My name is Makoto Hibino, came from Kyoto Japan.
Thank you for giving me a chance to speak here.
I do not speak English well,
but many people say that you are not impossible to be understood.
so I read my text in my speach.
But listening English is too much harder than speaking.
So for the questioning and answering time, I asked translater.
Jun-san is here.
This is my first visit to the US
and this is my first experience to spend all the time in English.
Before this conferance, I had speach tour at the west coast of the US.
And some conversation there was very interesting for me.
I was asked at the first of the converstion like this.
“What pronoun do you prefer to be called? HE or SHE?
My answer is
“Please call Makoto”
I am a Male to X-gender transgender, or in English to say I am GenderQueer, in Japanese “OKAMA".
In Japan, I have strongly proposed speaking without gender if it is not necessary.
Now I feel,
in Japanese it is much more easier to speak without gender pronoun than in English.
But in English, it is difficult to speak without specifying one’s gender.
This was surprising for me.
There is difference between Japanese and English about an arrangement of gender in the language.
Today I am not going to speak about transgender or sisgender,
I think that my speech is from such a different cultue.
Ok, let’s start.
In Japan, I have been challenging how we think about gender and sexuality from my experience as “bisexual” and transgender activist.
Also, as I will discuss later, I participated in the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine in 2002.
What I’ve learned from my participation in various movements are
the dangers of simplistic approaches taken by many social change movements
the importance of viewing things from multiple angles and thinking and addressing multiple issues at the same time.
That is, I have learned that even the righteous demands and necessary social movements can conceal other important issues that must be addressed.
The first topic is bisexual issue, because we are in conference on bisexuality.
Unfortunately, in Japan there is also discrmination against bisexual people in our queer community.
For easy example, the name of the biggest pride parade inJapan is still “Tokyo Lesbian and Gay parade.”
Of course everyone here know that there are many people who are not lesbians nor gays In OUR community.
We know that there are, at least, bisexuals, transgenders, Asexual people, queers, people with intersex condition and people with various kinds of identity or conditions.
Though it is well known that there are bi or other people in the parade, but they are ignored in the title of the parade.
This kind of second class treatment is also exist in Japan.
Not exactly as the same as in the USA, but certainly there is homophobia in Japan society.
Many people believe that every person is male or female.
And to love person with the other gender is thought as normal.
Therefore the struggle against homophobia is also needed in Japan.
I have been talked with many activists, and in some case I had dialog with them.
But some of gay activists did not listen to me, and did not understand bisexual issue.
Especially those who think themselves as a victim of the discrimination and those who willing to insist of their rights first anyway, I had difficulty to talk with.
Just when you come to the community at first, and when you talk to neighbors,
in such case, poeple can afford to worry about others in prety different situation from you.
But if someone has many fellows and trys to organize movement,
just when that one has the power to choose people,
many activists tend not to listen to others.
I know those who ignore bisexuas are NOT a bad person.
They do not have special ill will.
They think that they only want to stop discrimination.
They only want not to be discriminated.
But such kind of people sometimes refuse to listen to me even I am in front of them.
Especially when someone think themselves as a victim,
especially when someone are very deep in organizing movement with their fellows,
especially when that movement or struggle is right, necessary and important,
in such cases,
I think that people has a difficulty in hearing other’s voices, people tends to ignore others.
I have learned this lesson through my bisexual experience in the gay community.
The word bisexual means 2 sexual.
Bisexual means people who love both male and female.
Therefore, the word bisexual does not exactly fit me.
It is common for lesbians, gays and straight people
that to love people of only one specific gender.
For lesbians, gays and straight people, the gender of the others is important.
On the other hand, there are people who love people of not only one specific gender.
They love people of male or female or other gender people depend on the case.
The other’s gender is not the first condition, and another condition is more important for them.
For example, whether tall or short, slim or plump,
such kind of condition is important,
not male or female.
The existance of these people points that the special interest in gender,
like lesbians and gays and straight people have,
is not common for all people.
They point that the gender is refered to even in love,
because the binary gender system is common in our society.
The first important condition in choosing partner is gender
—this kind of way is thought as if it is general way for all,
and is imposed on all of us, though such kind of way is only for some people.
Actually the word bisexual is made for those who are specially interested in other’s gender.
The word bisexual classify human depend on the gender of the relation between 2 people.
” Which people of gender do you like? Male or female? otherwise both?”
I feel uncomfortable with this question itself.
Instead, for example next question would fit for me.
” I like short people. Do you like tall person or short person? otherwise both?”
Essentially my question might has a same value as the before.
But the questions which ask about gender are more seriously treated than my questions.
When I use the word bisexual, I have more difficulty to explain my uncomfortable feelings.
