Old Friend, New Gender
At a Class Reunion or other gathering of long-parted friends and acquaintances, a male regular character meets (and, in some cases, hits on) a stunningly beautiful woman. While he is certain he's never met her before, she is distressingly familiar with all manner of details about his life, and seems privately amused by the whole encounter. Eventually the truth comes out: she is in fact a former male classmate (sometimes even a former best friend) who has undergone gender reassignment and come out of it a bombshell. While beautiful trans women are not uncommon in Real Life, the prevalence of supermodels and Playboy Playmates in these parts usually means we're more in the realm of the Easy Sex Change. In most cases, the regular cast member freaks out, entertaining the audience with his inability to cope with either the concept, the execution, or his attraction to the woman. In those cases where he accepts his friend with aplomb, there is usually An Aesop blatantly made about tolerance and the like. At times, this trope is inverted and a male character's ex-"girlfriend" undergoes F>M gender reassignment and meets the now male character who goes unrecognized. These examples will sometimes have the regular cast member consider outing the trans character as such when he sees him hitting on a female character.
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Anime & Manga
- Subverted in The Day of Revolution: Megumi's former True Companions don't start hitting on her until after they've forced her to confess she used to be their (male) friend Kei.
- Happened to Yukari in Family Compo. It's Played for Drama: one of her female classmate used to have a feeling for Yukari when Yukari lived as a man, and now that said classmate's marriage is in ruin, she lament how she didn't pick Yukari for husband back then. On the other hand, now that Yukari is a woman, she understands her plight as a fellow lady.
- Although the two don't spend any actual time parted, Asuta Soro struggles with his growing attraction to his friend Hazumu in Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl.
- The premise of the manga No Bra.
- Played with in Wandering Son. Shiina and Yuki weren't friends as children but they knew each other. Sometime before the manga began they met again and eventually paired up. Late into the series there was a class reuninion but Yuki refused to go, averting this situation.
- One chapter of Ai no Shintairiku has Sara go to a class reunion where a bunch of people she knew in elementary are. They don't know who she is at first but when she reveals to them they start ambushing her with questions and making her uncomfortable.
- One episode of You're Under Arrest! has an old friend of Aoi asking for help as her younger brother is being bullied. She knows that Aoi works at the police department but Aoi ends up hiding from her and later on presents as a different individual. The women learns for herself who Aoi is when she notices her basketball skills (golf in the manga).
- This is the plot of Go Go Ichigo. An elementary school girl is surprised when the new girl turns out to have been her Forgotten Childhood Friend from kindergarten. Anzu spends most of the manga in confusion and denial, especially due to her falling for Ichigo, and constantly tries to "expose" her to others but eventually she considers Ichigo a girl.
- A tragic version appears in Yuureitou. Tetsuo was engaged to a man by his adopted mother when he lived as a woman. He eventually told his fiance he could not marry him, for he did not like men and he identified as male, but hoped they could be like brothers. His fiance was considerably confused and not soon afterwards Tetsuo killed his adopted mother and "died". When they meet again Tetsuo's fiance is horribly disfigured and does not know this. He doesn't know anything about Tetsuo transitioning or the incidents in the past. He still sees Tetsuo as a woman and Tetsuo keeps up the facade of romance until his fiance dies protecting him.
- Happens early in Moyashimon. Kei is introduced as a male college student going to the same school as his childhood friend, disappears for several chapters, and reappears as an Elegant Gothic Lolita wearing woman.
- Non-class reunion example: Mamiya and Sagara of Kanojo ni Naru Hi (The Day He Becomes a Girl) and its sequel, respectively, both get subjected to gender reassignment which in this setting is a natural process that occurs to certain people so that a fixed gender ratio is maintained. What's different about the series is that the first one has the childhood friend of Mamiya's, Miyoshi, doing the narration for most of the series, whereas Sagara does his/her own narration of the story..
- This happens at the beginning of Kyou Kara Yonshimai, but with family instead. After being away at college for two years, three girls find out their brother is returning only to find he's living as a woman. After being varying degrees of upset for a while they get over it.
- Inverted in an old Doctor Fate comic, where a character takes most of a page to notice that the previously male Dr. Fate is a woman. (Since this version of Dr. fate was a man & woman fused into one, and the character in question was the human incarnation of a godlike Lord of Order, this actually made some sense, but was still played for laughs.)
