top of page

Trans Japan: Gender Diverse Experiences of Belonging in Japan [Postdoctoral Project]



Start date



Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, Japan [in affiliation with NTNU, Trondheim, Norway]

JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Standard Postdoctoral Fellowship)

31 March 2023

  • To study how gender-diverse people in Japan are finding ways to cope or even thrive despite the lack of complete sociolegal recognition. The project will examine how gender-diverse people work individually and communally to make sense of their experiences and envision their futures in new ways.

  • To analyse the interviews through the contextual lens of Japanese culture and history, in order to understand how and why gender-diverse people in Japan interpret and respond to their experiences as they do. 

  • To promote a post-colonial framework for understanding gender-diversity in Japan. The project will demonstrate the limitations of the conventional Euro-American framework of human rights and happiness and provide an alternative method of understanding gender-diverse rights in Japan.

  • Individual interviews and Participant observation (activist meetings and events)​

  • How do gender-diverse people in Japan navigate the dynamic terrain of gender norms and carve out spaces for subjectivity, community-building and social/national belonging?

  • How are the experiences of gender-diverse people in Japan informed by global and local discourses around gender diversity rights, and how might they adapt these discourses in strategic ways?

  • What can the personal narratives on belonging tell us about the limitations of the Euro-American rights framework for understanding the conditions faced by Japan’s gender minorities, and how can they contribute to a more holistic approach for research on gender-diverse lives in non-Western contexts?

  • How can these stories of belonging help the nascent field of trans/gender studies better reflect the nuanced realities of being trans in the Euro-American context?


The research findings will be shared with the general public, the international academic audience, and NTNU and Ochanomizu. I will produce the following, most in collaboration with fellow (gender-diverse Japanese) researchers:

  • Website of the project, continually updated

  • Three peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles, co-authored with Japanese LGBT researchers

  • A one-day workshop for students and activists to come together, at Ochanomizu

  • An academic conference, at Ochanomizu

  • Findings report at the end of the project

  • Speak on the project at conferences, workshops, seminars, and network meetings; (mostly in Japan)



Research questions



Prof Kei Ishimaru

Department of Psychology

Ochanomizu University



Mariko Morita

Master's student

Department of Psychology

Ochanomizu University


MicrosoftTeams-image (1).png
bottom of page