Hello, my name is Fuyumi Yamamoto.

I’m a representative from Deaf LGBTQ Center in Japan.



Do you know the word “Deaf”?


There are various Deaf people. Some are late-deafened, some are hard of hearing, and some are born Deaf. According to a research from Japanese Ministry of Health, 0.3% of population are Deaf people who has physical disability certificate. But some people did not register as Deaf. If more did, then the percentage could be higher.


Do you know the word “LGBTQ”?

LGBTQ means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. Queer means people who don’t identify as a man nor a woman or who don’t adhere to stereotypes of genders or heteronormativity.


I’m Deaf and queer. I’m a minority in both hearing world and heteronormative world.

I grew up with Deaf parents. Because my parents use Japanese Sign Language, JSL is my first language.


Me, studying in US


Also, when I was in high school, I’ve realized that I'm not attracted to men. In the Deaf community, people assume you are heterosexual. I couldn't talk to anyone about my romantic feeling toward women. For example, there are derogative signs that mean “homo,” “fag,” and “dyke.” I often saw these discriminative signs in my daily life. I knew that people didn’t do that to hurt me on purpose, but I felt they are looking down on me. It was really difficult.


At that time, there were only degrading signs for LGBTQ terms. There were no appropriate signs for LGBTQ. I started deaf LGBTQ Center in May 2014. The first project was publishing a booklet which is titled “Deaf LGBT Support Booklet”. The goal was to spread appropriate signs for deaf LGBTQ people to use. That way, they can express themselves confidently. The booklet shows many new signs with pictures. We distributed it for free.


I'm going to publish the new version of the booklet by adding the latest information that I got from studying abroad. Please donate to us to help to distribute booklets for free!!


※Former “Deaf LGBT Support Booklet” is available from this page.



Former “Deaf LGBT Support Booklet”


Please check our movie of this project!!


Why do we need the booklet for Deaf LGBTQ people?

You can find many LGBTQ books or leaflets in book stores. However, there is no information about LGBTQ in the sign language dictionaries. In Deaf community, people are still using discriminatory signs for LGBTQ, even in sign language classes.

Many deaf LGBTQ people are hesitate to get involved in the hearing LGBTQ community because of language barrier. Many can’t attend the lectures about LGBTQ issues due to lack of sign language interpreters. For some people whose first language is sign language and are not good at reading, it’s difficult for them to get an access to LGBTQ information.

As a Deaf LGBTQ person, I could not find a safe space in the hearing LGBTQ community nor in the Deaf community. This is the reason why I made this booklet. I strongly felt that we need to raise both communities' awareness about correct information and signs for LGBTQ related words and issues.


What are the main points of this new version of the booklet?

After the booklet was first printed, we got overwhelming demands for these booklets from various people, such as sign language interpreters, educational institutions, and organizations all over Japan. Six thousands of the first copies ran out quickly. So, thanks to generous donations, we reprinted 10 thousands more copies. Demands were still high so now we only have few booklets left.


I stayed in San Francisco and Washington DC in United States. for two years to study Deaf LGBTQ cultures and American LGBTQ movement. What I learned is that we should increase opportunities and exposures for people to learn about diversity of human sexuality and gender. Just not only for LGBTQ people but also people who are not LGBTQ nor Deaf. The booklet we currently have is designed for only Deaf LGBTQ people. I feel the urgent need to make more inclusive material for allies, such as sign language interpreters and hearing LGBTQ people.


Right now, the diversity is needed in the Japanese Sign Language

When Deaf transgender person requests sign language interpreters for medical procedures, sign language interpreters often refuse because of their lack of knowledge about LGBTQ. Sometimes it's not easy for Deaf transgender people to communicate with doctors by writing. It's disappointing that sign language interpreters often don’t know LGBTQ terms and/or often use discriminatory signs.


In the Japanese Sign Language, there are some signs that strongly adhere to gender binary. For example, the sign for man is a thumb up. The sign for woman is sticking the little finger up. The sign for marriage is moving thumb on one hand and little finger on other hand together.


These are taught in sign language schools and classes without teaching additional signs that are LGBTQ-related.

I'm going to add many new signs that allow us to express variations of genders and sexualities such as pansexual, X gender, and ally.


(Left) the sign of "pansexual" (Right) the sign of "X gender"
the sign of "Ally"


Deaf people cannot live without sign language interpreters.

Communicating with partner, talking with parents, chatting with friends, learning something new, traveling somewhere, and so on: all of these things could not happen without sign language interpreters. They are essential part of life for the deaf people. In daily lives, most of Deaf people’s communication is done with hearing people. When we want to tell them important things or want to receive their messages clearly, we need interpreters. If there’s no interpreters, there could be a problem or misunderstanding between Deaf and hearing people.


Reducing painful experience by replacing derogatory signs for LGBTQ.

A research has proven that the risk of suicide in gay and bisexual men are about 6 times than national average. I lost a transgender friend who committed suicide. We are hurt by constant discrimination in daily life. Experiencing these pain again and again took a heavy toll on us. I don't want to lose friends ever again.


My hope is that Deaf LGBTQ people would be able to express their feelings and tell their thoughts to people around them through sign language without the fear of discrimination. I hope that allies would use appropriate LGBTQ signs and be able to support the LGBTQ Deaf people.

I believe that this booklet will help to make a safer environment for all people who use sign language, to make them more comfortable and confident. The booklet will enlighten not only Deaf people but also hearing people like interpreters who often work with or are around Deaf people in daily life.


Lecture presentation held in Toronto, Canada.



Once the Crowdfunding has completed, we are going to send out the second edition in March 2018. You can see contents below.

Contents ※As a draft

  • New LGBTQ related signs
  • Basic knowledge about gender identities and sexual orientations
  • A report about Gallaudet University in U.S.
  • A report on 3rd Deaf LGBTQ national conference in Japan
  • An article by an ally titled “How to Support Deaf LGBTQ people”
  • An interview with a film maker
  • Information on Deaf LGBTQ friendly shops and restaurants

※Compiled under the supervision of "New C Team

「New C Team」 http://rupan4th.sugoihp.com




I need your help.

Thank you for your generous support & donation!


山本 芙由美


Page editing supported by Waka Kobayashi