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The nineteenth issue of the CGS Newsletter is now available both in print and online. Click the URL to download the PDF version.
CGS Newsletter 019 (PDF, 2.4MB)

We have been issuing Newsletter since the time center opened in 2004 to promote our activities as well as to offer a platform for those involved to express their views and opinions. Now, we feel the initial purposes of Newsletter have been achieved, and in consideration of environmentally friendly ways, we decided to discontinue the issuing of Newsletter. We all immensely appreciate your support for such a long time. From next academic year, we will advertise and promote our activities through SNS and website. We are looking forward to meeting you there, and at the center. Thank you for your understanding.

Contents of the CGS Newsletter 019

Natsumi IKOMA
CGS Director

[The article below is the same as the article that appears in the nineteenth issue of the CGS Newsletter.]

I must confess I'm feeling rather dejected about this topic. As hate speech and hate crimes continue to spread throughout both Japan and the world, I feel the dogmatism and rising emphasis on outcomes even at ICU. Brandishing dogma - ignoring the fact that the establishment and principles themselves exclude minorities and women - is contrary to the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that ICU holds so dear. It is becoming increasingly difficult to voice one's protest within the establishment. In the background to all this, I glimpse the lurking shadows of misogyny, minority discrimination, and neoliberal greed.

So what can CGS do to change this? Considering the hate speech attacking gender and sexuality in the wider community, our biggest priority has been to push for improvements to help create a safer and more supportive campus for students. When students have rushed to our center for help, we have always tried our best to provide empathy, support, and even solutions where possible. Nevertheless, two issues in particular have highlighted to me the hurdles we have yet to overcome.

Firstly, various international students have pointed out the low level of awareness of gender and human rights issues at ICU. A number of students have referred to a certain university activity that prevails under the guise of tradition, despite the fact that it is discriminatory in terms of race, minorities, and gender. It is allowed to continue uncriticized and students feel compelled to participate. Even though this event clearly flies in the face of ICU's focus on internationalism and human rights, the students stated that they weren't even able to criticize or speak out against this discrimination on campus. Other students have told me that they felt their harassment complaints were not taken seriously by the university administration and were deeply hurt by their experience. Such problems have made me painfully aware that despite the efforts at CGS so far, we still need to push harder to raise the awareness of all the faculty and staff on campus. We also need to find ways to make it easier for international students to get involved in CGS's activities.

Secondly, a new dormitory with a gender-neutral floor is currently under construction at ICU, which the media have referred to as the "LGBT Dorm." I have been observing such media reports with mounting concern, as I know that the campus itself is not LGBT friendly. Most importantly, the university needs to consider the perspectives of minorities in establishing the dormitory's regulations, such as making it compulsory for all students to attend a course on gender, sexuality, and human rights before moving into the dormitory. Strengthening human rights on campus should be a far more pressing and vital concern than simply building new facilities.

It has been 12 years since the founding of CGS, but we still have a lot of work to do. ICU still does not have a childcare facility or an office to promote diversity. Even so, we cannot just give up in despair. Who would be left to push for change? We have managed to achieve some things, however small, and more and more students are becoming interested in gender and sexuality issues. Thus we remain firm in our resolve to continue our efforts at CGS, in the belief that progress, however slow, is always possible as long as we work together.

Compiler: Yuji KATO
[The article below is the same as the article that appears in the nineteenth issue of the CGS Newsletter.]

What kind of support services should ICU provide to parents and caregivers? CGS organized a round-table discussion for students, faculty, and staff to share their ideas on this issue. Excerpts from their discussion are presented below.

Participants (in alphabetical order, without titles): Juliana BURITICÁ (ICU PhD student), Junko HIBIYA (ICU President), Natsumi IKOMA (CGS Director), Yuji KATO (CGS staff member), Miho MATSUZAKI (CGS research institute assistant), Kana TAKAMATSU (CGS steering committee member).

Support for Student Parents and Caregivers

Hibiya: In 2000, ICU changed its leave of absence fee, which was 1/3 of the tuition fee, to an enrolment fee of just 30,000 yen per term. One reason for this change was our concern for students who take a leave of absence for medical reasons. They tend to return too soon, causing their illness to flare up again, and are then forced to drop out altogether. We also considered study abroad cases that didn't fit into the exchange student category. I think we have managed to make it easier for students to continue their studies or research and take a leave of absence if they need to, whether it be for childcare, nursing care, or other reasons. With regard to childcare, the University is planning to build a childcare center on campus eventually. But how about students with caring responsibilities, such as those caring for elderly relatives or other dependents who have an illness or disability? What kind of support could we provide for them?

