Created By: Harpdiscord on February 2, 2012 Last Edited By: Agares on February 10, 2014
Nuked

Otherwordly And Sexually Ambiguous

A god, demon, or otherwise otherworldly being or creature who is both male and female. Or neither.

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Trope
Whenever you see a demon, god, or someone or something else otherworldly you'd expect it to be easy to tell if it is a man or a woman. But when he/she/it has qualities of both? Can change from one to another with neither being the confirmed default? Or lacks qualities from both? He/She/It is Otherwordly And Sexually Ambiguous.

There might be reasons why or how the demon, spirit, etc., is a hermaphrodite, can change sex, etc., be it either magical corruption, or the creators didn't want to give the character a definitive sex, so they made him/her/it ambiguous.

See also No Biological Sex, Hermaphrodite, Voluntary Shapeshifting and Ambiguous Gender.

Anime and Manga
  • In Devilman, Satan is shown to be a hermaphrodite.
  • Ashura, the god of war from RG Veda, justified as it's the result of a curse that will keep the Ashura clan from continuing, and he's actually treated as both male and female in the series.
  • Apos from Mnemosyne. It is unclear what the hell s/he is, but s/he apparently has two sets of genitalia.
  • The goddess Kanzeon Bosatsu from Saiyuki is a female-presenting hermaphrodite, as noted by the author in a between-chapters illustration.

Comic Books
  • Desire from The Sandman. Because they are the personification of lust, Desire can be a man, woman, or both, depending on whom the viewer finds the most attractive.
  • In Miracle Man, the alien Warpsmiths are multi-dimensional, and ultimately genderless beings, who have sex in ways that defy anything resembling biology on Earth.

Film
  • Satan in The Passion of the Christ is portrayed by a woman with a shaved head and a voice altered to sound more masculine in post-production.
  • Tilda Swinton played the Archangel Gabriel in Constantine.
  • Gozer the Gozerian, the Sumerian god from Ghostbusters, in the final confrontation. The boys are surprised that s/he's a "girl", but clearly s/he is both.
    Ray: It's a girl.
    Egon: It's Gozer.
    Winston: I thought Gozer was a man.
    Egon: It's whatever it wants to be.
    Peter: Well, whatever it is, it's gotta get by us.
    Ray: Right!

Literature
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, one of the faces of the Faith of the Seven, called The Stranger, is neither male nor female and signifies death.
  • Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away. Roze-Kattee, the God of Love and Madness, is a hemaphrodite with a hideous appearance: a humanoid covered with shaggy, coarse hair, blazing yellow-white eyes brighter than daylight and pointed ears.
  • In The Dark Tower, the demon who had sex with Roland in the first book and raped Susannah in the third book could change sexes.
  • In Good Omens, it is stated that angels and demons are normally sexless, unless they really want not to be. Both otherworldly protagonists take the form of human males, though.

Live-Action TV
  • The Metrons in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Arena" were like this; they had an androgynous appearance and wore a shimmering dress-like garment.

Mythology and Religion
  • Satan in Tarot Motifs is depicted as being a hermaphrodite.
  • Although the Judeo-Christian God is usually referred to by male personal pronouns, this is more convention than canon. Several Biblical verses show God identifying with roles which western culture would generally consider feminine. Most languages (English included) do not have any gender-neutral personal pronouns and God was referred to as "He" because most societies in which the Bible was written were patriarchal.
  • Inari Okami, the Shinto God of fertility, rice, agriculture, foxes, industry and worldly success, is generally considered to be neither male nor female, though like YHWH, masculine or feminine aspects are often emphasized depending on the context and the region. This is true for many other Kami as well.

