With your sexy lady-bits, and your sexy man-bits too
For most fictional purposes a hermaphrodite is an individual that's both male and female; specifically, one that has both male and female genitals. Biologists don't use the word that way, but we are talking about storytelling here, not biology. In real life, however, applying the term to a human is not only inaccurate, but likely stigmatizing and offensive. While sexually ambiguous humans do
exist, a true human hermaphrodite has yet to be found, so the term you're probably looking for is "intersex"
The word Hermaphrodite comes from the Greek deity Hermaphroditus. This child of Hermes and Aphrodite was born a hermaphrodite according to Diodorus Siculus (1st century BCE).
According to Ovid he was a very handsome young man with whom the nymph Salmacis fell madly in love. He rejected her advances, but Salmacis clung to him and prayed fervently to never be parted from him. The gods granted her prayer
by merging the two of them into a single being
, half male and half female. Be Careful What You Wish For
Hermaphrodites tend to pop up in hentai anime
(where it's called futanari
, literally "dual form"), western erotic comics, and Science Fiction
erotica. Sometimes entire alien species or fantasy races are hermaphroditic One Gender Races
, thanks to Bizarre Alien Sexes
. Hermaphroditism is also a popular way to explain Mr. Seahorse
See also Fetish Fuel
, Gender Bender
, Wrong Genetic Sex
, and No Biological Sex
. If said character is highly sought after, see Everybody Wants the Hermaphrodite
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Anime and Manga
- Word of God confirmed in Dragon Ball that the Namekian race (including Piccolo), are Hermaphrodites with a male-ish physique.
- Apos, the Big Bad of Mnemosyne is intersex, which in that universe is very handy as it gives him/her Immortality (a female only ability) as well as the powers of an Angel (male only ability) upon ingesting a Time Spore. Though it does come with Great Insanity and an unnatural pleasure from prolonged torture of his/her victims.
- Kanzeon Bosatsu from the Saiyuki manga, a reference to the fact that Guan Yin was originally portrayed as male, but eventually became portrayed as female in China.
- Makoto, the main character of the manga Boku no Futatsu no Tsubasa (My Two Wings) is a fully functional hermaphrodite thanks to her alien heritage. While she generally identifies herself as a girl, in part due to her Gag Boobs, she decides she likes sex with women using her male genitalia better.
- Very probably Envy of Fullmetal Alchemist. Referred to as 'it' in the manga rather than male or female, and according to the author not even Envy him/her/itself can work out if it's a he or a she. Technically, Envy should be classified as 'asexual', as its true form is that weird little green slug-fetus with a big mouth-face, while every other form it takes, most likely including the humongous demon-dog made out of corpses, is complete Voluntary Shapeshifting, based more on whim and/or what the situation demands. This applies more to the manga and the Brotherhood anime than the first anime series, in which Envy turned out to be the son of Hohenheim and Dante.
- Satan in the Go Nagai series Devilman is portrayed this way, Nagai considering it appropriate due to being an angel, who are often considered sexless. Then again, could have been done just for shock value. The main villain of Devilman Lady got the same treatment.
- In another Go Nagai work, Violence Jack, there's Blue Mad Saulus' lover. On the outside it appears to be female but has a man's voice (at least in the English dub) and in the manga has a huge penis.
- Yoite from Nabari no Ou is a hermaphrodite, though it is not used in the fetish-y sense of the word.
- Baron Ashura from Mazinger Z is a strange being formed from the halves of two lovers, sewn together down the middle. What his/her genitals look like is a mystery though, and that's probably for the best.
- The futanari (meaning Two-Form) subgenre of Hentai contains many examples. Japanese artists generally draw futanari of the hermaphrodite variety, while most Western artists tend to combine male genitals with an otherwise female form, a phenomenon commonly known as "dick girls" or "shemales" in English-language fetish circles (even though both terms are considered grave insults when applied to real people.)
- Yubel in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Is never referred with either male or female pronoun even in its past life, and has a yandere fixation on Judai and speaking in a feminine voice slightly more often, but refers to itself using male pronouns. The 4Kids Entertainment dub, however, makes Yubel completely female.
