Leo, also know as Eleonor Kliesen, is a German character who first appears in Tekken 6. When first introduced, Leo is only referred to in gender-neutral terms, as can be seen in the character’s prologue text available here. The character also wears what is often interpreted as gender-neutral clothing. However, in the subsequent game Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Leo is referred to with female pronouns in the character’s ending description (copied here). According to a public talk by one of the game producers, Leo is “a female, actually.” Other sites repeatedly quote Namco representatives as saying Leo’s gender was intentionally ambiguous because they wanted “a character players will love regardless of gender” (this is repeated here, here, here, here, and here, but we have not found the original source of this quote). Another site, however, still refers to Leo as male (linked on this forum, which also includes a lengthy 2009 debate over Leo’s gender).
Leo is voiced by a female voice actor (who also voices the character Ash from the Pokemon animated series). The character can use a sledgehammer (a male item, according to one wiki), but can also use female hair customization options (see here and here). Leo can be affected by moves that only work on male characters, but not those that only work on female characters. Moreover, reportedly in the Tekken 6 designer sketches art book, Leo is listed in the male characters section(see here and here). Here is a detailed analysis of all the factors that can be used to classify Leo as male or female, although the author defers to the producers’ declaration that Leo was at least assigned female at birth.
This video shows the first trailer for Leo. This video shows the Tekken 6 prologue and epilogues for Leo, neither of which indicates Leo’s gender. This video, however, shows the ending video for Leo from Tekken Tag Tournament 2. In the video, Leo’s mother Emma was a supervisor on a project during which “the male specimen, dubbedNT01, died during the experiments at the age of 6.” The pictured child could be Leo (though this is also the game in which Leo’s swimsuit options show the character in a bikini, a female-only option typically).
Given the lack of definitive pronouns, and regardless of Leo’s given name or gender assigned at birth, it seems most reasonable to list Leo as genderqueer or non-binary.
LGBTQ references in this game series:
Poison (in Street Fighter x Tekken, 2012)
- Bellaura. (2013, December 9). Tekken survey: Leo Kliesen is definitely a girl! Deiantart.com. Retrieved from http://bellaura.deviantart.com/journal/TEKKEN-survey-LEO-KLIESEN-IS-DEFINITLY-a-GIRL-400903646
- Games In HD. (2012, August 29). The Value- Tekken 6 Leo Opening & Ending. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xQDIgy9zJI
- Garcia, T. (2012, March 26). A Brief History of Transgender Characters in Video Games [Updated]. https://transgamersociologist.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/a-brief-history-of-transgender-characters-in-video-games/
- Is Leo is a girl, a boy, or metrosexual? (2009, August 27). IGN Forums. http://www.ign.com/boards/threads/is-leo-is-a-girl-a-boy-or-metrosexual.184399089/
- Neil Weaselboots. (2012, September 13). Tekken tag Tournament 2 leo Bikini closeups. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L59R1GTLxns
- Leo. (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.giantbomb.com/leo/3005-2911/
- Leo. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.tekkenzaibatsu.com/tekken6/profile.php?id=leo
- Leo Kliesen. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://tekken.wikia.com/wiki/Leo_Kliesen
- Leo Kliesen. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://eng.tekkenpedia.com/wiki/Leo_Kliesen
- Onizuka4ever. (2011, August 22). Leo’s gender revealed at Tekken BV event. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvzFEKWzN8k
- RajmanGaming HD. (2012, September 11). Tekken tag Tournament 2- ;Leo Ending’ TRUDE-HD QUALITY. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HPwzBNPrnc
- ThePS3GamerGod. (2009, October 20). Tekken 6- Leo Kliesen Trailer. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obFQGrdt-I0
- Transgender and Genderqueer Video Game Characters. (n.d.). BoardGameGeek. Retrieved from http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/194728/transgender-and-genderqueer-video-game-characters
- Villagomes, A. (2013, November 3). 7 Trans-Friendly Video Game Characters. OUT. http://www.out.com/entertainment/popnography/2013/11/03/7-trans-friendly-video-game-characters