The June 22 editorial “Struggling with gender identity” commends Japan’s education ministry for conducting its first-ever survey on the issue of gender identity among the nation’s youth. The psychological condition in which the gender into which some individuals are born seems to contradict the gender roles they take on is an issue that requires attention.

Thanks are due to the authors of the editorial for alluding to the condition as something other than a “disorder,” which refers to something not right. It’s a shame, however, that the writers use a newer term, “dysphoria,” to describe the condition. This term is really no better as it pertains to an unhappy state. Who’s to say they even suffer?

The education ministry’s survey likely revealed truer results than we might presumptuously think. Individuals who deal with the condition certainly may feel something is wrong with them — they may even feel unhappy and suffer — but this is due to attitudes held by society at large.

The nature of the universe being random, we might ask ourselves if our drive to put order to it is not a disorder in itself. Society’s attempts to define conditions in absolute terms and to assign roles to people only create problems.

Foreigners in Japan, for example, have come to detest the term “gaijin,” as it literally refers to an outsider who is somehow unwelcome inside this largely homogenous state.

Perhaps those who experience gender identity issues actually suffer only because society makes an issue of the condition being not right. These extraordinary individuals should be encouraged to stand tall and echo proudly the line sung by another extraordinary individual: “I was born this way!”

chris clancy
shiojiri, nagano

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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