On March 12th, Tomoya Hosoda, 25, became the first openly transgender man to be elected in Iruma City, in the central region around Tokyo.
Mr. Hosoda is the second transgender councilor in Japan. In 2003, Aya Kamikawa, a councilor at Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, became the first transgender councillor in Japan. There are four councillors from the LGBTQ community. Aya Kamikawa at Setagaya Ward(a transgender woman), Wataru Ishizaka at Nakano Ward(a gay man), Taiga Ishikawa at Toshima Ward(a gay man), and Mr.Hosoda in Iruma City. (An openly lesbian councillor, Kanako Otsuji, was elected in the past, so, in total, there are five LGBTQ councillors in the history of Japan.)
Mr. Hosoda became a councillor in Iruma City after winning 21 out of 22 seats. “I was close to losing. I still can’t believe that I actually won.” Mr. Hosoda expressed his joy and excitement. At his campaign office, he was happily surrounded by his supporters.(He was elected at the young age of 25. It’s outstanding. Congratulations!)
Mr. Hosoda said he always had the feeling that something was wrong with his female body for as long as he could remember. He could not express himself freely when he was with his female friends. He was diagnosed with gender identity disorder at the age of 20. He was a student at Teikyo University at that time. He came out to his mother and he had a sex- change operation in April, 2015. In June of that year, he changed his gender in the family registry to officially become a man. It was Aya Kamikawa and other support groups that made sex-change in the family registry legal in Japan. Fourteen years later, someone like Mr.Hosoda showed up. That’s amazing indeed.
Two years ago, Mr. Hosoda joined “OUT IN JAPAN,” held by a famous photographer, Leslie Kee. In that event, Leslie Kee took pictures of a thousand LGBTQ people for LGBTQ visibility in Japan.
“I always thought I would never be happy. But now I know people like me can live with a smile.” Mr. Hosoda left a message in the event. He said he saw many transgender men happily enjoying their lives when he joined the event and that experience gave him hope and courage to openly come out.
Mr. Hosoda strongly appealed to public opinion about the importance of establishing systems that allow LGBTQ people to have access to consultation services when needed. He also explained that he will be working for the elderly and the disabled.
During the election, he said he received many e-mails from LGBTQ people. Some of them are worried about their sexuality; others are grateful to him.
“I want to make this Iruma City a city that embraces diversity. Until recently, sexual and gender minorities have been treated as if they do not exist. There are so many hurdles to overcome, but I would like to make effort to live up to everyone’s expectations,” he said.