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07 March 2011

Rumiko Matsubara 松原留美子 (195?–) performer.

Rumiko Matsubara 松原留美子 won a beauty contest for businesses in the Roppongi night-club area in Tokyo in 1981 as a woman, and was used as a model: the ‘Roppongi Beauty’.

Once her transgender status was revealed, she posed semi-nude for a men's magazine, released an album of songs, and acted in a film Kura no naka, 1981. She was promoted using the newly coined term nyūhā fu, which was coming to be used for mixed-gender persons.

She described herself:
'I have been a woman since the day I was born. Only my body was mistakenly born as male.'
  • Interview with Rumiko Matsubara.  Allen, 12, Oct 1982: 42-4.
  • Mark McLelland. Queer Japan from the Pacific War to the Internet Age. Lanham Md & Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield 2005: 198.
  • Mark McLelland. “Living more ‘Like Oneself’: Transgender Identities and Sexualities in Japan”. In Jonathan Alexander and Karen Yescavage. Bisexuality and Transgenderism: InterSEXions of the Others. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press, 2003: 214.


    hā fu (=half) was an established Japanese word for a mixed race person, especially a Euro-Japanese person.  nyūhā fu (= new half) was coined in 1981, and was first used by a 'gai' singer called Betty. The term was picked up by the press in time for it to be applied to Rumiko.  While the term would seem to approximate to what Westerners might call a non-op trans woman, McLelland emphasizes that it is best understood as an occupational category.

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