The Newhalf Net: Japan's “Intermediate Sex” On-Line
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After English, Japanese is the most widely represented language on the Internet; yet, because Japanese is not widely spoken outside Japan, very little information exists in English about the ways in which the Internet is being used by queer communities in Japan. This essay looks at how one group within Japan's transgender community is deploying Internet technology. Japan's “newhalf” (nyuuhaafu) are transgendered men who consider themselves to be a “third” or “intermediate” sex, and they work in clearly-defined roles as hostesses, companions, and sex workers within Japan's extensive sex and entertainment industry. The contents of several newhalf Websites are analyzed, and their different applications are discussed. It is suggested that the Internet is being used to disseminate information about sexual services and identities that have a long history in Japan, rather than to encourage the development of more “politicized” sexual identities.
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