Tabletop Games
  • Not surprisingly, Dungeons & Dragons has a few, notably:
    • Demogorgon, AKA the Prince of Demons, is a hermaphrodite. He also looks like a two - headed monkey with tentacles for arms.
    • Malcanthet, AKA the Succubus Queen. Malcanthet uses illusion, pheremones, etc., to make herself attractive to beings of all species and sexes, but some know her true nature and seek her out for that.
    • Elven deities
      • Corellon Larethian is the leader of the elvish pantheon. He is known to appear in both male and female forms.
      • Hanali Celanil normally appears as a female, but has appeared as a male on rare occasions.
      • Labelas Enoreth can appear as male, female, both or neither.
    • The gnome deity Urdlen appears as a huge mole that is neuter and sexless.
    • The Book of Erotic Fantasy, a much-maligned Open Game License splat adding rules for sex to Dungeons & Dragons, has the deity of passion and lust as a hermaphrodite.
    • Dragon magazine #34 "Choir Practice at the First Church of Lawful Evil (Orthodox): The ramifications of alignment". Several deities fit this trope: Cyrullia, who appears as a beautiful hemaphrodite, Slarsken Obel who appears as a man most of the time but as a women in matriarchal societies, and Demyuritas, who appears as a stunningly beautiful youth who can be either male or female.
    • 1st Edition Dragon Lance Adventures supplement. The section "Gender and the Gods" says that it's not entirely clear which gender each of the deities is because legends speak of them appearing as either gender at different times. For example, Takhisis is said to appear as the female Dark Temptress or the male Dark Warrior.
  • Warhammer 40,000. The Chaos God Slaneesh has a nasty habit of sending haemaphroditic deamons at people. Not to mention being one itself.
  • Role Aids supplement Witches. The Powers worshipped by Faerie witches can appear as either male or female. In their true form they are neither.

Video Games
  • Accoring to Word of God, demons in Diablo are genderless.
  • The Despair Embodied in Devil May Cry 2 is able to freely shapeshift between a male and female form.
  • Satan in the current art in the Shin Megami Tensei series has clearly visible breasts, despite otherwise being masculine.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, Serenade.EXE, an otherwise normal Net Navi, looks the part, likely to emphasis hir "holy/angelic" feature (and not to mention hir vast powers). Greatly enhanced in the manga adaptation.
  • While all of the Daedra princes (a loose analog of Demon Lords And Archdevils, only with Blue And Orange Morality) from The Elder Scrolls universe lack a default sex, most do appear as one specific sex. Except for Boethiah and Mephala, who have both been described as being hermaphrodites.
  • The Cloud of Darkness from Final Fantasy III. As Zidane says in Dissidia:
    Zidane: "Well, she is a lady... I guess?"

Webcomics

Western Animation

Real Life
  • The medieval Templar order of knights was disbanded and its leaders burnt for heresy due to allegations they really worshiped such a demon, one Baphomet, whose statues and representations conveniently turned up for the trial depicting a horned demon with beard, tits and an erection that would have pleased erection-fanciers everywhere. It is said that Baphomet, or the qualities he/she/it symbolizes, are still held in esteem by some higher degrees of Freemasonry.

Community Feedback Replies: 70
  • February 2, 2012
    FailcopterWes
    Warhammer 40000 - The Chaos God Slaneesh has a nasty habit of sending haemaphroditic deamons at people. Not to mention being one itself.
  • February 2, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Tabletop Games:
    • Not surprisingly, Dungeons And Dragons has a few, notably:
      • Demogorgon, AKA the Prince of Demons, is a hermaphrodite. He also looks like a two - headed monkey with tentacles for arms.
      • Malcanthet, AKA the Succubus Queen. Malcanthet uses illusion, pheremones, etc., to make herself attractive to beings of all species and sexes, but some know her true nature and seek her out for that.
  • February 2, 2012
    aurora369
    Several Daedric Princes (a loose analog of Demon Lords And Archdevils, only with Blue And Orange Morality) from The Elder Scrolls universe, such as Boethiah and Mephala. Gender is a purely aesthetic choice for them, but most stick to normal. Not these.
  • February 3, 2012
    AgProv
    Real Life/Older Than Steam: the mediaeval Templar order of knights was disbanded and its leaders burnt for heresy due to allegations they really worshipped such a demon, one Baphomet, whose statues and representations conveniently turned up for the trial depicting a horned demon with beard, tits and an erection that would have pleased erection-fanciers everywhere. Modern history leans towards the idea the Templars were fitted up by a French king and a Catholic church, who looked on the loot and land the knights had amassed with covetuous eyes and who agreed on fitting them up as heretics and blasphemers in return for a fifty-fifty split. Jacques deMolay, head of the order, cursed the Kings of France and the Church during weeks of agonising torture. He vowed the last king of France would die in exactly the same way in which he, deMolay, met his end. De Molay was beheaded. Several hundred years later at the guillotine where Louis XVI met his death, a voice in the crowd was heard to break the silence: "Jacques deMolay, thou art avenged!"

    The Catholic Church, the other entity cursed by deMolay, is yet to fall....

