This December, the Tokyo Comic-Con kicks off. The event should be similar to its San Diego counterpart, attracting celebrity guests and hordes of cosplayers. However, at the Tokyo event, there was going to be a significant difference: Men could not cosplay in women’s clothing. As Anime News Network points out, the official site clearly stated such under the “regarding cosplay outfits” section, writing that was “prohibited” for men to wear female clothing (男性による女装は禁止です). The ban used the Japanese word “jyosou” (女装), a word which is defined as “wearing female clothing” and which has the explicit nuance of referring to men wearing women’s clothing.
Japan has a long history of men dressing as women. Heck, kabuki theatre does not have actresses and all the women are played by men… wearing female clothing. But as ANN explains, this sort of ban at otaku events is relatively common in Japan, because organisers worry about large numbers of men dressed as women showing up.
Interestingly, even Australian conventions used to have limited rules against people of either gender crossdressing in cosplay, with an early version of Supanova’s cosplay rules requiring that potential ‘crossplayers’ email beforehand for permission in order to “to avoid extreme cases of cross players”.
A thread on Reddit’s r/Anime uncovered an update on Tokyo Comic Con’s website stating that the ban has been lifted:
【女装につきまして】 委員会で協議いたしました結果、女装禁止を解除させていただく運びとなりました。 なお、禁止解除に伴いまして、当日のコスプレ登録証の発行を男女色別に設定させていただきます。 トイレ、更衣室の入り口でコスプレ登録証を確認させていだくことがございますので、必ず登録証の携帯をお願い致します。 何卒、ご理解ご協力のほど宜しくお願い申し上げます。
A (very) rough translation is as follows:
[With regards to crossdressing] The results we discussed in committee, luckily we are able to cancel the cross-dressing ban. Incidentally, I along with the prohibition cancellation, the issue of the day of the cosplay registration card men and women you will be set for each colour. Toilet, that entertain allowed to check the cosplay registration card at the entrance to the locker room because there is, please be sure of the registration card mobile. Humbly, thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
Essentially, attendees will be assigned different coloured badges based on their true gender, which will be checked at the entrance to event bathrooms. It seems that the main concern of the convention organisers was the risk (imagined or not) that men may have cosplayed as women to get access to the womens’ bathrooms. All attendees will have to bring ID cards to verify their gender, but at least everyone will be able to cosplay as the gender of their choice now.
The Tokyo Comic-Con will feature appearances by Jeremy Renner, Matthew Lewis and Stan Lee.
Additional reporting by Hayley Williams