More difficulty to explain the privilege of those who are specially interested in other’s gender.
Also the word bisexual has an assumption
that there were only 2 genders in the world.
But including me, there are, here are many people who are not male nor female.
This kind of inconvenient might occur
because the word bisexual in based on the binary gender system.
In order to espress the presence of those who are not lesbian nor gay in OUR community,
the word bisexual has been used.
I also use this word to explain very easily.
It was a necessary word.
But by explaining easily through the word bisexual,
we might have more difficulty to point out the privilege of those who are specially interested in other’s gender.
We might behave as if all people are male or femare, even we have no ill will.
Finally I feel misgivings about supporting the binary gender system.
I think that when we use the word bisexual, we have to know not only it’s positive side but also the possibilily of negative effect may also exist.
There are many elements in the binary gender system.
Feminisms have been pointed sexism.
There are also many movement against homophobia.
I have been pointed out, through my bi experience,
the privilege of those who are specially interested in other’s gender.
During my presentation on Bisexual in Japan,
I was criticized by Asexual activists like this.
You are discusing the question “do you like male? or female?”
This is nice.
But you also have hidden assumption that all people are interested in romance or sex.
Do you understand that we are all forced to have interest in romance or sex?
I had been making speach with a hidden unaware assumotion
that all people are interested in romance and sex.
As if such interest is normal for all.
I am interested in romance or sex.
So before I was criticized, I could not be aware of it.
And I learned that the binary gender system also force people to have interest in romance and sex.
In addition, Asexual people are different from lesbian, gay and straight people who are interested in romance or sex.
Therefore Asexual people are not interested in the other’s gender.
At this point, the distans to the gender,
I think Asexual people might be similar to bisexual people.
Especially when people are willling to express something to others,
even if no one has ill will,
they tend to make mistake or failure.
I talked about this through some kind of gay activist,
but I forced to know that this is also my own story.
To have interest in romance and sex is normal for all.
I had been also taking part in spreading this kind of wrong assumption.
Even inside of the minority movement, there can be discrimination against minorities within.
Simple explanations has both positive side and negative side.
If some kind of movement is necessary for someone,
sometimes it can be a oppression to others even if no one has ill will.
We all have a possibility to make mistake without awareness.
I learned these kind of lessens through my activism dealing with the binary gender system.
And these lessens become my very usefull tools to think about other issues.
Ok, now I change the subject to about Palestine.
I joined the International Solidarity Movement on 2002, it was 2 years ago.
ISM (it means the International Solidarity Movement) was organaized by Palestinian activist, Israeli activist and American Jewish activist.
When I joined 2 years ago, people came from Iceland, Denmark, Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America and Jordan.
I went Balata refugee camp near Nablus on the West Bank.
But unfortunately only 24hours later,
8 of us including me were detained by Israeli soldier.
Then Israeli government dicide to deport us,
but 3 of 8, incliding me, did not accept deportation and went to the court.
At the first hearing we were released on bail.
But at last we lost at the court, and deported.
Durig my stay in Jelsarem under bail,
I had a chance to join pride parade in Tel Aviv.
ISM is based on non-violent, direct action.
ISM homepage said
“This is the time where we need everybody here",
“Provide Protection for civilians by staying with Families in Refugees camps, villages and towns",
“Help documenting the facts, either through cameras or video or writing diaries to be published through e-mail and internet”
“Looking forward for having you in Palestine.”
I am only a Japanese queer activist, and I can’t speak Arabic, I don’t have medical skill,
so “what can I do in Palestine?”
I was afraid I might be an burden to ISM.
But anyway ISM said “come! come!", so I decided to go.
Anyway at any time I can back home if I might be an burden to ISM.
After I joined ISM and went Balata Palestinian refugee camp,
I understood that only to become a witness at Palestine is still very positive and valuable action.
In Balata refugee camp under occupation by Israel,
Israeli soldiers are destroying refugee’s house and wall.
They also destroy furnitures.
Neta Goran, one of the first organizer of ISM, made a protest to soldiers against their demolition.
” Why do you make a hole in this wall? If you want to come in this house, you can enter from the entrance door. How do you feel if your house is demolished like this!”
At first I was amazed.
Because Neta talked to soldiers as if talking with citizens in town.
Many of soldiers were high teens or youth in the twenties.
Neta directly asked every such young soldiers about the reason why they demolish houses and furnitures.
And closely questioned soldiers had to answer like this.
“No, I did not destroied furnitures unnecessarily. Some soldiers might do such thing, but anyway I did not. “
Then I understood what is a witness, what ISM doing.
At the battlefield under curfew,
where many tanks ran around,
internationals (ISMers) walk around in demilitarized outfit,
as if they are only tourists.
