Photo/IllutrationTelevision Yamaguchi Broadcasting Systems Co.’s headquarters building in Yamaguchi on Nov. 14 (Hiroki Ito)

  • Photo/Illustraion

YAMAGUCHI--A local TV station here will apologize to a transgender woman after broadcasting a program on people with unusual names and others that mocked and outed her without her consent.

“(The crew) didn’t give me any explanation beforehand, and I never thought my gender would be exposed in such a way,” the woman said.

“The program was filled with prejudice, and I was shocked,” she added.

The woman was featured in a local show aired earlier this month on Television Yamaguchi Broadcasting Systems Co., a TV station headquartered in the capital of Yamaguchi Prefecture, and an affiliate of Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc.

The show, titled “Shumatsu chigumaya kazoku” (weekend Yamaguchi family), had a segment in which a "tarento" (talent) visits local shops and residents with unusual names, without an appointment.

The woman was interviewed by the celebrity-led crew when she was changing the oil in her car while wearing work clothes.

The talent spoke to her, asking what she was doing. Then she was asked, “Are you a woman?”

“Are you often told that you are unusual?” the talent added.

There a voice-over narration began: “In fact, this person has a secret.”

After a commercial break, the segment restarted with the talent interviewing a relative of the woman about her in her absence.

“Is the woman really a man?!” the interviewer said. “I’m so surprised.”

The segment showed the woman’s picture, inserting an on-screen caption that says, “Unusual! A man who looks like a woman.”

The woman, who was born a male but has identified herself as and lived as a female, told The Asahi Shimbun after the program was aired that she was interviewed “as a woman.”

“Yet, they went out their way to reveal that I am a man without confirming it with me,” she said. “I felt hopeless for a while thinking about what would happen if my colleagues and clients saw the program when it was aired.”

The woman has demanded the TV station offer an explanation for how the broadcast program was produced and aired.

Yasushi Ikeda, a director of administrative bureau of the station, said the company will directly apologize to the person.

“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.”

A producer of the show accompanied the crew when they interviewed the woman, according to Ikeda. He cited that as a possible reason why the segment was aired without being carefully checked.

Maki Muraki, founder and leader of Nijiiro Diversity, an Osaka-based nonprofit organization to promote understanding of and acceptance for sexual minorities at workplaces, expressed concern over the way the show treated the transgender person.

“Exposing someone’s sexuality-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.”

(Hikari Mokuta contributed to this article.)