- Kei/Megumi, protagonist of the manga The Day of Revolution, is described as a hermaphrodite by her doctor, but that's an obsolete usage of the term. She's actually intersexed. She was raised as a boy but Hilarity Ensues when she decides to re-identify as a girl in high school.
- In the third series of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, it is revealed that one character started out female but assimilated with a prototype male body to become intersex, but eventually ejected the female part into the separate form of a little girl.
- Nataku from X/1999, who is said to be a "created being" with both female and male genes. Even though he looks more like a guy now (because his father gave him some body parts), his base is a little girl.
- Amazume Ryuta's ecchi-manga Boy meets Girl, Girl meets Boy (aka Boy Girl) is a three chapter manga about a teenaged boy and girl who are gradually transforming into the opposite sex. It was published in Change H, an anthology of similar Gender Bender stories.
- Bra Girl note by the same author is about a girl who had grown a penis (but explicitly no testicles) during the process of puberty, as part of an in-universe phenomenon that gave rise to the "third sex/gender". This example, however, is just an ecchi romantic comedy instead of outright hentai; at no point do we actually see her naked genitals, with the most that we get being the bulge of her morning erection through her pajama pants, and... uh, how it "looks" while she's wearing "third sex-compatible" panties.
- Adam Kadmon from Angel Sanctuary represents Primordial Man, being God's first creation who existed before "duality" of gender and power emerged. Apparently, replicating a more obedient version was part of YHWH's master plan; several angels and demons are His failed experiments in doing so.
- The protagonist, Mashiro Ichijo of Setona Mizushiro's manga, After School Nightmare, possesses a body with the upper half being male and the lower half being female.
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman's Berg Katse.
- Katse's even more messed up. Born after Sosai X fused fraternal twins into one being, Katze switches between male and female forms.
- Knights Of Sidonia features Shinatose Izana, a true hermaphrodite human created through bioengineering. S/he is in love with the protagonist but he only seems to like women.
- It eventually turns out that the bioengineered intersex people in Sidonia aren't exactly hermaphrodites, as they can't breed true in their original state but instead metamorphose into one sex or the other depending on circumstances the way some fish and amphibians do.
- Kira in Marginal can switch between being male and female due to being the outcome of a really messed up experiment by hir father.
- Given that very few fictional works actually show their protagonists' genitals, it's a common fanfictional conceit for all members of a particular species or society to be hermaphroditic (or at least for the females to have hyena-like genitalia.) This is slightly weird when applied to Green Skinned Space Babes (e.g. Starfire), and really weird when applied to Fantasy Counterpart Cultures whose real-world equivalents quite obviously aren't hermaphroditic (e.g. Britannians.note )
- Structurally-hermaphroditic biology is common for trolls in Homestuck fanfic, though that has some canonical basis with the given knowledge of their Bizarre Alien Biology; both male and female trolls deposit their "genetic material" into buckets for shipment to the egg-laying Mother Grub, and gender has no bearing on which pairs can reproduce together.
- Variant in Hivefled; both "males" and "females" have a tentacular penis and a vagina, but only in the females does said vagina lead up to a womb-analogous pouch for storing genetic material, and only females have Non-Mammal Mammaries. It's also considered taboo for females to favour using their penis or males their vagina over the opposing parts, and most trolls don't find this a problem as they find it various levels of uncomfortable to do so.
- Supporting the Cade and Jori pairings is a Victorious fanfic where Tori wakes to find that Cat is one. But its not just Cat...
- There's this Harry Potter fanfic in which... well, you'll just have to read it. Resuscitation of Agape.
- Hopeless Love explains Yugi's slightly effeminate appearance by making him a hermaphrodite.
- Rinjapine's The Lion King OC Njozi went through several gender flips before her/his creator decided to make him/her to a hermaphrodite. Rinjapine even discusses the trouble with gender pronouns this causes.
