Written, Illustrated and Screen-Captured by Koriander Bullard
Last week, an episode of Sailor Moon Crystal marked a turning point for the series, as they revealed that Sailor Uranus is not actually a female, but is "Transgender" in the way that she was born with both male and female genitalia, but she can switch between the two genders at will. This is why her girlfriend, Sailor Neptune, can alternate between calling her as a "she" or a "he" at will in every other episode.
Those who read the original manga, which was first put into graphic novel format in 1995 in Japan, and then translated in English in 2000 and again in 2012, already knew about Sailor Uranus and her dual gender, and were just happy that unlike 1994's Sailor Moon S anime which saw Uranus as a female only, in Sailor Moon Crystal, Uranus, known also under the name Haruka Tenoh, is finally being showcased as a strong, transgender teenager who is satisfied with the way she was born.
However, newer fans of the series lost their minds on Twitter and Facebook, unable to accept the fact that Haruka's gender has been altered to match the original manga instead of the more popular 90's anime. Some say the term is wrong for her, and that a softer term, such as "Gender Fluid" should be used instead.
And it goes without saying that Conservatives are sharing a group-coronary over the issue, but this comes as no shock, considering that the current season is based on the Infinity Arc, which features heavier and darker overtones. Infinity and Sailor Moon S both feature new character Sailor Saturn being accused of being the Deity or Messiah of Destruction, and Sailor Moon needing to acquire the Holy Grail in order to save the world. Add to it a Transgender and more than one new lesbian character, and we have a show fit to be crucified on the 700 Club.
Another group of fans in a tizzy today are fans of the Toonami edit of Sailor Moon S. Back between 1999 and 2000, Cartoon Network and YTV Canada aired a watered down edit of Sailor Moon S, in which Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were still allowed to be touchy-feely with each other, but were edited as "cousins" who touch each other, rather than lesbians…… because according to Cloverway, the now defunct Toei Animation subsidiary responsible for the change, cousins touching each other is more "kid friendly" than lesbians touching each other. Sense made? None.
But getting back on track, the subject of Haruka's gender has been the source of confusion for years, not because of what she is, but by what name is socially acceptable.
Back in 1994/1995 when the original manga was drawn, Haruka was known as a "Hermaphrodite" which is a medical term for those who are born with both male and female genitals. But by 1999, the term Hermaphrodite started creeping up in songs and TV shows on MTV as a slur, meaning someone who is "stupid" because of their dual-gender nature. Other medical terms such as "midget" and "retard" also became slurs on the trash television network, prompting public outcries. All three medical terms while still used in hospitals the world over, are now banned from daytime TV due to trolling.
A few years ago, the term "Transgender" started being used to explain both people who are in the process of changing genders and those who are born as both a man and a woman, while "Gender Fluid" is a relatively new term meaning those who are still questioning their sexuality, identity or those who do not wish to have a title put upon their gender at all.
Haruka's character is not questioning herself at all.
When she is on the race track or at school, she chooses to be seen as a boy, and wants others to address her as such. She is comfortable in the role of a man in these two, mostly male-dominated areas.
When she is Sailor Uranus or relaxing, she is fine with being seen as a girl and is fine with being called as such.
She chooses her gender based on role, and is perfectly comfortable in her own skin as either gender. She is confident in herself, her choice and in how she sees herself, and her girlfriend is always first to comply with calling her as a "he" or a "she" depending on whatever Haruka has chosen for that day.
The other characters as this episode seem fine with Haruka's duel-gender nature, and literally no questions have popped up about it since.
Her transformation scenes only show her female side, as it is still heavily frowned upon in Japan to draw male genitalia on any character who appears as an adult or late-teen, and so far, every nude shot has also been drawn from her feminine side, but in all other segments, her gender is addressed based on her choice and not by how anybody else feels about it.
Sailor Uranus has always been a strong character for the LBGTQ community, but as of today, even more so. Those who are not flipping out over her newly restored gender role are embracing her.
Koriander Bullard is an author, cartoonist and human rights advocate. Keep up with her on Facebook!