Created By: GuesssWho on July 13, 2012

Many Sexes

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Do we actually have a page for creatures with more than two sexes? The links all seem to go to Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism, but it's a very different trope.

Up for Grabs, Do We Have This, Needs Examples
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • July 13, 2012
  • July 13, 2012
    • In Dreamsnake by Vonda N McIntyre the titular dreamsnakes have three sexes.
    • The alien Tralfamadorians in Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut have five sexes, but they're quite fascinated by us humans, who has a never before encountered a species with seven sexes. The five extras can only be perceived by seeing time as another dimension.
  • July 13, 2012
    Stanislaw Lem has a story about aliens who live in lava and have five sexes. No idea what it's called, though. They also put the human protagonist on trial for generic human crimes. It might have also been a dream of his.
  • July 13, 2012
    • In The Space Bar, the Trisecks are a species with three sexes: The female, the "alpha male", and the "beta male".
  • July 13, 2012
    The aversion of this is way too common, due to Human Aliens. We would expect alien and otherworldly creatures to have a wide variety of sex distinctions.
    • In an early episode of Futurama, an annuncer says "ladies and gentlemen and smizmars", impliying that smizmars are a third gender, though later episodes establish "smizmar" as a term for a lover in Amphibiosan culture.
  • July 13, 2012
    Isaac Asimov's book The Gods Themselves has a middle section about a species with three sexes: Rationals, Emotionals, and Paternals.
  • July 13, 2012

    • In the Star Trek Expanded Universe, Species 8472 are supposed to have more than two genders.
    • In one of Kurt Vonnegut's books, the Tralfamadorians are stated to have a radically different concept of gender, and consider humans to have many genders, such as people over sixty, babies, etc...

    Live Action Television

    • In Star Trek canon, there is at least one species of humanoids that appeared in Enterprise- the Vissians- that had three genders.
    • The Tenctonese or "Newcomers" in Alien Nation had two different kinds of male, essentially making them a three-gendered species: one variety of male, the binnaum, was very rare, a small minority in their population, and in high demand due to their necessary role in catalyzing the reproductive process between the female and the gannaum (the other kind of male, which is just as common as the female). Binnaums also were known to have telepathic abilities, and they lived in a kind of religious order type of monastic setting, although a Binnaum could leave if they chose (it happens very rarely).
  • July 13, 2012
    @/Nimmer Still: Aliens having two sexes makes a lot more sense than a lot of other similarities to humans they tend to have; after all, damn near every animal on the planet has exactly two sexes. More sexes would needlessly complicate breeding and make it harder for the species to grow and thrive.

    Part of the reason for the misuse for Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism may be the Bizarre Sexual Polymorphism redirect, but I could have sworn we had this already, and not as Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism either; I think I may have picked up the content of the above paragraph from whatever it was. Did BSP used to be its own trope? Am I thinking of Bizarre Alien Reproduction, Extra Parent Conception, or this apparently-unlaunched YKTTW?
  • July 13, 2012
    ^As far as I've read, the binary sex distinction on Earth evolved only once, and then just propogated throughout all of the eukaryote kingdoms. The functions and differences vary, but the core goes back to a common origin. So it's not a case where repeated evolutionary experiments have shown that two sexes is the way to go. So that still leaves it open that life on other worlds would be different.

    And further, even if aliens should tend to have *two* sexes, there's no reason it should tend to be the *same* two, i.e. a case where it should be so obvious that we could call one "male" and the other "female", which is almost always the case, in addition to human-like sexual dimorphism, such as stronger males, which isn't even universal on our planet.

    Also, sexual reproduction is evolutionarily advantageous on Earth because it enhanves genetic diversity, but there's no reason the genetics of aliens should work the same way.

    However, you're right that it's far from the most egregious Human Aliens subtrope.
  • July 14, 2012
    ^^ @Morgan Wick: You think we have this already because a trope proposal once on YKTTW ("Bizarre Alien Sexes") included the "more than two sexes" bit.

    Many of its examples were taken from Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism.

    OP Guesss Who: you could mine that YKTTW for any examples you don't have yet.