Also, as a follow-up, is it used solely to refer to MtF trans individuals? From what I've read online in Japanese, that seems to be the case, but I just wanted to confirm. And if so, what is the most common (but PC/inoffensive) way to refer to transgendre individuals in Japan (MtF or FtM)?

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ニューハーフ is an obsolete word that was used mainly in the 80's when no one knew the terms like trans or LGBT. If you used it today, I suppose most people would interpret it as a joke first before thinking about whether it's potentially offensive.

In those days, sex reassignment surgery was almost sci-fi, so the term ニューハーフ usually referred to male individuals on TV who were dressed in female attire and (often excessively) used feminine language such as だわ, かしら and なのよ. So it's more of a character stereotype rather than a specific gender identity. This largely overlaps the type of people called オネエ today.

Today, transgender people are simply called トランス(ジェンダー)男性/女性.

EDIT: According to Wikipedia, the term was first made popular as the catchphrase of Rumiko Matsubara (video in 1981). I personally don't know her, but people I imagine when I hear the word ニューハーフ are people who are more "noticeable" than she is.

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    Actually I've seen a lot people use it themselves on dating apps, and they were pretty young. If they are using it themselves I would guess it is not offensive, but I am not sure it is out of fashion. Aug 4, 2023 at 6:21
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    @FelipeChavesdeOliveira Oh is that so? I never hear this word recently in general online news, so I thought it was obsolete. Looks like there are various opinions on the net. Anyway, similarly to ハーフ, the word itself isn't derogatory, but I wouldn't be surprised if some people dislike it.
    – naruto
    Aug 4, 2023 at 7:06
  • I agree that トランスジェンダー seems to be of better taste overall, but it seems that ニューハーフ is still used a lot. Maybe it is ok for you to say if you are yourself, but not for someone who isn't transgender to use it. But I am not so sure, I am just speculating. Aug 4, 2023 at 7:11
  • はるな愛 (1972) is described as a ニューハーフタレント in Wikipedia, but the articles of 椿彩奈 (1984), IVAN (1984), ryuchell (1995) do not contain ニューハーフ, so I feel most people basically stopped calling them ニューハーフ at around 2000.
    – naruto
    Aug 4, 2023 at 7:17
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    For the record, the context in which I (person who asked the question) heard it was in Shinya Shokudo (released in 2009) S1EP03 (at the beginning), said by the extremely progressive and accepting (though middle-aged) chef at the shokudou.
    – chausies
    Aug 4, 2023 at 14:28

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