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A TV Station Outed and Harassed a Trans Woman on Live TV

Woman at desk

She was questioned about her gender identity and repeatedly misgendered.

A transgender woman was outed on live television in Japan.

During a local show called Shumatsu Chigumaya Kazoku which translates to 'Weekend Yamaguchi Family' on Yamaguchi Broadcasting Systems earlier this month, a Japanese woman was featured in a segment in which a presenter approaches people who are deemed "unusual" in public, according to The Asahi Shimbun.

While changing the oil in her car the woman was chastised by a celebrity-led crew who questioned if she was a woman.

"Are you a woman?" the presenter asked. "Are you often told that you are unusual?"

A voice-over narration follows stating: "In fact, this person has a secret."

Following a commercial break, the segment continues with ongoing harassment towards the woman, with the presenter reportedly asking one of her relatives if she was really a man.

"Is the woman really a man?!" the interviewer said. "I'm so surprised."

The woman's picture is shown with an on-screen caption that read: "Unusual! A man who looks like a woman."

The woman, who is transgender, has since demanded an apology from Yamaguchi Broadcasting Systems.

"They went out of their way to say that I am a man without confirming it with me," she told The Asahi Shimbun. "I felt hopeless for a while thinking about what would happen if my colleagues and clients saw the program when it was aired."

Yasushi Ikeda, a director of the station, said the company will apologize to the woman directly.

"The content requires extreme caution before broadcasting, and we have taken the things that the person has pointed out seriously," Ikeda said. "[The crew] thought the person was a woman when they interviewed her and have regretted not confirming with her if she would be OK with the segment being aired. The captioning was not appropriate, either."

Maki Muraki, founder of Nijiiro Diversity, a nonprofit organization based in Osaka which takes on issues of "LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace" according to its website, expressed concern over the way the show treated the unnamed woman.

"Exposing someone's [gender]-related information without the person's consent, known as 'outing,' is a violation of human rights," Muraki said. "It affects people's mental health, sometimes leading to their death."

According to the Human Rights Campaign in an 84-page report titled 'A Really High Hurdle': Japan's Abusive Transgender Legal Recognition Process, trans people in Japan are forced to be surgically sterilized if they want legal recognition of their gender identity -- a law that Kanae Doi, the Japan director at the Human Rights Campaign says is "outdated" and needs to be "urgently revised."

"Japan should uphold the rights of transgender people and stop forcing them to undergo surgery to be legally recognized," Doi said. "The law is based on an outdated premise that treats gender identity as a so-called 'mental illness' and should be urgently revised."

RELATED | Trans Woman Forced to Show ID Because Face 'Didn't Match Her Name'

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