LGBT+ issues have been a huge topic this past year. In October 2018, hit reality TV show Terrace House welcomed their first openly bisexual cast member Shunsuke Ikezoe. In February 2019, thirteen gay and lesbian couples sued the Japanese government in a bid to legalize same-sex marriage. In May of this year, the biggest lesbian bar in Tokyo got called out for refusing entry to a transgender woman at a women-only event. And in more positive news, at the beginning of this month, Ibaraki became the first prefecture in Japan to recognize same-sex partnerships.
With topics coming up more frequently than ever in the news, on TV shows, and even in everyday conversations, having a grasp of Japanese LGBT+ vocabulary is sure to come in handy. And if you’re a friend of Dorothy yourself, reviewing these terms before your next trip to a Japanese LGBT+ space will be great to help you describe your own identity and understand the various labels yourself.
While you might get by sometimes with simply saying English words in a katakana-like way (for example, “gay” translates pretty easily into ゲイ or gei), saying the Japanese word ノンケ (nonke) will communicate to Japanese people that you’re actually straight much smoother than saying ストレート (sutoreto).
Let’s take a look at some of the general vocabulary first, then go down the list of LGBTQIA.
General LGBT+ terms
|同性愛||dousei ai||Homosexual love (used for lesbian and gay romantic/sexual love)|
|セクマイ||sekumai||Abbreviation of the English “sexual minority” to mean anything under LGBTQ+|
|同性婚||dousei kon||Same-sex marriage|
L is for Lesbian
|rezubian or bian||Lesbian|
|おなべ||onabe||A masculine lesbian woman, crossdresser, or trans man. The literal translation is “cooking pot.” It was originally used as a derogatory term, but now also has a neutral meaning.|
G for Gay
|おかま||okama||A feminine gay man, crossdresser, or trans woman. The literal translation is “rice pot.” It was also originally used as a derogatory term, but now has a neutral meaning, too.|
B is for Bisexual
|bisekusharu or bi||Bisexual|
T is for Transgender
|toransujenda or toransu||Transgender|
||seidoitsuseishogai||A more medical term for transgender|
|FTM||efu tsu emu||Female-to-male (identifies male, born female) transgender|
|MTF||emu tsu efu||Male-to-female (identifies female, born male) transgender|
Q is for Queer
|X ジェンダー||ekusu jenda||Genderqueer — literally translates to “X- gender”|
|FTX/MTX||efu tsu ekisu / emu tsu ekisu||Female-to-genderqueer (identifies genderqueer, born female) / Male-to-genderqueer (identifies genderqueer, born male)|
I is for Intersex
|intasekusu or haninyo||Intersex, or someone with reproductive/sexual anatomy that doesn’t strictly fit female or male
|中性||chusei||A general term for intersex or androgynous|
A for Asexual
|asekushuaru / museiai||Asexual|