- In this Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic, Aang and Katara encounter one of these...who looks like Katara except for some other details. She turns out to be the leader of an island tribe, where they don't worry about appearances.
- Some Soul Eater fanfictions use this as a method of explaining Crona's Ambiguous Gender. It may or may not be used for Fetish Fuel too, depending on what kind of fanfiction you're reading.
- There are many My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics that turn characters into this to get around the fact that the mane cast is six/sevenths female. For whatever reasons Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Princess Celestia seem to be given male organs most often.
- Hutts in the Star Wars universe are gastropods and therefore functional hermaphrodites. A given Hutt is usually referred to as "female" when pregnant, otherwise it's a matter of personal preference whether they're called "he" or "she".
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe adds many other species. Star Dragons/Duinuogwuin have only one sex and take on gendered pronouns for the convenience of bigendered species.
- The Gyaos in the Heisei Gamera trilogy.
- The Xenomorphs from the Alien films. According to H. R. Giger, the guy who pretty much created the aliens, they're neither male nor female but rather a horrific blurring of both sexes. Yes, this even includes the Queen. (Try not to think about it too hard. These are aliens, after all.) Giger's new Xenorotica Portfolio is essentially Rule 34 based around them, much to the joy of Nightmare Fetishists everywhere.
- Hedorah from the Godzilla films is simply referred to as an "it".
- In the film Never Too Young To Die, Gene Simmons plays one dressed in a dominatrix outfit. He also has a scene where he sings a song titled, "It Takes A Man Like Me To Love A Woman Like Me".
- Tie-in material for District 9 on Christopher's blog states that the prawns are all fully functional hermaphrodites.
- Big Top Pee-Wee features a hermaphrodite in the circus' side show named Shim who has a male left half and female right half (or possibly the other way around). Said, by the circus announcer, to be the only person who can marry "shimself."
- In the sequel to Tremors, the resident scientist sees the Screamer stage reproducing and says they're "hermaphrodites"; but they're actually just the opposite in that they have no genitals and reproduce asexually by vomiting up a new one after gorging. She says IMMEDIATELY afterwards "They reproduce asexually", so whether it's a case of the writers not knowing the difference or just her (being a geologist, not a biologist) is never brought up...unlike the phrase "pre-Cambrian."
- Referenced in The Lair of the White Worm, when the characters discover some cave art depicting a figure with large breasts and an erect penis. A subversion, as it turns out to be a sketch of the film's immortal villain, a lesbian snake-woman who likes to perform Human Sacrifice with a sharpened ritual strap-on.
- The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were sequential hermaphrodites as a result of frog DNA being used to fill the gaps in their own deteriorated helixes. All the dinosaurs were engineered female, which obviously was just the sort of population imbalance needed for some of them to turn male and start breeding. This is possible because neither amphibians nor reptiles have sex-specific chromosomes.
- The lengthy Wraeththu series, in which 99.9% of the (many, many) characters are fully functional, half-and-half hermaphrodites. Also, magical.
- Roselle Pollard in Dean Koontz' The Bad Place is fully reproductively functional as both sexes and by self-impregnation, gives birth to a protagonist and the villain, plus two other children.
- The central character of Robert A. Heinlein's —All You Zombies— had internal male genitalia discovered during a cesarean section, and complications forced the doctors to supersede her external female genitalia with them. Both sets of genitalia were fully functional; in fact, s/he's not only the mother, but the father and daughter as well, via Stable Time Loop orchestrated by the protagonist much later in life, making four distinct characters the same person.
- The main character of Mary Gentle's Alternate History novel Ilario: The Lion's Eye is a realistically(?) portrayed hermaphrodite. Ilario becomes pregnant at one point.
- Miles Naismith Vorkosigan's close friend and able subordinate Bel Thorne is a Betan hermaphrodite, one of an entire subspecies of genetically-engineered people created as an ultra-egalitarian social movement. In-universe, "it" is considered the appropriate pronoun. Bel usually presents itself as a dashing, macho, bishonen officer but will vary its gender presentation (once in the middle of a conversation) in order to attract the attention of a potential love interest or just to mess with people. Bel is one of very few hermaphrodites to ever leave their hermetic subculture on ultra-liberal Beta colony and hints its preference for bi-gendered society may be considered a bit "queer" back home.