    It is said that Baphomet, or the qualities he/she/it symbolises, are still held in esteem by some higher degrees of Freemasonry.
  • February 3, 2012
    reub2000
    Can we go with "Androgynous Demon"?
  • February 3, 2012
    Koveras
    • Apos from Mnemosyne. It is unclear what the hell s/he is, but s/he apparently has two sets of genitalia.
  • February 4, 2012
    Arivne
    If this were expanded to any powerful hemaphroditic being:

    Literature
    • Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away. Roze-Kattee, the God of Love and Madness, is a hemaphrodite with a hideous appearance: a humanoid covered with shaggy, coarse hair, blazing yellow-white eyes brighter than daylight and pointed ears.
  • June 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • June 26, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • In Tarot The Devil is often portrayed as a hermaphrodite.
  • June 27, 2013
    DRCEQ
    @reub2000:

    "Androgyny" implies more-so that you can't identify what gender it is, not that it has both genders.
  • June 27, 2013
    Astaroth
    The Despair Embodied in Devil May Cry 2 is able to freely shapeshift between a male and female form.
  • June 27, 2013
    Larkmarn
    ... people know that "Hats = Ready to be published," right? As in no errors, examples are in there, good description and grammar... this should not have any hats.
  • June 27, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Larkmarn, please. You know very well, that we know absolutely nothing.

    Just as a side note: I wonder why I've for some time been unable to remove hats?

    EDIT: You could add to the description that another reason for this trope might be to invoke Uncanny Valley. After all, hermaphrodites are usually considered somewhat unnatural, which can serve to make a demon even more inhuman.
  • June 27, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Yeah, I've been unable to remove hats myself.
  • June 28, 2013
    snecko
    In A Song Of Ice And Fire, one of the faces of the Faith of the Seven, called The Stranger, is neither male nor female and signifies death.
  • June 28, 2013
    TooBah
    Gozer the Gozerian, the Sumerian god from Ghostbusters, in the final confrontation. The boys are surprised that s/he's a "girl", but clearly s/he is both.
    Ray: It's a girl.
    Egon: It's Gozer.
    Winston: I thought Gozer was a man.
    Egon: It's whatever it wants to be.
    Peter: Well, whatever it is, it's gotta get by us.
    Ray: Right!
  • June 28, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^^ A reminder: "hermaphrodite" does not mean "neither male nor female", it means "both male and female".

    Hmm. What about the name Humanoid Hermaphrodite? For example, a revelation that Starfish Aliens are hermaphroditic would hardly qualify as a surprise considering the precedent already established by their ... starfish-ness.
  • June 28, 2013
    StarSword
    ^We already have a trope for Hermaphrodite.

    Feel free to disallow this one; I dunno what the P5 guys would say about the source material.

    Tabletop Games:
  • June 28, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    Yubel of Yugioh GX if both a hermaphrodite and a Fiend-type monster (Japanese audio only, due to the dub's Bowdlerization)
  • June 29, 2013
    Synchronicity
    Comic Books
    • Desire from The Sandman, sometimes. Because they are the personification of lust, Desire can be a man, woman, or both, depending on whom the viewer finds the most attractive.
  • July 2, 2013
    Generality
    Okay, let's clarify here.

    Does this trope apply only to hermaphrodites, beings which have both sets of sexual organs, or does it include sexless beings, with no sexual organs, and androgynes, who are one sex but have an ambiguous appearance?
  • July 3, 2013
    SharleeD
    Also, is it necessary that they be both sexes at once, like an earthworm, or would a shape-changer that can assume either gender's form at will also qualify?
  • July 3, 2013
    xanderiskander
    I'm going to second a name change to something like Androgynous Demon. Because I don't think the term Hermaphrodite is being used correctly here. This seems to mostly be about the ambiguity of the character's gender.(And if it's not. Having to know what their naughty bits are is going to be a pretty rare/ridiculous requirement to satisfy.) And a hermaphrodite does not automatically equal foreshadowing gender ambiguity. Androdgynous is just overall a better term.

    I'd also say Him from The Powerpuff Girls is this trope. Him's a Sissy Villain with a demonic red appearance, a goatee and claws for hands. With all Him's different androdgynous features and inflections Him's meant to be really creepy.
  • July 4, 2013
    DAN004
    So would we lump "androgynous" together with "hermaphrodite", "sexless", and "sex-changeable"?
  • July 4, 2013
    MorganWick
    Now the word I have the most problem with is "yet", because it implies this is unusual for otherworldly characters.
  • July 4, 2013
    xanderiskander
    @DAN 004: I wouldn't say so. Being both or neither doesn't automatically mean they have to appear gender ambiguous. And if they're supposed to be Androgynous it's going to be left intentionally vague whether they're a hermaphrodite, sexless or whichever. I think this should be about the supernatural character/god/demon's appearance, and manner of speaking, and what that's being played for.
  • July 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Okay then :)
    • In Mega Man Battle Network, Serenade.EXE, an otherwise normal Net Navi, looks the part, likely to emphasis hir "holy/angelic" feature (and not to mention hir vast powers). Greatly enhanced in the manga adaptation.
  • July 8, 2013
    Duncan
    If we're going with Androgyny and not actual hermaphroditism...