Matsuzaki: In addition to promoting understanding on the campus as a whole, we need to foster an environment where students feel more comfortable discussing these issues and asking for advice. Students with caring responsibilities tend to be overlooked, and they often don't talk about their problems because they find it too hard to explain. At first it might just mean missing a class or two, but as their dependent's illness progresses, the student caregiver's burden grows heavier until they are forced to give up attending class altogether. Even if caring responsibilities can be balanced with studies at university, it is harder to balance them with work. Students with caring responsibilities need to deal with tuition fees and juggle course schedules, and they need help thinking about their careers after graduation. Students who end up not talking to anyone about their caring responsibilities often don't get any careers guidance either. Even if ICU can't provide any direct assistance, it would be good if the University could at least refer such students to other support services off campus.

Hibiya: Yes, we should deal with the issue of careers guidance immediately. We must raise awareness and understanding within the University concerning the reality of students in these situations.

Ikoma: Even being able to talk to someone who understands can be helpful. But our campus doesn't even facilitate that kind of support yet. We have the same problem when it comes to pregnancy and childbirthstudents feel isolated because of the University's lack of understanding.

CGS staff member
[The article below is the same as the article that appears in the nineteenth issue of the CGS Newsletter.]

Violets (sumire in Japanese), in the language of flowers, mean sincerity and everyday happiness, and the color purple is used worldwide in campaigns to end violence against women. Drawing on this symbolism, the Sumire Project (since 2016, Sumire Network) was launched in 2015 with the aim of raising awareness on dating violence and other forms of relationship abuse. The project is a joint collaboration by CGS and undergraduate students of ICU. CGS staff member Yuji Kato, who managed the Sumire Project, provides an outline of its activities below. Next, the student who inspired the project, writing under the pseudonym "Penko," shares her personal experiences and thoughts.

In April 2005, a fourth-year ICU student came to CGS upon referral by a staff member. The student, who is known by the pseudonym "Penko," told us she wanted to do something to help others who had experienced dating violence like herself and to reduce the incidence of dating violence on campus. Penko and I, along with another student whom I shall call "Chun" here, started exploring potential strategies to make this happen.

Our first initiative was to create an informative bilingual pamphlet, titled "Is Dating Violence Really Someone Else's Problem?", which we distributed to all first- and second-year students. The pamphlet, which opens out to A3 size, is designed to arouse awareness on dating violence. One side is filled with facts and figures for young people as well as personal reflections by Penko and Chun. The other side provides a contact list of helpful resources on and off campus. Although I supervised the design and editing, and made sure that it would consider the fact that victims of dating violence are not necessarily all women, I left the research, analysis, and writing to Penko and Chun. We followed the example of the Living Together Campaign in Tokyo, which collects anonymous personal stories about HIV because people find it difficult to come out as HIV positive. I also made good use of my experience in helping to create an HIV brochure for school nurses, as part of a collaborative project last year by CGS, the non-profit organization "akta," and Tama Fuchu Health Center.

Our second initiative was to organize a lecture, "Do You Know About Dating Violence?: The Modalities of Student-Led Activities for Raising Awareness." The guest lecture, by Assistant Professor Chika Hyodo from The Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center at Waseda University, was followed by a presentation by her fourth-year student, Shuhei Yuyama. Shuhei's report on the results of his action research on male victims of dating violence led to an in-depth discussion of victim diversity and the potentials of student activism.

Finally, we organized an event called the Sumire Café, as Penko had expressed a strong desire to create a space for students to discuss these issues. The event, which was held at CGS, attracted 10 participants. We laid down some ground rules for everyone to follow. I was particularly impressed by Penko's brilliant facilitation skills, especially considering that when we first started the Sumire Project, it was not unusual for Penko to suddenly burst into tears during a meeting. But after seeking support from a non-profit organization off campus, speaking out about her experience to friends on campus, and even providing support to others, Penko seemed to have grown more confident in the fall term, talking more freely about dating violence and crying no more. By winter, when we had finished with the Sumire Café, I could see that Penko was listening seriously to what others were saying and choosing words with care when discussing her own experience or knowledge. For example, she avoided talking in terms of "victim" and "abuser," and instead chose to say that she had experienced dating violence in a past relationship. This reflects her mentality as a survivor, as someone who has overcome adversity by having the courage to face the truth and be honest with herself. Even though I was merely accompanying Penko on her journey, playing but a small part in this project, I was close enough to feel the painful reality of dating violence.

