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Japan slowly begins to openly discuss crossdressing men in heterosexual relationships

55 Comments
By Cara Clegg

Crossdressing and genderbending are not only long-time staples of Japanese anime and manga, but also of TV and celebrity culture. From this, anyone would think that Japan was one of the most open and accepting countries when it comes to people who don’t fit into traditional gender roles or relationships.

However, the reality outside of media and entertainment is often quite different. Family and work life are both still clearly divided down gender lines, and men who engage in anything that blurs or crosses these lines are generally shunned. But could the girl who dumps a guy just because he turns up to a date in a dress be the one who’s really missing out?

The recent announcement of the divorce of Japanese power couple actress Miho Nakayama and her writer/director husband Hitonari Tsuji has set tongues in the celebrity gossip blogosphere wagging, not least because one of the reasons for their split is rumored to be that Tsuji’s wife was not happy when he began to adopt a more feminine look, including growing his hair long and painting his nails. Spurred on by this, an article on dot.asahi has interviewed people quick to come to the defense of relationships where the man steps outside of traditional images of masculinity.

Terms such as transgendered and transvestite have loaded meanings in English that don’t always correlate with Japanese views, so in this case we’ll be using the Japanese term "otoko no ko." The terms "otoko no ko" and "josoushi" are used to describe a man who dresses like, and sometimes also lives like, a woman. "Otoko no ko" has the same reading as the word for boy (男の子), but in this case the final kanji character is replaced with the one for daughter (男の娘), which changes the meaning.

According to Naoko Tachibana, the "otoko no ko" boom began around 2009 and continues to grow with the launch of makeup magazines and salons catering specifically to them. It’s certainly true that companies have been scrambling to get their fingers in the pie of this niche market with all kinds of unnecessary products!

Naoko is a photographer and author of "otoko no ko photobook Yuri Danshi," and she sees between 20 and 30 crossdressers in her studio every month. As such, she has plenty of opportunities to find out about the love lives of these guys, and apparently they’re doing pretty well for themselves. She says that women are attracted to them because they have "the cuteness and beauty of a woman," but the contrast with their still very much intact "maleness" is exciting. It’s also fun for girls to dress them up like a doll, putting makeup on them and choosing clothes for them.

Of course, a man will not necessarily be aware of his own inclinations when he marries, and it may only be years later that he "awakens" to it. According to Naoko, "there are three times in a man’s life when he might awaken to the fact that he enjoys women’s clothing. First is puberty, the next is in his 30s/40s, and finally in his 60s after retirement. At times when the role expected of a man in society and the household changes, they can experience a ‘gender crisis.'"

Unfortunately, due to societal pressure to conform, many men will keep it to themselves, which couples counselor Mariko Murakoshi says leads to much anxiety. She points out that there are plenty of sporty and androgynous women out there, so why shouldn’t there be men who enjoy more feminine styles. She also believes that women can find lots to love in a softer kind of man who shares their world view, rather than the stereotypical domineering husband. And not only that, but they’ll be able to go clothes and makeup shopping together. Unless of course she’s actually a tomboy.

Naoko agrees with Mariko that the key is to be open, and insists that "couples where the woman approves of her man being an 'otoko no ko' are long-lasting. Since learning that you enjoy wearing women’s clothing isn’t something you can just ‘grow out of’, you shouldn’t hide it. I have seen many couples whose bonds have been strengthened by accepting this."

While this article is overly sugary and fails to address the many fears and worries that not only the "otoko no ko" themselves but also their partners must face, it’s refreshing to hear people talking positively about something that most of Japanese society still doesn’t really know how to deal with.

Source: Jin115

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55 Comments
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Japan slowly begins to openly discuss crossdressing men in heterosexual relationships

LIke in many other countries, I expect this will be the hot topic of conversation around countless Japanese breakfast tables in the near future....

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Visual Kai, that's all I have to say :)

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Crossdressing boy characters or "traps" are popular in Anime and Manga.

One show, Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin has one named Dark who accompanies a schoolgirl detective named Tensai!

Great anime!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Tsuji’s wife was not happy when he began to adopt a more feminine look, including growing his hair long and painting his nails.

Growing his hair long? ... people wouldn't even blink back home. Growing nails long and wearing nail polish... mmm... it all depends on how long and what color. Just over the the tips of the fingers wouldn't be too long, and depending on the color of nail polish used it wouldn't be too bad.

Over-reaction much Tsuji? I think so. I mean women walk around all the time in gasp TROUSERS!!! And many women cut their hair short!! With boyish cuts!!

