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Tell me what you think of Takako Shimura

First, a couple of things. You may noticed I've changed my name. Here's how and why. Since coming out as transgender of couple of years ago, I had been sticking with the name my parents gave me at birth. Needless to say, it doesn't sound like a woman's name. People were understandably confused. I have been thinking about Japanese women's names, since I plan to naturalize as a Japanese citizen soon, but I hadn't given much thought to English names. Somehow it just didn't feel right to me for me to name myself. If I was going to take a woman's name, I thought my mother should be the one to choose it. I have not yet come out to my mother, and very recently, after consulting my sister and my partner, I have decided I never will. That consultation went something like this.

Me: I'm thinking of coming out to Mom tonight.

My sister: Are you crazy? She'll never understand! Besides, what's the point? She's 85!

My partner: I agree with your sister.

Me: Okay.

But the problem of a name remained, so I did something sneaky. At the end of an email about something unrelated, I casually asked:

P.S.: Here's a strange question for you. Do you remember what you were planning to name me if I had been a girl? I just started wondering about this the other day for no particular reason. Another name starting with "R"? (haha)

You see, I have two older sisters, and both of their names start with "R." My mother responded, "If you had been a girl, your name would have been Rachel." I had been joking about the "R" thing, but apparently that had really been the plan.

I like the name. And it matches nicely with my sisters' name. So there it is. I'm leaving Matt as a sort of middle name, partly to let people know that I won't be angry at them if they call me Matt. Please note that this is nothing more than my preference, and that most trans people most definitely do not want to be called by the name they were given at birth. Seriously, don't do it unless they specifically tell you it's okay (as I have done here). Rachel is my preference, though.

I haven't yet come out at work, at least not officially, so university-related materials will continue to use my birth name, but I plan to change that in the next academic year, which begins April 1st, 2018. Future publications will be in the name of Rachel Thorn or Rachel Matt Thorn.

Okay, one more minor notice. I have deadlines. Wow, do I have deadlines. I must (MUST!) stop using social media until I get these out of the way. For about a month, I will only appear on social media to gather data I need to write. Which brings me to the main point of today's post:

Please let me know what you think of the work of Takako Shimura. Anything by Shimura at all. I promise I won't harass you if you talk about things you read in scanlation.

You see, I've been asked (persistently; they simply wouldn't take no for an answer) to write a piece for a special issue of the Japanese magazine Eureka about Takako Shimura. Lots of big names will be writing about Shimura for this issue, but what they want from me is 1) a non-Japanese point of view, and 2) a sexual minority point of view.

Because of that, I particularly want to hear from queer folks. Specifically, I want to hear from

1) trans or non-binary people about their thoughts on Shimura's Wandering Son, and

2) lesbians or bisexual/pansexual women about their thoughts on her Sweet Blue Flowers.

There are of course other works by Shimura that include sexual minorities, so please share your thoughts on all things Shimura. Since I will be off social media for a month, the best way to reach me is by email.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts with me!

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