School asserts that it will accept female-identifying students even if they are listed as male on their legal family registry.

Though it hasn’t been happening with identical speed and along the exact same vectors as in other countries, same-sex couples and LGBT individuals have been winning greater acceptance from Japanese society and legal systems over the past few years. Now, in another development of changing aspects of gender culture, Tokyo’s Ochanomizu University has announced a new policy welcoming transgender students.

Simply admitting transgender students may not sound particularly progressive by today’s standards, but it’s important to bear in mind that while the school’s official English name is Ochanomizu University, in Japanese the institution is called Ochanomizu Joshi Daigaku, which translates to “Ochanomizu Women’ University.” Since its founding in 1875, the school’s student body has been exclusively female, and the administration has come to the decision that transgender individuals who identify as female should be included.

To reiterate, the school will not be requiring that students born with male genitalia undergo a sex-change operation before enrolling. It has emphasized that even applicants’ whose sex is listed as male on their official government family register (a legal document which all Japanese citizens must be registered in) will be allowed to attend the school so long as they identify as female. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology says it is the first women’s school in Japan to make such a decision.

The new more accepting admission rules will ostensibly apply to foreign students as well. Ochanomizu University, located in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, actively recruits applicants from overseas and maintains an English-language official website.

However, the new rules won’t go into effect until the 2020 school year (the Japanese academic year begins in April). In the time between then and now, the school will be working out how to properly implement the new system. Among other issues, it’s common for the campuses of women’s colleges in Japan to refuse entrance to men who aren’t there as teachers or in some sort of official capacity, with security guards posted at entrances to the school. In the past, any visibly male, student-age individuals would be turned away, but the presence of transgender students will necessitate a modified policy.

Ochanomizu University has scheduled a press conference for July 9, at which point it will provide further details regarding its revised admissions system.

Source: Yomiuri Online, Nihon Keizai Shimbun 
Top image: Wikipedia/Lombroso