Skipping a few haircuts and wearing some nail polish doesn't seem like such a big deal.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Yup, major issue.

I believe some Ministry level committees should be established to deal with this very issue.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Crossdressing and genderbending are not only long-time staples of Japanese anime and manga, but also of TV and celebrity culture. From this, anyone would think that Japan was one of the most open and accepting countries when it comes to people who don’t fit into traditional gender roles or relationships.

That is probably because the trannys on TV are some of the most annoying people you can find. It's even worse when they have them discussing serious stuff in the news while they are dressed like an idiot.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

On those hot humid Tokyo days when it is closing in on 40C I've often thought how much more comfortable I would be in women's clothing, rather than the outfit I am expected to wear, and if it was suddenly acceptable I would do so. In the summer anyway. And "female" type clothing is worn by men in many Asian and Pacific countries because of the heat.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

They shall not rest until they have corrupted the human social norm that was in place for centuries in every part of the globe.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

"It’s also fun for girls to dress them up like a doll, putting makeup on them and choosing clothes for them."

Yeah, but they won't want to marry them. But what kind of man wants that? What's happened to testosterone levels?

"According to Naoko, “there are three times in a man’s life when he might awaken to the fact that he enjoys women’s clothing. First is puberty, the next is in his 30s/40s, and finally in his 60s after retirement."

Crazy.

"At times when the role expected of a man in society and the household changes, they can experience a ‘gender crisis.’”

So man up! Don't succumb to the crisis!

"Unfortunately, due to societal pressure to conform, many men will keep it to themselves, " Please do. Better still stop it.

The world is going crazy. Men need to be men. Stop wearing dresses, and stop wanting to kiss other men and marry them etc etc. Makes me sick. Maybe they should all go and live on Senkaku Island and wear dresses and marry each other.

I know I'll get a million dislikes, but I'm sure there's at least one male out there who agrees. If not, who cares. I'm okay with being the last man standing. Which is the whole damn point. Everyone's too scared to have a normal opinion these days. The whole world has entered the twilight zone.

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

But what kind of man wants that? What's happened to testosterone levels?

Who is less a man? The one who dresses up in girly clothes for fun? Or the one who is terrified of the thought? If you want to have a boring private life, that's your business. If others want to spice things up, that's theirs. And this has nothing to do with homosexuality, except maybe in some uninformed people's minds. Lot's of straight guys do this behind closed doors. Ironically, they are often alpha male masculine types in their everyday life. It's provides a sense of relief from the demands of being a man.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

"Ironically, they are often alpha male masculine types in their everyday life."

Maybe they are pretending to be alpha types in their public life. But neither I or my dad or any normal alpha male masculine types I know would want to wear a bra, panties and a dress, and put on lipstick and nail polish.

Unless they lost a bet, or did if for fun. But just to sit at home and watch Disney movies?

Nah. Normal men don't do that. By definition, they are not normal.

You may as well say that completely sane people like to pretend they are pigs and run around oinking and eating corn off the floor. Maybe they can function in society when people aren't looking, but don't call them normal.

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

That is probably because the trannys on TV are some of the most annoying people you can find.

I find intolerant people more annoying.

Men need to be men.

The manliest of men that I know are true gentlemen who are, quite fortunately, very tolerant of others. Intolerance itself hints at weakness.

(Apologies to you ladies who would walk all over "men" if you could be bothered to do so)

2 ( +11 / -9 )

ReformedBasher - Probie merely stated he found TV trannies annoying. I didn't read where he suggested they be forbidden from wearing dresses. The manliest of men that I know don't jump to conclusions or put words in other people's mouths...

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@Peacetrain

What do you think "normal" means? The same as everyone else?

In that case none of us can ever be "normal", because we're all unique individuals.

If a bloke wants to dress up in a bra and knickers, good luck to him, what the heck does it have to do with me, you or anyone else?

7 ( +11 / -4 )

@Peacetrain,

I 100% agree with you. In JT we may be a minority but we are many out there.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

But this is sending out the wrong message to people - all thanks to the Japanese media, of course. The "crossdresser" types on TV aren't actually part of the LGBT community. They do it purely to "have an image" on TV and milk it for as long as they can. Rather than talk about the issue seriously, they're constantly seen in a comical light.

This will never change and we all know it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@ReformedBasher

That is probably because the trannys on TV are some of the most annoying people you can find.

I find intolerant people more annoying.

People who go on about people be "intolerant" are hypocrites. Shouldn't you be tolerant of other peoples thoughts too?

