Interviews with genderless Japanese youth in Tokyo
This video by i-D features interviews with young people who identity as genderless.
The makers say that this “hypnotic youth movement are [sic] rejecting ideas of fashion defining sexuality” and call it “Tokyo’s most boundary-pushing scene”. The interviews are with four people — Yutaro, Muyua, Yoshiaki, and Satsuki Nakayama (pictured below) — who all have quite large followings on social media.
Genderless identity has particularly risen to the fore in the Japanese media recently with the popularity of the model and television personality Ryucheru.
“When I first wore a skirt, my dad was shocked,” says Yutaro. Muyua, though, notes that people have been “genderless” — wearing the clothes of their supposed opposite gender — from even before the term existed, but new awareness of the concept has helped the trend grow.
The video, however, keeps the debate largely focused on clothing and makeup, but being genderless or agender is not just about cross-dressing: it covers a gamut of different identities, including gender-neutral or having no known gender, or even just a conscious will not to label their gender.
According to i-D, these people are almost “just” making a fashion or style choice. “Fashion and makeup can change you. They changed me,” as one of the interviewees says. But surely there is a lot more to the topic than just this?
We have long explored Japan’s fluid attitude towards gender and sexuality, which often goes way beyond clear-cut definitions of gay and LGBT.
Matsuko Deluxe is gay and dresses in drag on television, but apparently identifies as male. On the other hand, the otoko no ko cross-dressing subculture is popular now but is more like cosplay than a “gay” trend.
The devil is not, then, in the details of the labels but in the fluidity.