“Such is the beauty of Girls’ Club – there is an immense feeling of friendship and openness. There is also an endearing feeling of fluidity, gender and sexuality – it doesn’t matter who you are, or how you identify, the club is a welcoming and friendly en
As you take the lift from street level in Shinjuku, Tokyo, to the fourth floor of a grey, dark building, it’s hard to believe that a few metres away is a welcoming and cosy bar. As the front door opens, the pretty pink sofas, cute stuffed toys, and glistening bar suddenly come into view. Ambient lighting is punctuated with twinkling fairy lights, and the room feels warm and homely. This is Girls’ Club, a unique club for trans people, tucked away in the heart of Shinjuku Nichome, Tokyo’s gay district.
Girls’ Club – or Onnanoko Club in Japanese – was started several years ago by its owner, Moca, as a safe space for trans people to come to drink, make friends, and, perhaps most importantly, receive help if needed with make-up and dressing up. Moca realised that not everyone who wants to dress up has access to clothing and makeup, and that some people might be shy or unknowledgeable regarding how to apply products, or how to achieve their look. With this in mind, the club boasts a large selection of women’s clothing, shoes, make-up, wigs, and hair products that all customers can try at their leisure.
There are games and comics for people to help themselves to. A large make-up station with mirror and chairs, and a dressing room, adorn one side of the room. All staff at the club dress in women’s clothing, whether male, female, straight, gay or bi – and for 4,000 Yen (just under £27) customers can buy a special Girls Club make-over.
Moca explains that after transitioning, and following on from organising successful cosplay events, she realised there was a gap in the market for smaller venues that offered help with choosing a look. Beauty salons were expensive, and she wanted as many people as possible to have the experience of dressing up, something easy to access and something friendly and very open.
Such is the beauty of Girls’ Club – there is an immense feeling of friendship and openness. There is also an endearing feeling of fluidity of gender and sexuality
– it doesn’t matter who you are, or how you identify, the club is a welcoming and friendly environment. Kuriko, manager of Girls’ Club, explains there are many types of people who come to the club – it is not solely for trans people. Couples who enjoy cosplay, celebrities who require some privacy, office workers who enjoy the ability to have more freedom in the subjects they want to talk about – there is a wonderfully diverse mixture of clientele. Some customers are transvestites, some are trans women, some are curious straight, gay or bi. She says: “There is a dressing room for guys who want to dress as a woman. There are also lockers
available 24/7 any time if they want to dress and go out during the days.”
The club boasts several rails of female clothing, heels and accessories and customers are encouraged to take a look and try on different outfits.
Michiko, a regular customer of the club, explains how much she enjoys the atmosphere. She regularly makes the hourlong journey from outer Tokyo as there is “nowhere quite like this in the world!” She enjoys the freedom to talk openly about difficult subjects. While with each generation Japan becomes more and more open, there are still many subjects it is not considered respectful to talk openly about. Yet Girls’ Club provides a safe, and open space for people to talk and drink with each other.
Yuki, one of the bar staff, who dresses somewhere between drag and cosplay for work, used to be a showgirl and says that Moca is a pioneer for setting up Girls’ Club. He and and his colleague Kitty describe the fulfilling and satisfying feeling they get when helping people with dressing up and makeup for the first time. Helping customers find their potential and new style is an enriching experience for customers and staff alike.
As Moca chats and laughs with customers at the bar, it’s clear to see that this is a joyful and friendly place. While it is becoming more and more acceptable to be openly gay or trans in Japan, certain outdated stigma from older generations mean that places like Girls’ Club are very important. And Moca’s advice for anyone wanting to try dressing up? “Just give it a go. We will teach you everything.
“While it is becoming more and more acceptable to be openly gay or trans in Japan, certain stigma from older generations mean places like Girls’ Club are very important.”
Recently, I found myself attracted to a trans man. But he doesn’t have a penis. And that’s a game changer for me. So now, I sit here, and now, I’m transphobic. @peejaybrennan
I just took a three-year-old Buzzfeed quiz titled How Transphobic Are You? What struck me the most was how obvious the questions seemed, how quickly our society has adapted in relation to this issue. No, it’s not OK to ask someone about their surgeries without permission. And I’m sorry, but drag queens and trans people are clearly not the same, duh. By today’s standards the quiz is refreshingly unnecessary. I finished and breathed a sigh of relief as I was told that I was not transphobic. Well, if Buzzfeed tells me, it must be true.
I took this quiz for a very specific reason. Recently, I found myself attracted to a trans man. I find his determination to live a full and happy life in the face of some pretty harsh adversity attractive. And he is not only living, he is thriving. He’s handsome. He works with his hands and can make furniture (very Nordic in its design, which I love). He can act; we’ve acted together and I think he’s great, and I’m very judgmental when it comes to acting. He can take a damn good photo, and not in a vapid Instagram THOT trap kind of way. I mean, he can frame a picture and capture an authentic feeling or moment. He loves his dog and there is nothing that tells me more about one’s heart than their love of animals.
But he doesn’t have a penis. And that’s a game changer for me. So now, I sit here, and now, I’m transphobic.
When I was deeply in the closet and would fantasise about living an openly gay life, having sex was always a part of that fantasy. And guess what? I really like dicks. I know that sounds banal, maybe, but it’s the truth. Part of what I understood my sexual liberation would involve was contact with penises. The joy was in the thought that I could touch another man’s genitalia, moreover he would want me to touch his penis. I used to imagine what that would be like. I even used to shy away from looking at another guy’s penis in the gym because I knew how much I was attracted to them.
When I was 12, I was sent to the locker room to find a classmate who had disappeared after gym class. The high school varsity baseball team was getting changed for practice and decided to have some fun with this chubby bespectacled 12 year old wandering around the room shouting, ‘Andrew?’ over and over.
One guy, who was absolutely beautiful, called for my attention. I turned around to find him with his huge dick in his hand, swinging it like a lasso, shouting, ‘You like this? Yeah, look at you, you love this, don’t you?’ It was harassment, it made me feel sick and scared, and I ran out of the locker room.
I did like it. That’s why I ran. He saw right through me and all I was doing was walking around. I ran away because I was ashamed that I liked his penis, that him flashing me was actually one of the most thrilling moments of my life. It reaffirmed in me that I was gay and that this puberty thing I was experiencing was only going to get more complicated and was definitely going to suck.
I’m being told that my attraction to specific male genitalia (ie: a penis) has roots in society’s transphobia or cissexism. At this moment, after really reflecting on it, I disagree.
But then, in my mind, I place myself in front of my trans crush and I imagine telling him to his face that I wouldn’t want to date him because he doesn’t have a penis… and it feels wrong. It feels hurtful. It feels transphobic.
I never understood the wife who complained about having to blow her husband. I’d always want to raise my hand and volunteer as tribute. I love sucking dick. How would you like to wake up to a blowjob every single morning? That’s how much I enjoy penis.
I’ve been scared to say this out loud because transphobia is certainly not something I want to be a part of. But I feel my identity, one that I’m still struggling with, one that I still somewhat hate, is being shaped into something else without my active participation. All of a sudden, what it means to be gay seems to have shifted. I could be wrong, this could be just my flawed perception, but I am trying my best to keep up while remaining honest and kind to myself.
I spent my life hating myself for liking dick and in a way it’s starting to feel like that all over again.
I like dick. Am I transphobic?