My point was that it's hard to take whatever it is they are saying because they look ridiculous most of the time. Also, they seem to almost exclusively all have the same personality- a straight-talker who craves attention by saying things that are "rude/up front/blunt" (I guess, if you compare them to the usual bland "talent").

I don't care how salient your points are, if you are a man sat there making them dressed as a woman, they aren't going to have the same power. Because you look stupid.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

How other people dress is of no interest to me and, therefore, there is nothing to discuss.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I'm wearing girls shorts right now cuz it's impossible to find any men's shorts well above the knees. I can't wait for the day when those knee level shorts go out of style. They look so dumb.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Ok, how ignorant. Wanting to wear a dress has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with whether you prefer men or women. That's not how sexuality works. Seriously, if you put on a dress, do you automatically like men? Are you asexual until you put clothes on in the morning?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

People can be complex. I'm sure many cross-dressers would say they are not struggling at all. They are happy with who they, and not confused about their sexuality. I really don't know why people get all worked up about this, unless they have issues themselves. They are not demanding that they be allowed to wear their dresses to their bank job, or use women's toilets. What's the problem, exactly?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What I herd on TV this morning was that a Japanese man said he thinks wearing a bra and knickers makes him calm and collected, and function more in society. When he puts on these women things he changes from the snobby nob to a calm and collected person. This is what I find strange, it’s going back to the people who want to wear masks 24/7 because they don’t want to show their faces!

A bra and knickers being worn by a man does not make you change from an everyday man on the trains to a calm and collected normal person. Anger management might help with that one.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

How unfortunate for the women whose husbands suddenly turn into otoko no ko!

I doubt that is a turn on for most women and if your beloved husband all of a sudden pretends he is a woman, wow, not that would put a strain on the marriage!

My wife would never stand for it.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Wear what you like as long as the bits that should be covered are covered. Macho types wearing vests ( wear a t-shirt, tosser ), young men in ridiculously tight suit trousers with bits bulging out or low-slung pants with the crack of the arse showing are far more objectionable to me.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I don't understand what's so wrong about this if the other partner is ok with their man crossdressing then what is the problem. In the end the term normal is just a statement of what society at the present time believes should do, have, or be. Just let people live and let live.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan slowly begins to openly discuss crossdressing men in heterosexual relationships

A wonderful headline that is only in danger of taking itself a little too seriously. It is also nonsense, unfortunately.

Cross dressing is actually a bit weird, although Westerners have been trained to tell ourselves that it is perfectly "normal" if someone chooses to do so. After all, what is odd about women wearing trousers or a Scotsman in a kilt etc etc.

If actually think about it for a moment, if that person is not transgendered, but is happy being a man (and a heterosexual one to boot), what is going on that makes him want to wear women's clothing? It is obviously not normal to feel comfortable in the clothes of the other sex and there is a psycological issue to address somewhere.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Lucabrasi

"If a bloke wants to dress up in a bra and knickers, good luck to him, what the heck does it have to do with me, you or anyone else?"

He can do what he wants. He can watch TV standing on his head, in a pink tutu, and sing Let it go, let it go" replacing the words with oink oinks and smear his stomach with peanut butter and it'S got not the heck anything to do with me. Fine. But just don't try to tell us all that it's normal.

And I have the right to say, I think he's weird. Shoot me.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

It is obviously not normal to feel comfortable in the clothes of the other sex and there is a psycological issue to address somewhere.

Are you saying that anything you do sexually that deviates from "normal" indicates a psychological problem? In other words, only people with very predictable sex lives are psychologically healthy? I've lost you.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Why do we have to discuss everything?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

relationships where the man steps outside of traditional images of masculinity.

Well, that's interesting, but, for the sake of discussion, is it an alternate version of masculinity they are stepping into, or a superficial and inaccurate version of femininity? Meanwhile, I think it would be an unusual woman who wants to deal with this much complexity in a relationship.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Peacetrain

When something has nothing to do with me, I don't take the time and effort to come on JT and tell everyone it's abnormal.

And what exactly is desirable about "normal"? It was normal to hang child pickpockets in 17th century England.

Still, I usually like your posts, so I'm not going to take up your offer to shoot you.... ; )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why do we have to discuss everything?

Yep, tastes and colors... The only question is where they can find their size. It's particularly tough to find feminine shoes for long feet in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wow, a lot of fear here.

Once, waiting for a girlfriend at a beachside hairdresser's in Oz, I had my nails trimmed and buffed at the nail bar in the shop window.