- A number of other characters have made comments about Thorne having romantic feelings towards Miles. Due to its deliberate ambiguity of gender, these feelings are often the subject of ridicule and disdain among some. Miles, who is relatively open-minded despite his very traditional upbringing, sometimes has trouble working through the ambiguities himself. Conversely Bel appears to be perfectly happy with its third-gender status since Betan technology is sufficiently advanced to allow any character to change genders at will.
- From John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata, the Posleen.
- James Reese's trilogy consisting of The Book of Shadows, The Book of Spirits, and The Witchery feature Herculine, a hermaphrodite with functional dual genitals . She/he is an unusual member of a Witch Species that normally gives birth to female witches and male humans. She/he has the powers of a witch, but is able to impregnate a human woman and father a witch daughter and a human son.
- Sadako in the Ring novels counts twice. Her original body had Androgen insensitivity syndrome, an intersex condition that causes the woman affected to be born with a vagina, but with XY chromosomes, no uterus, and internal testes where the ovaries would typically be. After her rebirth in Spiral, she describes herself as a "complete hermaphrodite" with both a womb and testicles, fully functional.
- In H. Beam Piper's sci-fi novel ''Uller Uprising'', the Ullerans are a race of silicon-based, vaguely reptilian Proud Warrior Race Guys who happen to be hermaphroditic. The rather imperialistic Terran colonists have gotten used to every army unit needing to have a few troopers assigned to baby-sitting duty.
- John Varley:
- The Titanides from the Gaea Trilogy are...complicated. Genetically engineered to resemble the centaurs of myth, they, shall we say, divert from that model by having both genitalia on their horsey halves AND nonetheless sort themselves into males and females based on the third set of genitals at the base of the humanoid torso. They also universally sport breasts, regardless of which humanoid genitalia they possess, since all of them can bear (and thus must nurse) children.
- Kenneth "Sparky" Valentine from The Golden Globe, is specifically not a hermaphrodite despite his trick reversible penis. He's just an actor who likes to play both male and female roles in a frontier society where virtually every production (including Shakespeare) includes sex scenes.
- In the Well World series, the communistic states on some of the more hivelike planets have engineered humans to be full hermaphrodites to make everyone "equal". It doesn't work. The population of the Well World itself contains a variety of hermaphoditic species as well.
- The eponymous character of the Thomas T. Thomas novel Crygender (it stands for 'cryptic gender") is a former terrorist who elects to become a (surgically created) hermaphrodite in order to "hide in plain sight."
- When the Evilutionary Biologist villains of Jack L. Chalker's The Moreau Factor transform their victims into Half Human Hybrids they also make many of them hermaphrodites, apparently just because they can— or so the protagonist initially assumes. He later learns that creating a fertile species of any kind is pretty much a fluke when you're Playing with Syringes and the scientists weren't deliberately aiming for hermaphrodites so much as they were trying to create something — anything — that could reproduce.
- Burgoyne 172 in Star Trek: New Frontier, a member of the fully hermaphroditic Hermat species. S/he (bear with us here) mates with a Vulcan, of all species, and the baby they produce (well, the Vulcan produces) is male. Originally the considered pronoun was S/he/it. Say it out loud and you'll see why it didn't catch on.
- Melissa Scott's novel Shadow Man involved humanity becoming a five-sexed race as a side-effect of adaptation to faster-than-light space travel. Of course, not everyone accepted it.
- Ralf Isau's novel Galerie der Lügen (translating to "Gallery of Lies") has a hermaphrodite protagonist and an ex-hermaphrodite Well-Intentioned Extremist on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Pie O'Pah in Imajica is a bit like Desire as mentioned above — "he" is whatever his current sexual partner is most attracted to. Another main character who falls in love with him learns to see his true form, which rather than having two sets of genitals has one unusually-shaped organ that can somehow fulfill both jobs.
