Pantene #PrideHair video showcases Japanese transgender community issues

The transgender community does not get much mainstream attention in Japan as elsewhere, perhaps with the exception of Matsuko Deluxe, and the major debates over pronouns and gender definitions have not dominated public discourse in the same way as they have in other countries.

Nonetheless, transgender sexuality has a long and vibrant history in Japanese culture, and the rights and needs of trans people need to be heard.

Whether out of genuine agreement with this sentiment or out of woke cynicism that spotted a marketing opportunity, Pantene recently showcased the problems that transgender people face in Japan when hunting for a job.

Job hunters often have to abide by strict and conservative dress codes, especially if interviewing with major corporations, and must fill out resumes almost always with only two options for gender (“male” or “female”).

Over 70% of LGBTQ+ people in Japan (said to comprise 8.9% of the total population) said in one study that they have trouble getting a job, with the primary cause cited as fear of discrimination and prejudice. Many also said they were uncertain about how to present themselves in an interview.

The “This Hair is Me” video made by Pantene, featuring two transgender former job-hunters, is available in Japanese with English subtitles.

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For these two individuals, “hair is an important part of their identity, and a symbol of pride.”

In addition to the video, the campaign was also featured on a billboard in Omotesando Station in central Tokyo.

Incidentally, the very dynamic Japanese costume market has a lot of otoko no ko (literally, male daughter) cross-dressing costumes and outfits for more casually gender-curious wearers. In this way, the trans culture here goes beyond some conventional understandings of cis/trans, and gay/straight.

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1 Comment

  • Danny October 28, 2020

    oh boy, japan is getting hit by the nonsense slowly.
    I’ll pray for you all.

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