The stares I got from passersby were something else, perhaps because I was wearing a sarong as well. Was my masculinity threatened? Not a bit, but my nether regions were a lot more comfortable than they would have been in shorts, and my girlfriend loved the manicure, too.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Lots of weird stuff going on especially in this country, real men do not want to dress up as woman normally and those idiots on TV are sickening. Lots of things are acceptable in this country that would be ridiculed in other places, you only have to look at the child port situation.

If you were known to be dressing up like woman in most other countries with right mind folk you would be ridiculed and ostracised or told to go see a shrink. Most aussie or kiwi guys would not want to be openly associated with a cross dresser, or not the ones I know anyway.

Alpha males don't do this and if males who you think are alpha are doing this then they are not alpha by very definition of it.

I definitely think there is some sort of media agenda to promote the gay and TV lifestyle in a lot of places at the moment and it seems to be over emphasised here in Japan.

Real normal blokes are real blokes and normally don't dress up as woman unless there is some underlying issues going on.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Are you saying that anything you do sexually that deviates from "normal" indicates a psychological problem? In other words, only people with very predictable sex lives are psychologically healthy? I've lost you.

I can almost see you doing that little thing with your fingers as you write the inverted commas around "normal". I never stated that this was about sexual tastes. Gender identity disorder, particularly where it does not involve a desire to actualy become a member of the other sex (i.e. transvesticism), is a recognised psychological disorder. Hardly surprising - it si weird.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

We would have lost the war if Churchill gave those same speeches wearing a wig and lipstick and bikinis, and the boys storming Normandy were checking their nails while climbing the cliffs.

Come on, this is all getting ridiculous. People want to be able to do any damn stupid thing but at the same time can't bear anyone saying it's weird.

So, be completely as weird as you like. Run for President in a skirt. Hillary can put on a gorilla suit and pink sunglasses. It's all cool. But if someone dares to say you look weird and not normal, stop with the crying.

WE still need to have some kids who dare to say "But the emperor HAS no clothes."

2 ( +8 / -6 )

As for me I will continue wearing shorts and t-shirts to feel comfortable and admire a well dressed WOMAN.

Too many are afraid to tell the emperor he has NO clothes. I think they call it progressivism or political correctness or something like that. Scary where it could lead to.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

omg japan... Peacetrain THANK GOD! LOL you're one real man for sure lolol Churchill in a wig and lipstick and bikinis xD nice.

seriously i like my man to BE A MAN and act like one. you start going girl on me... goodbye lolol

i actually dumped my ex bf cause he was wayyy too girly. wondered if he was gay lolol wearing facial cream mask, weird anti wrinkle stuff lol and women perfume etc

i'm sorry but i if i wanted someone like that, i'd rather go look for a female lol not some male cross dresser

100% agreeing with Peacetrain here

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@LH10

Real feminine women like real masculine men. I doubt any normal woman would like her man to just behave like her. As you said it perfectly if a woman wants a feminine guy , why not just get yourself the original, a woman.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Glad to read LH10's comment. The issue is overblown and I would think most men an women agree with her. As for the "power couple", I suppose it wasn't his nail polishing that made them split but his lack of "power in the sack".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan slowly begins to openly discuss crossdressing men in heterosexual relationships

Hey, if that gets your rocks off more power to you.

In my book you can do whatever you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I can almost see you doing that little thing with your fingers as you write the inverted commas around "normal". I never stated that this was about sexual tastes. Gender identity disorder, particularly where it does not involve a desire to actualy become a member of the other sex (i.e. transvesticism), is a recognised psychological disorder.

What is that little thing with my fingers that you can "almost see?" You've lost me again, though I am happy for you. You have a very vivid imagination - I hope that's not cause for worry. Pretty much everything is called a psychological disorder these days - boy acting like boys, for example, or men having affairs outside marriage. It helps to sell stuff, like Ritalin, psychiatric services, and the lot.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One can see the feminine side of Echoes front man Tsuji HItonari here http://www.sayuki.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/story2010.pdf And pre transformation Tsuji HItonari, as well as his most famous song, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdWAZuPkgp4

Simone De Beauvoir, argued that Western culture encourages "mankind" to think of themselves upon a male model. I think that Japan tends to encourage the reverse, the woman as the model of all 'watashi' (originally a female first person pronoun now used by men and women). It is not a surprise to me therefore that Japanese men find themselves to be more calm and collected when they are wearing a bra. They are acting out the role that their culture is enforcing upon them, and likely to feel therefore more at one with societal expectations.

