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90% of transgender job seekers in Japan face problems, discomfort: survey

In this June 1, 2018 file photo, students wait for job interviews in Tokyo's Sumida Ward. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Maruyama)

TOKYO -- Some 90 percent of transgender job seekers have experienced problems with the highly structured process, such as the standard job-hunting "recruit suit" outfit and the gender box on applications and standardized resumes, according to a recent survey.

The study by the incorporated nonprofit organization ReBit also found that some 40 percent of homosexual and bisexual people with experience looking for employment had had negative encounters during the process, including being asked questions related to their sexuality at interviews. However, very few of the respondents had consulted labor support organizations over the incidents, while answers also highlighted the paucity of support frameworks for LGBT job seekers.

ReBit, dedicated to promoting acceptance and understanding of LGBT people from childhood to entering adult society, conducted the internet-based survey from July to September last year, analyzing the responses from 241 LGBT people with job-hunting experience in Japan in the past 10 years.

Respondents chose the most appropriate answers from a list of job-hunting problems they may have encountered as sexual minorities. The most common answer among transgender people, at almost half of such respondents, was discomfort at how to fill in the gender box on their "rirekisho" -- resumes with a standardized format -- and on preliminary application forms called "entry sheets." Some 30 percent felt distress over getting haircuts and buying "recruit suits" and bags that clearly identified the wearer as male or female.

About 40 percent of homosexual and bisexual respondents also said they had experienced trouble as sexual minorities while looking for a job. Specifically, human resources staff or interview officers had asked questions or made statements based on the assumption that the respondent was not a member of a sexual minority. This made it impossible for the respondents to communicate their sexual identity in their candidate pitches or at interviews.

Furthermore, 96 percent of all respondents never spoke to their school's job search department or went to a public consultation service over the troubling incidents, either due to a lack of information or a belief that nothing could be done.

ReBit also queried 239 people involved in job-search support in the past five years. LGBT people are said to make up a small percentage of the total population, and while many of the respondents seemed highly aware of sexual minorities, some 60 percent said they had never helped an LGBT individual find employment.

The results suggest that help resolving job-hunting issues for members of sexual minorities remains flimsy and that they find it very difficult to talk about their sexual or gender identity in this context. Some 95 percent of the respondents to the survey involved in job-search assistance said they had felt the need for support for sexual minorities during their employment search.

"There's a big role to play there for support organizations that people depend on. There is a need to raise staff awareness and promote learning about this issue through creating manuals and running study sessions," commented ReBit head Mika Yakushi.

(Japanese original by Miyuki Fujisawa, Lifestyle & Medical News Department)

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