- Thorn of Gary Jennings' Raptor is a hermaphrodite born during the last years of the Roman Empire. Thorn is remarkably convincing as either gender, and switches between them as needed. Unlike some fictional examples, however, Thorn is sterile.
- The entire planet of Winter in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness is populated by humans who are hermaphrodites and androgynes. Most of the time, people are genderless, unless they're in heat. Two lovers in heat will assume genders at random (though some people have preferences, male or female) and if one gets pregnant, she remains so until the baby is born, then goes back to being an androgyne. This is explored in great detail - and made slightly complicated by the fact that the narrator translates pronouns as "He" most of the time (though a later book referred to all Getheniens as "she").
- In F. M. Busby's The Breeds Of Man genetic scientists searching for a cure for an infertility plague caused by an AIDS cure Gone Horribly Wrong inadvertently create "serial" hermaphrodites that alternate between male and female on a monthly cycle linked to menstruation: Three weeks of one sex followed by three weeks of the other with a one-week transition period in between. Fortunately the menstrual trigger means any cohabiting couple will alternate sexes once their menstrual cycles synchronize. Unfortunately they don't find out about it until the first test subjects hit puberty and the resulting collisions of sex and gender roles (to say nothing of the pronoun problems) pretty much knocks society for a loop.
- Though it does provide for some amusing subversions of traditional plot devices, like the revelation that the two formerly male schoolyard bullies had married each other and had Babies Ever After in the Distant Finale.
- In Thief of Souls, the eponymous soul-eater Okoya takes a hermaphrodite body.
- Laurie J. Marks's Aeyries. They're also oviparous.
- In the later Time Scout books, Dr. John Lachley was born with ambiguous genitalia. A little of each. Combined with a terrible childhood in the Crapsack World of Victorian London's East End, and you've got one hell of a Freudian Excuse.
- The Ledom, an "advanced" (what exactly that means is an important Plot Point in the novel) type of humans, in Theodore Sturgeon's Venus Plus X are all hermaphroditic, peace-loving, and empathetic. Late in the novel, the protagonist (and the reader) find out what's really going on.
Live Action TV
- Gene/Jean in Quark is a "transmute," meaning he has both male and female chromosomes. Whether he has both sex organs, however, is never revealed.
- Mr. Show: "I'm Tatyana, the Weather Hermaphrodite/"
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Earshot" Buffy is touched by a demon, then learns she will take on an aspect of said demon. She relays the fears of getting a tail or scales to Willow, whose eyes go wide at a sudden thought she's kind enough to share and add to Buffy's fears.
Was it a boy demon?
- A "big, fat hermaphrodite with A Flock Of Seagulls haircut and only one nostril" stole Al's lucky, lucky autographed glow-in-the-dark snorkel in the (not really) autobiographical song "Albuquerque."
- Singing comedian Steven Lynch had the song "Hermaphrodite" (pronounced to be a pun with Aphrodite) which is about him having a hermaphrodite "girlfriend."
- In the music video for the Rammstein song "Pussy", Flake Lorenz played a hermaphrodite. There's also their song "Zwitter", which translates to 'hermaphrodite'.
- The Genesis song "The Fountain of Salmacis" (from Nursery Cryme) tells the Hermaphrodite story.
- S-E-X-X-Y by They Might Be Giants is implied to be about this.
- In the She Wants Revenge music video Tear You Apart it's implied but not said for the girl to actually be intersex. It results in her being cornered and about to be stripped by a mob of high schoolers. Then the duo burst in and rescue her. Then it results in a Cliffhanger with them saying there much to talk about.
- Singing comedian The Rev. Billy C. Wirtz has the song "Honky Tonk Hermaprodite", about a "good ol' boy with the 38D's. The song ends with him meeting a fellow hermaphrodite who's "Jethro above the waist, but below, she's Elly May."
- The Rock would frequently call interviewer Kevin Kelly "an ugly hermaphrodite", or "Hermie" for short. Whenever Kelly made appearances as a manager on the independent circuit, fans would chant "Her-Mie!" at him.