I think that the reverse tendency, for women to cloak themselves (or perhaps their manner of narration) masculine may exist in the West, due to the pressure for people to be independent, rational, choice makers. The famous social psychologists, Hazel Markus, who attacks the universality of independent rational choice, wrote her opus about the Japanese "interdependent self" (Culture Emotion and the Self) originally about women. In that form it was unpopular, so she teamed up with Shinobu Kitayama, and republished the same research about the Japanese and it was a major hit.

Japanese women are more happy with their femininity, and as above, would be more likely to be called "not normal" (!!?) if they were to abnegate it. Do you remember the furore when AKB members passed a Puccho from mouth to mouth? Female-to-male cross dressing, or anything that smacks of lesbianism is generally considered abnormal or worse. Here is the controversial (not) AKB video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwoeqUqPXJg

The article above is not news. The Japanese have dressed as women (e.g. Onna kata) since time immemorial but more surprising is the fact that, at looong last, "Boyish" has become fashionable in Japan http://tinyurl.com/plfc9ma albeit in a very cute form.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What is that little thing with my fingers that you can "almost see?" You've lost me again, though I am happy for you. You have a very vivid imagination - I hope that's not cause for worry. Pretty much everything is called a psychological disorder these days - boy acting like boys, for example, or men having affairs outside marriage. It helps to sell stuff, like Ritalin, psychiatric services, and the lot.

You are pretty easy to lose so I will keep it simple! A grown adult male choosing to wear female clothes on a regular basis, is odd. It is not a case of "Hey, you choose to wear a hat, I will choose to wear female clothes - it's all the same, get over it. My choice and hey, what is "normal" anyway?" etc etc.

It is a disorder because it is symptomatic of a deep unease and confusion about oneself. It is not some quasi made-up disorder like ADHD (which I think you are referring to above).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A grown adult male choosing to wear female clothes on a regular basis, is odd.

So what if it is?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan slowly begins to openly discuss crossdressing men in heterosexual relationships

No it doesn't.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Ah_so

A grown adult male choosing to wear female clothes on a regular basis, is odd. It is not a case of "Hey, you choose to wear a hat, I will choose to wear female clothes - it's all the same, get over it. My choice and hey, what is "normal" anyway?" etc etc. It is a disorder because it is symptomatic of a deep unease and confusion about oneself. It is not some quasi made-up disorder like ADHD

How about a grown adult female choosing to wear pants suits, rather than skirts, on a regular basis? Is that "normal" or does it show a deep unease and confusion? http://z.about.com/d/dc/1/0/T/T/HillaryClinton.JPG

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Let me help you out, Ah So. "Gender Identity disorder can be distinguished from simple noncomformity to stereo-typical sex role behavior by the extent and pervasiveness of the cross-gender wishes, interests, and activities."

In other words, an adult male choosing to wear women's clothes is not, in itself, considered a disorder. It's simply a behavior, one of the many that human beings have. If you went to any psychiatrist and said, "Doc, I like to wear women's clothes for fun, usually in the privacy of my home. And I'm perfectly happy. Can you help me?" The doctor would ask, "What's the problem?" The confusion and other issues are something that you seem to be reading into it yourself. You do seem rather concerned with the issue.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I see these "gals" in Tokyo from time to time. The protruding Adam's apple and muscular calves give them away, but to each his (her?) own.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Andrea or Andre? two different names one person!! Very confusing ehhh!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder why some men think that they have some sort of right to tell other men how to live and act and dress. It is none of my business what another man decides to do in his life and it is perfectly okay if it is different than how I would do it.Nature does not make any duplicates not eve n the case of twins each will still have a separate experience and some differences. It is the idea that we all need to fit in that is unnatural. Many a man trying to be what he was taught a man should be will end up feeling his life is a failure because he could not become what he was not naturally.

By the way kilts give you a comfortable way to dress without dressing in dresses.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If i recall correctly, the sexologist Alfred Kinsey found that the vast majority of cross-dressing men are heterosexual. Well, that is no surprise since the vast majority of men are heterosexual.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What Peacetrain and Ah_so keep willfully misunderstanding here is that these men have no need for their conception of the word "normal." They cross-dress because it makes them feel good, they're comfortable with that, and who cares what anyone else thinks? And just because you can't imagine something doesn't mean it can't possibly be true for others.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Would "she" be offended if I practiced some pick-up on "her"?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's true, most men like to wear trousers, but what the majority does doesn't have to be called "normal", it's just most common. "Normal" implies the rest is abnormal. If most people in the US prefer beef it doesn't mean eating fish is abnormal, if most people are Christian in the US it doesn't mean being a Muslim etc is abnormal. Most common does not equal normal

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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