Social Issues

Japanese girl publishes children’s book to make LGBTI community visible

By Edurne Morillo

Tokyo, Dec 2 (EFE).- Ui, a 12-year-old Japanese girl, discovered the existence of transgender people while watching a program on public television. Unable to find any children’s books on the subject, she decided to tackle the task herself and publish one.

“When I was eight or nine years old, I was watching a program where they explained that there are people who feel a difference between their body and their gender. I asked my parents if it was true and they said yes and this piqued my interest in where these people were,” said Ui in an interview with EFE.

In a country where education about LGBTI people is almost non-existent, the young writer began interviewing transgender people, as well as other activists and prominent members of the collective. This included Robert Cambell, an American researcher on Japanese literature who identifies as gay, or Audrey Tang, a non-binary person who holds the Taiwan Digital Affairs portfolio.

Entitled “To Make Everyone Smile,” the book, published in Japan in September, is 53 pages long and combines interviews with these personalities who have a public profile, as well as ordinary people about what their day-to-day is like in Japan.

“Audrey taught me that when we talk about the rainbow, in Japan we say there are seven colors, but in the rest of the world we talk about eight. I also discovered that there is no difference between men and women and that transgender people realize it when they are children”, Ui said about what she learned from this experience.

The reaction of her classmates and teachers was very positive, said the girl, adding that the book can help avoid conflicts in the classroom. “If someone is not known to be LGBTI, there are times when you can hurt others,” she said.

“Before learning about these people, I would have thought and said that they are weird. Thanks to the interviews I did, I have already stopped thinking like this and came to the conclusion that we are all human beings and there is no need to categorize people.” Ui said.

The girl included drawings in her book since, as she said, it is aimed at other children her age or younger, to help solve the lack of children’s literature on the subject in the country so they can find references to their own identity.

The Japanese LGBTI community suffered a severe setback in May 2021, when parliament voted against an anti-discrimination bill.

Japanese transgender law contravenes human rights by forcing people who legally wish to change their gender to be sterilized and not to be married, and also leaves fathers and mothers who change their sex in a legal vacuum regarding the relationship legal with their children.

Japan is the only member of the G7 that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Although there are municipal ordinances in several cities that recognize it and solve at the local level some of the problems these people face (such as the right to widow’s pensions), same-sex marriage is not legal in the country at the national level.

Ui, born in May 2010, does not yet know if she will opt for literature as a profession or if she will publish more books about LGBTI people, since she is also interested in acting or other topics such as peace and the different battles and wars in which Japan has participated.

“Japan has participated in many wars and caused many victims, so I’m thinking about how they could be abolished,” said the girl, adding she was somewhat embarrassed because she had to miss school for the interview. EFE


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