, I grappled with all my bags and documents and stumbled over to one of the desks, dumping a load down and handing over what he needed. Internally wishing to hell to pass on a bag check which I saw several other foreigners going through at the desks around me. Would I get in trouble for a non-declaration? All I was asked was what I was doing, and where. He then looked at me for 5 seconds, as if deciding, before letting me on my way. Wooooooo!!!!!!
What I took from all this? Travelling with transgender medication is doable, but nerve wracking. If I could, I would avoid Abu Dhabi, it just happened to be the cheapest flight. Having all the documention in order is a must to stay sane and fight the nerves. Otherwise, facilities are fine.
General trans life in Japan
Every so often a transgener topic pops up here, like a transman polititian or a transwoman celebrity. Japan seems more focused on working on it’s lesbian/gay acceptance atm. Different areas are deciding on legislation to allow marriage, adoption etc. At work I would not feel comfortable telling people I am transgender. Especially with the language barrier and not being able to answer any questions they had it would just be awkward. Plus I go to 4 schools and therefore have abount 30 teachers I regularly work with – I think it’s going to be hard to get to know any of them enough to feel I want to tell them. Bathroom facilities at school – well often there is one cubicle and thats it. As I don’t teach every lesson however, there is plenty of times when it’s free (and also a great place to go and check my phone messages).
I find Japan surprisingly a very male – female gendered society, although this may be different in the big cities – I am in the countryside, and things are quite traditional. Woman and men stay pretty seperate, woman seem 100% to be expected to be raising the kids, often while working a part time job or even full time. Saying that, I am very much on the periphery of society, so I don’t know the real emotions and feelings of the majority here. Maybe my “outsider” view is distorted.
I have avoided one invitation to a onsen – and will continue to do so. I will tackle beach/swimming stuff when I come to it if need be.
If anyone has any questions on other trans stuff in Japan feel free to message me 🙂 . For now it’s Golden Week and I have a few days off. Atm though, i’m lesson planning!