  • July 8, 2013
    xanderiskander
    And it's been changed to another bad name... Androgynous already meant having the characteristics of female and male. It also means sexual ambiguity. The problem people had was with the word "yet" in the title.

    You know what why don't we just come up with some alternate names and make a crowner?

    Maybe we should make this Up For Grabs too because it's been abandoned by it's sponsor for at least a year. And then work on the description. Which is also pretty awkward and needs to be fleshed out so it says what this trope is supposed to portray to the audience. It also needs to remove a lot of references to hermaphroditism in favor of Androdgyny, and ambiguousness.
  • July 8, 2013
    MetaFour
    In the Time Patrol novel The Shield of Time, Manse Everard tries to manipulate the 12th century Italian knight Lorenzo de Conti by disguising himself as an angel. Lorenzo is skeptical, and he cops a feel of Manse's crotch to confirm those suspicions--it was common knowledge back then that angels didn't have sex organs.
  • July 9, 2013
    DAN004
    Would this be related to Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism?
  • July 9, 2013
    Duncan
    Some of these may be No Biological Sex.
  • July 15, 2013
    Earnest
  • July 20, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • July 30, 2013
    Pig_catapult
    Transcendantgender?

    . . . perhaps that's a little too punny.
  • August 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Does this count?
    • In the Earths Children series hermaphroditic people are considered to be "blessed by the Great Earth Mother" and often become spiritual leaders.
  • August 10, 2013
    Raconteur
    I just got to say I flipping love the name Transcendantgender...even if it's a little cumbersome...
  • August 14, 2013
    Melkior
    Mythology and Religion
    • Although the Judeo-Christian God is usually referred to by male personal pronouns, this is more convention than canon. Several Biblical verses show God identifying with roles which western culture would generally consider feminine. Most languages (English included) do not have any gender-neutral personal pronouns and God was referred to as "He" because most societies in which the Bible was written were patriarchal.
  • August 14, 2013
    Snicka
    Hermaphroditus from Greco-Roman mythology, whose name is the origin of the word Hermaphrodite.

    I also don't get why "yet" is in the trope's name; it sounds as if it was contradictory to be otherwordly and sexually ambiguous, while in fact it is a really common way to portray transcendant beings.
  • August 14, 2013
    DAN004
  • August 15, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Corellon Larethian is the leader of the elvish pantheon. He is known to appear in both male and female forms.
  • August 18, 2013
    bwayrose7
    Illyria from Angel might count as well. It's the demon god-king without a particularly specified gender, but its human host at the time is a female body.
  • August 24, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Role Aids supplement Witches. The Powers worshipped by Faerie witches can appear as either male or female. In their true form they are neither.
  • September 23, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Western Animation
  • September 25, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Okay, a lot of the terms being thrown around here to describe someone without a discernible gender are just plain incorrect. "Transcendantgender" is obviously a play on "transgender", which refers to a person whose gender identity does not match their biological sex. This has nothing to do with appearing androgynous. Similarly, "genderqueer" refers to gender identity, not appearance. Unless the alien actually has a conversation with someone about identifying as non-binary, you don't get to call them genderqueer just because you can't tell their gender by looking at them. These terms are not interchangeable, and their misuse can be very offensive.

    If you're talking strictly about presentation of characteristics of multiple genders, "androgynous" is the word you are looking for. "Hermaphrodite" refers to an organism that has reproductive structures associated with both male and female physical sexes, and as previously stated, we already have a trope for that. Finally, beings with No Biological Sex may or may not have a gender identity, and this gender identity may or may not be readily discernible. A case where "no biological sex" does not equal "ambiguous gender" would be a being that looks like a pile of rocks but goes by the name "Rosie", prefers "she/her" pronouns, and generally identifies as female.