Looking back, I feel that the Sumire Project has developed in line with Penko's own journey of healing and empowerment. Continuing it without her will be like starting a new project altogether. What remains certain, nonetheless, is the imperative to work toward making our campus a safer place, a place where violets can continue to bloom.

ICU graduate (2016)
[The article below is the same as the article that appears in the nineteenth issue of the CGS Newsletter.]

Violets (sumire in Japanese), in the language of flowers, mean sincerity and everyday happiness, and the color purple is used worldwide in campaigns to end violence against women. Drawing on this symbolism, the Sumire Project (since 2016, Sumire Network) was launched in 2015 with the aim of raising awareness on dating violence and other forms of relationship abuse. The project is a joint collaboration by CGS and undergraduate students of ICU. CGS staff member Yuji Kato, who managed the Sumire Project, provides an outline of its activities below. Next, the student who inspired the project, writing under the pseudonym "Penko," shares her personal experiences and thoughts.

I was only a few months into my first year at ICU when I started dating a fellow freshman. He seemed kind and generous, buying me lunch and dinner, and always making time for us to be together. Over time, however, I began to realize that he had problems controlling his anger and managing his stress. Gradually, his anger, which he had initially directed toward his surroundings, came to focus on me. As violence and abuse became a part of my daily reality, I developed a twisted logic, telling myself, "It's my fault for always making him so mad," and "But I'm the only one who can truly understand and accept him for who he is." It was only on a trip home when my mother pointed out how pale I looked that I finally realized I was a victim of dating violence.

Even after we broke up, I suffered from post-traumatic stress. I'd have flashbacks whenever I passed by a spot where I'd been abused; I'd wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of my own screams; and, if I happened to see him or anyone who looked like him on campus, I'd start hyperventilating, unable to think about anything else. I knew I had to do something about it, so I started learning more about dating violence at a non-profit organization that a friend had told me about. That was how I started to deal with what had happened.

After a year had passed, feeling vulnerable and alone while coping with all the whispers around campus ("Did you know those two broke up 'cos he went crazy and treated her like dirt?"), I decided to share my story on social media. This generated a great deal of feedback and discussion, and made me realise the importance of addressing the problem of dating violence and the impact of disseminating information.

Through my work with other like-minded friends on the Sumire Project - organizing the Sumire Café, designing and handing out the dating violence pamphlet - I've realised that if you can't accept and care about yourself, how are you supposed to care about others? Even if you can't help feeling bad about yourself right now, don't try to hide or run away from it. It's important to be honest with yourself. Moreover, I know now that there's no "us" and "them." It's not just "crazy people" who resort to violence. We all have the potential to become abusive. We all have a psychotic beast within, which we strive to tame day by day.The people around me only saw me, "the victim," but not all people are violent by choice. I strongly felt that we need to pay attention to those who fail to tame their hidden beast. Looking back, I understand now that my ex-boyfriend and I did not have a relationship of mutual understanding in which we could be open and honest with each other. If we had, I wonder if I might have become more aware of the sadness and suffering hidden beneath his violence.

The past four years for me have been filled with questions about what love and relationships are all about. On the eve of my graduation, it has finally dawned on me that, to put it quite simply, the key is to be honest with oneself and with others. Of course I sometimes feel like half of my college life went to waste, but I know that's what has made me the person I am today, even though I do find it hard to remember that sometimes.

No one can deny that dating violence has occurred and continues to occur at ICU. When I was handing out pamphlets around campus, I'd hear people saying stuff like, "But I'd never do anything like that," or "I don't even have a boyfriend to start with." I remember when dating violence was discussed in my first-year Health Education course, I also thought it was someone else's problem. But then it happened to me. And from what I hear, it's still happening to others. It's a problem that touches us all.

In fact, we live in a web of human relationships, with friends, family, and so on. That's why the Sumire Project is not just about dating violence or romantic relationships - rather, its mission is to communicate the importance of building healthy relationships. I'm graduating this year, but I hope our work will be carried on by other students. Please contact CGS if you are interested in getting involved.

ICU undergraduate student
[The article below is the same as the article that appears in the nineteenth issue of the CGS Newsletter.]