And ask every soldiers indivisibly with respect.
“Why do you demolish other’s houses?”
The wrong action in Tokyo or New York or Tel aviv is also wrong here in Balata refugee camp,
even if in the battlefield.
This rule is natural.
Why do we have to change the standard in the battlefield?
Why do we have to accept wrong action while in the battlefield?
Nothing should be specially allowed even in the battlefield.
Of course these are a message not only for soldiers but also for us.
When we internationals walked around on the street,
many Palestinian talked to us. And say
“just look! this hole is made by soldiers yesterday”
“please look at this despoiled room!”
“take photos and show them to the world.”
And then said
“why don’t you come to my home and eat dinner with us?”
“if you don’t mind please stay in my house.”
On ISM homepage I read this “Provide Protection for civilians by staying with Families in Refugees camps.” But I could not understand at all.
Why only staying means “Provide Protection” ?
But in Balata I found that it became more difficult for Israeli soldiers to do wrong
if there were internationals’ eyes.
I remember that the massacres at Sabra and Shatila (1982) carried out after foreigner’s withdrawal.
The UN inquiry commission for Jenis’s massacre were refused entering by Israeli government.
I understood the people’s fear, if there were no witness, anything could be happen.
Witness does not mean only looking,
it means to see the truth positively from a fair third party.
Then I understand what is happening at that time.
For example, when someone come out as a gay in the classroom.
Actually he might be surrounded by quite neutral response or disregarded attitude in Japan.
But in some unfortunate case, he might be attacked by convinced homophobia.
In such case if surrounding people ignore the attack, it can escalate.
But if there is only one person as a third party saying clearly “what are you doing? why you do such attack?",how the situation can become better !
I remember my own painful experiences of facing people’s attitude as if they didn’t see or hear the incident at all even occurred in front of them.
And I also remember the time when I indeed need witness. In this way I really understand, from the bottom of my heart, the sincere needs of witness in Palestine.
The needs is the same in my daily life in Japan.
Besides, internationals carry foods or medicine if needed,
because some Palestine cities are occupied and people are prohibitted to walk around the street.
Even injured or sickness people can not go to the hospital
because if they go to walk to hospital, they might be shoot by Israeli army.
So internationals of advanced nation surrounds Palestine person as human shield, and go with to the hospital.
If internationals of advanced nation are shoot by soldier,
this may become the big international trouble.
Palestinians are killed easily but citizens of advanced nation are not.
Of course, this fact is the problem.
But anyway and therefore we the internationals surround them.
Through all of these, I clearly understand that Israel is now invading, occupying and colonizing Palestine.
Exactly to say, all land including place so called the states of Israel is also occupied territory.
After seeing what occurs in Palestinian,
I start thinking.
Why this kind of injustice are accepted in this world.
After a while, I understand that Israel is not the expection in the world.
Yes, it is true that the Israel is now invading, occupying, colonizing Palestine.
But for example, Japan did the same kind of things just 100 or 200 years ago.
I am not saying only about the invasion to Korea or China or others,
but also about Ainu-mo-shiri or Ryukyu.
About more than 100 years ago, Japan invade Ainu-moshiri, which is now north part of Japan.
There lived the indigenous people called Ainu. And of course now they still live in Japan.
Japan’s government still never admit the rights of the indigenous people in Japan.
And still now, Ainu people do NOT have the rights to learn their own language at school.
Japan also invaded, occupied and colonized Ryukyu about a few hundreds years ago.
Ryukyu is still like the colony of Japan, and also the colony of the U.S.A.
There are large and many military bases exist in Japan now.
And more than 75% of US bases in Japan are in Ryukyu.
People who live in mainland of Japan do not like military base, of course, and impose the bases to Ryukyu.
I have been talking about Japan.
But everyone know that all of the USA is also invaded, occupied, colonized land.
There has been the same kind of things for more than 500 years, from so called the discovery of Colon.
And Israel is doing the same just now.
Such way of things is not the exception in the world.
Might is right.
This is OUR history.
The invasion, the occupation and colonizing by Japan or USA is still now continued.
Not only in Afghanistan or Iraq, but also inside of our “own” land.
So who can easily blame only Israel?
I think that we have to not only stop the occupation by Israel,
but also we must change our own way.
I said I joined the pride march in Tel Aviv.
It might be only one pride in the middle east area.
About 15,000 people joinned to the pride parade.
For me, both Israeli culture and Palestinian culture are a little bit homophobic.
So pride was very exciting for me, and I felt free at the pride parade.
There were many float cars, many people were dancing with music.
Yes it was very nice time for me.
But after a while, I found that some people had two flags in their hands.