    Whew. Sorry for the long post, but this sort of thing is really important to many people and it is good to be aware of the meanings of the terms you are using.
  • September 29, 2013
    JonnyB
    The Metrons in the Star Trek The Original Series episode, "Arena" were like this; they had an androgynous appearance and wore a shimmering dress-like garment.
  • October 4, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ well put. from what it is now you seem to be right, so... Otherwordly Androgenous Being?
  • October 5, 2013
    MonaNaito
    ^Someone a while ago mentioned Androgynous Alien, which I liked for its Added Alliterative Appeal. I understand if people are worried that the trope would be misconstrued as only applying to extraterrestrials, but personally I think it's valid to describe demons, spirits etc. as "alien".
  • October 5, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Dragon magazine #34 "Choir Practice at the First Church of Lawful Evil (Orthodox): The ramifications of alignment". Several deities fit this trope: Cyrullia, who appears as a beautiful hemaphrodite, Slarsken Obel who appears as a man most of the time but as a women in matriarchal societies, and Demyuritas, who appears as a stunningly beautiful youth who can be either male or female.
  • October 5, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ which is why i used "being".
  • October 6, 2013
    Brainhook
    Video Games
    • Many Legendary Pokemon do not appear to have a physical sex. Even those few that have a gender are incapable of breeding. (With the exception of genderless Manaphy, that can breed with Ditto to produce Phione.)
  • October 8, 2013
    KarjamP
    Both Hermaphrodite (which describes the "both male and female" part) and No Biological Sex (which describes the "neither" part) describes this trope exactly.

    Only, they aren't limited to celestial beings of any kind.
  • October 8, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Here, it's discussed on why celestial beings are portrayed as either Hermaphrodite or have No Biological Sex. It's a subtrope of both.
  • October 8, 2013
    MonaNaito
    ^^It also applies to otherwordly beings who are not hermaphrodites and may have a biological sex—but you can't tell from looking. For instance, a work in which you have both male and female angels, but they all look like people of similar stature in white robes with shaved heads and no Secondary Sexual Characteristics.
  • October 31, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work titles and added some examples.
  • December 13, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh

  • December 18, 2013
    dandyman
    Anime and Manga
    • Ashura, the god of war from RG Veda, justified as it's the result of a curse that will keep the Ashura clan from continuing, and he's actually treated as both male and female in the series.
  • December 20, 2013
    DracMonster
    • Desire, from The Sandman is androgynous, since he/she represents male and female sexuality. And being a vain, selfish prick.
  • December 20, 2013
    Boston
    If being from outer space counts as "otherworldly" (and why shouldn't it?), then I think David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" character and Dr. Frank N Furter from "The Rocky Horror Show" (explicitly a transvestite from Transexual, Translyvania) both count.
  • December 22, 2013
    OmniValor
    How about just "It's Gozer" for the title, could be the Trope Namer
  • December 22, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^Omni Valor — terrible case of Fan Myopia you have there. that's pure Trope Namer Syndrome as the name is completely non-indicative.
  • December 22, 2013
    OmniValor
    Hmmm.... indeed
  • December 24, 2013
    Grey
    The goddess Kanzeon Bosatsu from Saiyuki is a female-presenting hermaphrodite, as noted by the author in a between-chapters illustration.
  • December 25, 2013
    AP
    • In Miracle Man, the alien Warpsmiths are multi-dimensional, and ultimately genderless beings, who have sex in ways that defy anything resembling biology on Earth.
  • December 26, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • 1st Edition Dragon Lance Adventures supplement. The section "Gender and the Gods" says that it's not entirely clear which gender each of the deities is because legends speak of them appearing as either gender at different times. For example, Takhisis is said to appear as the female Dark Temptress or the male Dark Warrior.
  • December 26, 2013
    Druplesnubb
    I think the real life example should be cut down to just the one or two first sentences. The rest sounds really interesting and all, but it looks like it would fit better on another page. Probably one about revenge or ironic deaths or something.
  • January 20, 2014
    zarpaulus
    Webcomics
  • January 22, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    • In the film of A Wrinkle In Time, the Happy Medium is played by a man but dresses like a woman and is referred to as "she" by one of the witches. However, when pressed about gender the Medium specifically is, it gets fussy and claims to be above that kind of nonsense. (In the book, the Medium is an unambiguous she.)
  • February 4, 2014
    Polarbear2217
    In The Dark Tower, the demon who had sex with Roland in the first book and raped Susannah in the third book could change sexes.
  • February 10, 2014
    Mamona
    Literature
    • In Good Omens, it is stated that angels and demons are normally sexless, unless they really want not to be. Both otherworldly protagonists take the form of human males, though.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=brl1icns98jre54ayyli5ivg&trope=OtherwordlyAndSexuallyAmbiguous