On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Ryoko Kobayashi, who heads the Tokyo branch of the non-profit organization LGBT Families and Friends Association, gave a guest lecture as part of ICU's R-Weeks (May 31- June 11, 2016). We asked Eisuke Matsuda, the event coordinator and moderator, to share his thoughts on the lecture, which was titled,"Wel-coming Out!! How Family and Friends Can Help."

I organized a lecture on the theme of "coming out to family," as part of this year's R-Weeks at ICU. The speaker I invited was Ryoko Kobayashi, who has a transgender (FtM) son herself and works with a group that supports LGBT people and their families and friends. The reason why I chose the title "Wel-coming Out" was that I wanted to get people to think about how they could approach coming out in a more welcoming manner, with open arms, including those who are hesitating to come out, as well as those who are unsure about how to respond to someone else's coming out.

I was moved to tears as I listened to Ms. Kobayashi's own personal story and those of others she'd met through her organization. One person was told they were unstable and forced to go to a psychiatrist, another was grounded and made to change schools, and another was treated as though they were dead. Some were told by their parents, "I should've had an abortion," or "Just die, I'm begging you." Hearing such struggles for survival, it hit me that I'd treated the idea of coming out much too casually, supposing that it would eventually work out somehow.

Coming out does not necessarily always result in a positive outcome. Ms. Kobayashi, therefore, said that she always asks someone who is thinking about it, "Do you usually find it easy to communicate with the person/people you're planning to come out to?" It's a question that should be considered with care. For example, coming out has resulted in financial difficulties for some university students who didn't have a good relationship with their parents in the first place. Their parents withdrew their financial support, which had a huge impact on the students' daily lives and future aspirations. For many parents as well, their child's coming out has resulted in a sense of social alienation and isolation for which they blame themselves and their child. relationship based on mutual respect. Actually, someone very dear to me is currently agonizing over whether to tell their parents about their sexual orientation. It makes me so sad to see this person I admire so much in deep agony over the fact that they can't communicate what they want. So organizing this lecture was one of my ways to support this person, even if it may only be with a view toward coming out some day in the future when they are ready.

What I realized from the lecture, however, is that sometimes coming out may not be the best option, for unfortunately in the society we live in today it would just make life too difficult. Even so, I don't want to actually say outright, "It's best not to do it now." I would rather just suggest that they think about the relationships in their life. To others, I would like to suggest that they can make a big difference by simply showing they are open about these issues by, for instance, mentioning an event like this in their daily conversation. Coming out is not something that only certain people need to think about. It's something that affects every one of us. My goal in organizing this event was to provide an opportunity for the university as a whole to consider these issues. In the spirit of the following quotation from the mother of a lesbian daughter, which Ms. Kobayashi read at the end of the lecture, I hope that one day we will all learn to accept others for who they are:

... My daughter is like one of those four leaf clovers; her sexual orientation just happens to be different from mine. She is someone I treasure and want to protect. A four leaf clover is not unnatural, just unusual and different from the rest. I would have never considered removing one of the leaves so it would appear to be a three leaf clover.
PFLAG, Our Daughters and Sons (Washington, DC: PFLAG, 1995), 8,

PhD student, Department of Sociology, University of Washington; ICU graduate (2013)
[The article below is the same as the article that appears in the nineteenth issue of the CGS Newsletter.]

Although most empirical studies on sexual and gender minorities have tended to use qualitative research methods, recent years have seen an increase in the number of quantitative studies, including research by community organizations, academic research by scholars, and marketing surveys by advertising agencies. We asked Daiki Hiramori, who recently worked on a quantitative study by CGS and the non-profit organization Nijiiro Diversity, to share his thoughts on the significance of quantitative research and the interpretation of statistical data on gender and sexuality.

Nijiiro Diversity started the Survey on LGBT Issues in the Workplace Environment in 2013 in response to requests from both the private and public sectors for statistical data on the challenges and needs of sexual and gender minorities in order to help them develop LGBT-supportive policies. Quantitative methods are useful for revealing the structure and patterns of inequality in gender and sexuality by means of actual numbers. Statistical data is essential, along with qualitative data, in compiling evidence to combat the prevailing discrimination against sexual and gender minorities in Japanese society today.

Quantitative data and analysis tend to be regarded as "unbiased" and "objective," and consequently used to inform public policy. Only statistical analysis, however, is truly unbiased (i.e. the results of a chisquared test will always be the same no matter who conducts it). In reality, the significance of conducting quantitative research lies in the ability of a third party to verify the validity of the analytical process. This is because the researcher's subjectivity can be discerned quite easily in, for example, the selection of study participants, the wording of questions in a survey, and the choice of analytical methods used.

