Women’s colleges in Japan are gradually accepting transgender students

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The Japan Women’s University Mejiro campus is seen in Tokyo. The university will begin accepting transgender students from the 2024 academic year. (Mainichi/Katsuteru Nakamura)

TOKYO — As initiatives to accept transgender women assigned male at birth and identifying as female spread to women’s colleges across Japan, a student journalist from Mainichi Shimbun examined the context leading to the transgender admissions policies.

Japan Women’s University has decided to accept transgender students from the 2024 academic year, while Nara Women’s University has already set a precedent.

Behind Japan Women’s University’s decision to welcome transgender students is a 2015 investigation by a tutor of a trans girl who wanted to know if the child was eligible to take the college entrance exam affiliated with the college. Satoko Oyama, a professor at the university’s Faculty of Integrated Arts and Social Sciences who is in charge of this issue, commented: “In the past, we may have refused immediately, but this has become an opportunity to s ‘engage with the issue as a challenge facing the institution as a whole, while taking into account the social climate that recognizes diversity and thinking about how to approach it.






Satoko Oyama, left, a professor at the Faculty of Integrated Arts and Social Sciences at Japan Women’s University, and Megumi Koda, head of the diversity promotion office of the student life department, are seen on campus Mejiro from the university. (Mainichi/Katsuteru Nakamura)

However, the trans-inclusive admissions policy was not an easy decision. The discussion began in 2018 to form a consensus within the university, and there were provisions for its implementation from the 2020 academic year. Despite these moves, the view that the introduction of trans inclusion policy was premature predominated mainly among teachers and staff. , and the university changed its policy by devoting time to solving problems and establishing the necessary environment. In June 2020, he revealed that he would start accepting trans students from the start of the 2024 academic year after a four-year preparation period. In June this year, it issued a “diversity statement” with the aim of “aiming to become a women’s college where a wide range of women can study together”. In it, the university also announced its intention to allow trans women to take the exam for the 2024 academic year.

The college is currently developing guidelines on how to respond to situations involving transgender students, including training for faculty and other staff. Oyama said, “Sexual diversity is a sensitive issue. I think a preparation period of at least four years is needed to train faculty members and raise awareness within the university.” 2024 is apparently the year the child who inquired about admission to the Affiliated College in 2015 will reach college application age.

Ochanomizu University and Nara Women’s University, two national institutions, as well as Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University, a private college in northeastern Japan, have taken the initiative to accept women transgender. Nara Women’s University has launched its trans-inclusive admissions policy from the 2020 academic year. The vice-president of the university, Satomi Nishimura, who also teaches in the Faculty of Literature, said: “In a context of awareness in society, we wanted to offer a place where the parties concerned can study at ease.”






This photo provided by Japan Women’s University shows a training session for staff in leadership positions to deepen understanding of diversity.

At a rally ahead of acceptance of trans students, some students already enrolled in college expressed concerns that they might unwittingly do something hurtful to their peers. Therefore, the university has taken extensive and various step-by-step measures, such as researching potential problems, providing explanations and raising awareness among students and parents, training faculty members, and establishing guidelines and a consultation system.

Nishimura commented, “As a national university, we would like to provide education without discrimination. If there are more universities that will accept transgender women in the future, we would like to offer the necessary information as a precedent. We hope that this then leads to a society where the admission of trans students is so natural that it is not even referred to as a subject.”

(Japanese original by Katsuteru Nakamura, journalist from Taisho and Campal University)

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Campai

A portmanteau of “campus” and “pal”. The official name is “Editorial Department of Mainichi Shimbun Campal”. Campal’s first article was published on February 4, 1989, and appeared every Tuesday in the evening edition of Mainichi Shimbun in the area covered by the newspaper’s Tokyo headquarters. About 20 student reporters, mainly from universities in the Tokyo metropolitan area, take part in its activities. The mission of the department is to “transmit what students want to know”. Students do everything from planning to reporting and writing. It has spread to nine regions of the country.

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