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Japanese School Holds ‘Gender Change Day’

TOKYO|

Japan’s school uniforms are typically pretty divided across gender lines, so the Fuji Hokuryo school in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture decided to allow its students a bit of leeway with what it’s dubbed “S8x Change Day,” a play on the terms “S7x” and “Exchange.” On this special day, male and female students were allowed to trade uniforms.

A voluntary event, 117 male students participated while 182 female students joined in, with coverage of the event even making the national news.

Yesterday wasn’t your typical day at Fuji Hokuryo High School in Yamanashi Prefecture. Male and female students could trade uniforms for what the school dubbed “Sex Change Day” (セクスチェンジ・デー or sekusu chenji dee). The event made the national news.
According to one of Japan’s largest papers, Asahi Shimbun (via game site My Game News Flash), the day took its name from “sex” and “exchange” (交換 or koukan)—though, perhaps, calling it “Gender Change Day” would have been a lot more accurate. Boys donned plaid skirts and ribbons, and girls wore slacks and neckties. The point was to allow students the freedom to separate themselves from predetermined notions of manliness and femininity.

In Japanese high schools and junior high schools, the male and female students typically have different uniforms. Sometimes they both wear blazers, but other parts of the uniform are genderified. Some schools have male students wear uniforms called “gakuran,” while female students wear sailor suits, which draw an even sharper line between boys and girls.

This sort of event is not widespread in Japan—which is why it got national news coverage. It was voluntary and 117 male and 182 female students took part. Participating pupils swapped uniforms that fit their size and studied in class a usual, with the idea being what they took as givens weren’t necessarily givens. Ain’t that the truth.

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