Crossdressing in mainstream media of Japan is still somewhat in its infancy. While on a nightly basis you can easily catch a crossdresser or transsexual person on TV, they often are presented as 2D characters offering little insight to who they really are or why they lead such a life.
“Transgender” and “gay” are still synonymous to many people, but this is a situation that is steadily changing with greater awareness provided by works such as Yuri Danshi which was released on 31 July, and covers nine cross-dressing men in a wide range of styles and fashions from girl-next-door to gyaru.
Otoko no ko is a term used to refer to crossdressing men who have innate feminine characteristics and enjoy dressing in clothes typically reserved for females. These are the types of crossdressers which the creator of Yuri Danshi, Naoko Tachibana wants to focus on for this book.
However, Naoko Tachibana is a seasoned pro at transforming all types of men into women from her studio in Akihabara boasting upwards of 600 customers. Aside from her artistic talents she continuously supports the transgendered by trying to open doors for them. Last year she wrote a column for RocketNews24 speaking out against the no-crossdressing rule at many Japanese cosplay events.
This new book, as well, was not exactly welcomed with open arms by many publishers in the country. Despite her pleas of “wanting to show people the attractiveness of otoko no ko” and “wanting to push away the world’s negative impressions of crossdressers,” Tachibana received more than a few cold shoulders.
Still through her hard work, the book can now see the light of day and was put out by My Way Publishing in stores and online. To celebrate a special event is being held in Tokyo where visitors and hear behind the scenes and more personal stories from the artists and models involved.
Tachibana hopes as many people from different walks of life check out the book whether they’re fans of crossdressing, looking to get into it but are scared, or plain don’t get it. Here are her own feelings on the matter.
“I’m a woman, but I love people who crossdress. Although I’m often asked why, to me it’s clear that if they’re cute or beautiful it doesn’t matter what gender they are. The world has decided that “men should be this way” which is just disrespectful and off-base. You should be able to do by whatever you personally like. Having realized that, I love and cherish those who pursue such a life. Don’t judge these otoko no ko from the viewpoint a woman or a man is expected to have, but by what naturally moves your heart. Then you’ll see it a different way. There’s a lot more going on; facial expressions, gestures, fashion, and contexts to name a few. Keep these ideas in mind when you pick up this book and you may feel like a freer person when you’re done.”
Often when we have published crossdressing or transsexual stories in the past, people judge the men on how convincing their female image is. While that might be a goal for some, for many their aim isn’t to disguise themselves as a woman but to just become themselves.
Once the pretense of being a man or a woman as we know it is stripped away we can better appreciate the raw beauty of an angle, a glance, an action or a moment for what it’s truly supposed to be rather than what it’s “supposed to be.”
Release: 31 July, 2013
Price: 1,980 yen (US$20)
Publisher: My Way
Videos about Otoko no ko
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