One is the rainbow flag, of course, and the other is Israeli national flag.
I also found many Israeli national flags were put up along the road alternated with rainbow flags by the hosting organization of the parade.
For me, the Israeli national flag is the symbol of the occupation.
I saw it when I was in jail.
It is the symbol of invasion and occupation.
Maybe the same as the national flag of the US in Iraq, Afghanistan or in many other places.
And maybe the same as the national flag of Japan in Asia.
And also the rainbow flag is the symbol of diversity, the symbol of minority rights.
I got confused.
Why can people have 2 flags at the same time?
Then I understood that, for them those who have 2 flags,
the Israeli national flag might be the symbol of Jewish minority movement also.
Indeed, the Jewish people have been discriminated for long time,
and they are still in such situation.
So for those who had 2 flags, both flags may be the symbol of minority movement.
I felt very sad because many people in the parade ignored the Palestine people,
even as the occupation continues only 2 hours away by car.
The important movement for us, for queer people,
makes the occupation hide or disappear from our minds.
Is this really the parade for the minority rights?
I talked about this at the beginning of my speech.
Especially when someone think themselves as a victim,
people has a difficulty in hearing other’s voices,
people tends to ignore others.
I’m not saying that the Israeli people in the parade and some gay activists are all the same.
But there are similarities.
Such attitude can be found everywhere in the world.
The Stars and Stripes, the national flag of the USA and people with that flag just after 9.11(nine-eleven) looks also similer to Israel for me.
However I was delighted to find a small group of people in this parade,
a few hundred people or so, protesting the occupation.
The name of that group was “Black Laundry.”
They said that
“It is not the time to celebrate colorfully because occupation is still continuing.”
“Dykes and Fags against the occupation”
They made black and white photocopy of rainbow flag to distribute widely.
They were queer group in Israel, but did not identified as Israeli group.
There are some pro-Plestine activism in Japan.
And many people visit Palestine or join ISM from Japan every year.
After they learn what is happening now in Palestine,
they often come to dislike Israel and Israeli people.
And some people blame Israel without much thought.
But I feel uncomfortable to hear such comments.
Israel is now invading, occupying, colonizing Palestine.
This is unjust and the occupation must be stopped.
But Israel is not the only problem.
How about Japan?
How about the USA?
It is NOT the past problem.
I am NOT ONLY saying about strong support of the US for Israel.
As we speak, the U.S. forces are in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
What are they doing now?
Invasion, occupation and colonization have been the fundamental policy of both the US and Japan for centuries.
When I joined “Woman in Black” in Jerusalem,
one orthodox person, which means ultra religious conservative person, said like this.
” In Palestinian village, lesbians are killed by villagers.
To the contrary, in Israel gay’s rights are more accepted.
Why do you support Palestine?”
This one said truth.
I also heard the same thing from Noan, the first menber of the Black Loundry.
well, should the invasion and the occupying be allowed because of this fact?
If someone say YES,
it means that the USA should be invaded and occupied again by other nation because of many hate crimes.
The occupation and the hate crime should be thought separately,
and both each should be ended.
No one is perfectly innocent.
Everyone has possibility to make mistake.
Israel looks like very bad,
but it is our things.
Japan and the USA are, historicaly and presently, country of the invasion like Israel.
But therefore, we have to express our will to against the invasion, the occupation and the colonizing inside of our society and inside of our community,
like poeple of Black Laundry is doing in Israel.
It is our responsibility to protest against the invasion of the USA and Japan.
A few days ago, I hear that one Japanese wrote “suside bomb” as a practice of English in the airplane, and that was found by the crew of the plane, and then, that airplane went back to the airport, and that Japanese was detained for a while.
I was very surprised to know this.
Only to write “suside bomb", what is the problem?
Even if you have big fear, to ask directly and to search one’s baggage might be enough.
Why that one must be detained?
I felt people in the US react too much.
Please don’t react too much.
Please Don’t Panic!
Someone might say,
「there is possibility to be killed」
「there is dangerousness to be attacked」
Please think again.
Such words should be, at first, words of people in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Words of Arabic people or non-white people in the USA.
And of people in Guantanamo Bay base in cuba.
Please Don’t Panic!
Of course, “Don’t Panic!” is the famouse brand name of the Tshirts.
“Don’t Panic!” should be the OUR way.
It should NOT be our way to think only oneself.
This is the today’s conclusion.
Thank you for listening to me.
If you have some questions,
Please ask me.
Now Jun-san will translate.
(Question and Answer)
I will stay in Minneapolis till 10th morning.
So if you are interested in me, please catch me and talk with.
My web site also has some English texts.
Please visit from link in conference web site.
Thank you again to listen to me.