(Please note: for the sake of clarity and consistency, I’ll be referring to Ruka as “he/him.” Obviously the topic of Ruka’s sex and gender will be discussed plenty, later on.)
Welcome to another anime rant! Today we’ll learn some things about gender identity terms, using the character Ruka as an example. Ruka or Luka is a character from the anime masterpiece Steins;Gate. I like all the characters in this show and I have trouble deciding on which I like best. But Ruka has always been highly interesting to me. This post is only focused on discussions of Ruka’s sex and gender identity, since embarking on detailed character study overall is a little much for me at present.
First, let me explain my stance on gender identity and related topics. I always try to be an ally to individuals of nontraditional or complex identities. But I’m not always right about what’s the best or correct terminology. Bear with me.
Biological sex is an unchangeable trait relative to flexible concepts of identity. Broadly speaking, sex is either male or female. But whether delineated by reproductive organs, chromosomes, or whatever else, sex does not dictate identity. And sex doesn’t dictate masculinity or femininity, either. You can have a dick and be a woman, if that’s who you are. You can have a vagina and be a man, if that’s who you are. You can be distinctly physically typical of your sex but have a non-binary identity. Or you can be intersex and choose to be decidedly one gender. Whatever the case, you are not your sex.
Why was that relevant? Well, besides being a good opportunity to learn some terms, examining this topic can lead to deeper appreciation of Ruka. So, what is Ruka’s biological sex? What is Ruka’s gender? Does he view himself as a woman? How does he want others to view him? Does he desire or would he prefer the body of a biological female? We’ll cover all these things starting now.
Steins;Gate makes it painfully clear that Ruka is an “otoko,” meaning male/man. There is evidence of this besides just Okabe and company repeatedly saying “he’s a dude.” When Ruka’s D-mail changes the world line to one where she was born female, Okabe is incredulous. He doesn’t believe Ruka is a girl until he, well, confirms it by feeling her crotch. (By the way — that’s not ok.) But this implies that biologically, the Ruka we know is male, or at least has male reproductive organs.
The question here, though, is whether Ruka personally identifies as a male. It’s hard to tell since the anime doesn’t get into it. But it’s clear that Ruka has some dysphoria about his body. We’ll get into that more in the next entry.
Another option is that Ruka is a transgender woman. I’m not sure what the fan base’s consensus would be, but this seems like the best description to me. Ruka dresses in woman’s clothes. When it’s his turn for a D-mail, Ruka’s wish is to be born as biologically female. This is very clear evidence that Ruka identifies as a woman.
Even though Ruka was assigned a male sex, it’s possible that he’s actually intersex. Intersex people are those who don’t fit neatly into either male or female categories. They may have some aspects of both sexes, and this is due to differences in the chromosomes. Intersex people, unfortunately, are often assigned sex at birth depending on their reproductive organs. If Ruka was intersex, it would explain his very feminine build.
Not everyone identifies with any one gender more than another, and some people (Non-binary) don’t subscribe to the view that gender is only two-fold. Or they may change between genders frequently (Gender-fluid). They may see themselves as multiple genders at once (polygender), or as not having a gender at all (Agender/Gender-queer). We can consider Ruka in any of these ways. He dresses femininely, but doesn’t mind being addressed as a male. This could be evidence of him having one of these identities. Still, the show seems to suggest that Ruka is closer to being transgender, mostly due to his wish to be a girl.
When discussing gender identity, sexuality often comes up as well. Ruka is obviously attracted to Okabe. If he still identifies as a male, he could then be considered homosexual, attracted to those of the same sex or gender identity. It’s also possible that he is Androsexual, or specifically attracted to males. The second option is more fitting with what we see in the show.
Hopefully, you’ve learned (or reminded yourself) of some LGBT+ terminology, as well as appreciating Ruka more. I personally see him as a transgender character, though one might be able to argue differently.
Thank you for reading!
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