- Slaanesh, the youngest Chaos God in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, can be just as accurately referred to as "The Dark Prince" and "She Who Thirsts." Traditional lore portrays it as a rather unusual version of this trope; basically, cut a woman and a man, both exceptionally beautiful, in half vertically and then fuse the woman's right half to the man's left half to make a whole human being. That's what Slaanesh's "main" form looks like. Slaanesh's followers tend to end up rather distorted in terms of gender, but for male worshippers, having the right pectoral swell into a female breast is considered a high mark of favor, as it makes them more like Slaanesh itself. Of course, as a supremely powerful warp entity, Slaanesh can alter its form to appear male, female, hermaphroditic, or androgynous, but not matter how it appears, it is supremely seductive — so that yes, you'd hit that, and you'd sell your soul for the chance to do so.
- Mage: The Awakening has a Legacy called the Daksha, whose members are all hermaphrodites (they don't start out like that, but are transformed by joining the Legacy). They have the ability to shapeshift between a male, female, and hermaphroditic form, though they tend to consider the latter their "true" form, regardless of their original gender.
- In Unknown Armies one of the archetypes an avatar can follow (and described as one of the hardest to master) is that of the Mystic Hermaphrodite - a being that represents absolute paradox (which is the foundation on which magick is created in the game). When an avatar achieves greater levels of mastery over the archetype he/she can change gender at will, but risks becoming a biological hermaphrodite if the roll is botched.
- Exalted: Marilaq A'Lam, Sister of Neomah, a Demon-Blooded turned more-or-less full demon, is an example of this. Fully functional at that; she's quite capable of impregnating herself. She does seem to maintain a female identity, despite her three sets of genitalia.
- Another, non-fully functional example is Livillia, the actual goddess of prostitution. As befitting her nature, she's not nearly as Squicky as Marilaq-she looks like a Amazonian Beauty since she's supposed to be an example of both male and female attractiveness. Doesn't stop her from wearing a penis sheath.
- Sonichu features Silvana, an evil villain who Count Graduon granted male and female genitalia along with shapeshifting abilities (intended as a reference to the internet trolls who tease the author by falsifying their gender and spreading rumors about Rosechu being intersexed).
- In Super Mega Topia, there is the Offenders' team mate, She-Male.
- As eventually revealed in And Shine Heaven Now, Heinkel is this trope. One of the reasons ze joined Iscariot namely the regenerator program is in hopes that it would 'fix' hir and put hir into a 'normal' body.
- In Orion's Arm humanity has six "normal" genders, two are intersex (Ferm, Merm), one is a fully functional Hermaphrodite (Herm), and the sixth has no genitalia (Neut). And that's just humans.
- Bernard Doove's felinoid centaurs, named chakats, are a genetically engineered race, intentionally designed with fully functional equipment for both sexes. Many of the other species in his Chakat universe are hermaphrodites. The pronouns "shi" and "hir" that he came up with are often used by furries with "herm" characters.note
- In general, the Furry Fandom produces many more hermaphroditic characters than your run-of-the-mill fandom.
- In The Return Succubae reproduce two ways. One is turning that results in a succubus regardless of what gender they were as a human. The other is one succubus impregnates another. Tails are implied to be involved.
- Yukkuris are biologically hermaphroditic, their only restriction being that two yukkuris of the same type can't have a baby together (unless they're Rinnosuke-types). However, they are always referred to by the same pronouns as the characters they're based on —which 99% of the time would be "her".
- Lots of invertebrate species are hermaphroditic, including such familiar creatures as earthworms and snails.
- One species that maybe need special focus is C. elegans, which have males and hermaphrodites; hermaphodite can mate with itself to produce more hermaphrodites, while males can only mate with hermaphrodites and have 1:1 sex ratio in their progeny.
- Some vertebrate species include certain fish such as Hamlets, Clownfish and Wrasses (although in the later two are sequential hermaphrodites. Meaning that they're usually one sex but will become the other under certain circumstances.)