Such a view contradicts the criticisms of some feminist and queer researchers, who argue that quantitative approaches purport to be unbiased and able to elicit objective knowledge. Indeed, quantitative researchers themselves are perhaps most conscious of the fact that numbers do lie because they are constantly having to make subjective decisions in the process of quantitative analysis.

Of course, we do need to pay serious attention to insightful feminist and queer critiques of quantitative methods. For example, quantitative researchers need to be more conscious of how their approach itself is based on a presupposed gender binary and heteronormativity, reflecting the structural discrimination in the broader society. We also have a tendency to reify categories of gender and sexuality and regard them only in terms of variables, often ignoring the differences within those categories. At the same time, however, the potential applications of quantitative research methods should also be considered by queer and feminist researchers.

So how should we read all the statistical data on sexual and gender minorities, which has increasingly been generated in recent years? In my opinion, it is important to develop statistical literacy in quantitative research in general. When we see statistics in newspapers, on TV, or on the Internet, we need to consider the study results more critically, asking questions such as: Who conducted the study and for what reason? Are the response options for the questions appropriate? Is their interpretation of the study results valid? As we continue to accrue more statistical data on sexual and gender minorities in future research, it is vital that details of studies and their data (excluding personally identifiable information) be made publicly available where possible so that they can be verified by anyone who wishes to do so.

CGS staff member
[The article below is the same as the article that appears in the nineteenth issue of the CGS Newsletter.]

CGS published the first two volumes of the Gender, Sexuality, and Campus Life series this year - ICU Possibilities Guide in April and 108 Things You Can Do at University in September. We asked the author and editor, Yuji Kato, to discuss what led to the creation of this series.

CGS received 85 requests for assistance from off-campus sources in 2015, and 38 this year just in the Spring term alone. Many of the requests were questions relating to how to deal with students who have gender identity disorder or how to support LGBT students. Indeed, ICU is often regarded by the media and other universities as a pioneering LGBTfriendly university.

In responding to these requests, I did feel a sense of empowerment, learning that there were such conscientious faculty and staff members at other universities. More often than not, however, I was also exhausted. This was not just because the lack of staff at CGS meant I had to respond to many of these queries on my own, but also because it was so psychologically draining to repeatedly point out that ICU is not that progressive. ICU has been a pioneer among Japanese universities in some ways, as seen in changes to its system since 2003, allowing transgender students to change their name and gender on their school records, as well as in its establishment of an interdisciplinary program in gender and sexuality studies. Yet, in reality, ICU has a long way to go before we could call it truly LGBT-friendly. For starters, the university application form still requires prospective students to declare their gender identity (with the options being only male or female). Moreover, graduation gowns are differentiated so that female students must have collars and male students don't have collars (although in response to repeated demands, this rule was finally abolished from the March 2016 graduation ceremony). Thus from matriculation to graduation, the university system is built on gender discrimination and the premise of heterosexism. ICU is simply giving minorities "special treatment" within this rigid system, which in essence cannot be considered LGBT-friendly or progressive.

What added to my exhaustion was that enquiries and discussions were framed within the simplistic idea of "supporting LGBT students." We need to rigorously examine the concepts of "LGBT," "student," and "support." Otherwise, the "problem" ends up being limited to LGBTs rather than gender and sexuality issues on the campus as a whole, which should include women and men, minorities and the majority. LGBT faculty and staff (like me) also become completely invisible. While we do need to share our expertise and experience in order to address these urgent requests to help support LGBT students, I felt the limitations of only focusing on the immediate problems at hand, having the same discussions over and over, without sharing a fundamental understanding of the broader issues involved.

It was in response to these challenges that we created the Gender, Sexuality, and Campus Life series. The first volume, ICU Possibilities Guide, is an updated, comprehensive guide for LGBTs at ICU, based on one of our previous publications, LGBT in ICU Student Guidebook. The second volume, 108 Things You Can Do at University, lists 108 suggestions for improvement that could be achieved by individual institutions without the need for any legislative reforms at a national level, emphasizing the vital contribution of students. Indeed, the changes so far enacted at ICU would not have been possible had it not been for the coming out of minority students. True progress cannot be achieved with a top-down approach alone, by which LGBT-friendly policies are simply enforced by the university administration; rather, the university needs to be fundamentally reconsidered from the perspective of all its members, including the students. We hope that this series will help to achieve this aim.

Newsletter019: Monthly Archives