- The fundamental premise of Different for Girls.
- During the slide show in National Lampoon's Class Reunion, it's revealed that a person from their class who'd never taken gym is now a housewife in another state. It's unspecified whether this student was a crossdresser then or is a transsexual now.
- One classic Filipino film, Miguel/Michelle, had this as the plot with a respectable 'man' returning from being a contract worker as a woman. The situation was not played for laughs, highlighting the social tension transgender people usually experience.
- In Escape from L.A., Snake Plissken is astonished to discover his old friend Carjack Malone is now Hershe Las Palmas (played by Pam Grier).
- In Pedro Almodovar's novel Pornstar, there's a FAAB variant. The titular female pornstar's childhood friend, who had a hopeless crush on her, became a man to be with her (but it didn't work out.)
- Lois McMaster Bujold's A Civil Campaign features an inversion of the usual examples, with Ivan Vorpatril arriving at the shuttleport with flowers in hand hoping to restart his old relationship with Lady Donna Vorrutyer. He knew she went to Beta Colony concerning something involving the Succession Crisis surrounding her late brother Count Vorrutyer, but it took several seconds for him to realize who that fellow accompanying the two Vorrutyer armsmen was.
Live Action TV
- An old friend of Dan Fielding's is a trans woman on Night Court.
- An old friend of Finch's is outed as a trans woman on Just Shoot Me!. She was played by Jenny McCarthy and Finch had a difficult time dealing with his attraction to her.
- Kristy McNichol played Gopher's former college roommate on an episode of The Love Boat.
- In a twist, one of the main characters of The Education Of Max Bickford, a professor at the same college Max teaches at, undergoes gender reassignment surgeries just as the series starts.
- Daniel in Ugly Betty runs across this trope. A woman who he hits on turns out to have once been his brother, whom everyone thought was dead.
- Inverted in Two and a Half Men. Notorious womanizer Charlie is invited to a bar to meet up with an old girlfriend to talk. He meets an attractive man there (played by Chris O'Donnell), whom he befriends, only to discover he is a female-to-male transexual and is Charlie's ex-girlfriend. This culminates in Charlie's mother Evelyn (briefly) dating this man.
- Judging Amy: In the "Slade's Chophouse" episode, Bruce looks forward to a visit from his old friend, Father Ted. Bruce is rather surprised that he goes by Teresa now and is in town for the final surgery.
Amy: Thought you'd be shorter...and a guy.
- An old friend of Dr John Becker is a trans woman in an episode of Becker ("He Said, She Said").
- Despite jokes earlier in the episode completely contradicting this reveal.
- Played straight on Las Vegas, with a much faster cooldown than usual: Danny McCoy walks into a traffic control, starts hitting on the hot woman to get info, and she asks him if he recognizes her before revealing she's an old friend. Danny is already tolerant, just a little shocked. The next scene has her going out to eat hot dogs while chatting with Danny.
- In the french Canadian series Un Gars Une Fille (Love Bites for the American adaptation), Guy and Sylvie, the show's focus couple are participating in the gay pride parade to support Guy's lesbian sister. There, Guy meets a hot woman named Martine (of whom Sylvie is uncharacteristically not jealous), who claims they went to high school together, and even slept in the same bed during a hockey tournament. Guy is completely confused until Martine reveals she used to be called Martin. When she leaves, Guy, dumbfounded, tells Sylvie he slept with her in High School, not entirely realizing with it implies. Off Sylvie's confused look.
- The Jeffersons had an episode where George met up with his old Navy friend Eddie and found that she was now Edie. This was in 1977, a surprisingly sensitive early use of a trans character (and a black one at that). Of course it had the George-freaks-out-initially-but-learns-to-accept-it storyline.
- Happens when Nick Driscoll meets a drop dead gorgeous woman at his class reunion in Stupid Stupid Man.
- In Necessary Roughness, Jeanette goes to her high school reunion hoping to connect with an old crush, Gerald. When she gets there, she finds out that Gerald is now Geraldine. Notable because, unusually for this trope, Geraldine is played by transgender actress Candis Cayne and is also stated to be a lesbian.
- In an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, Herb starts flirting with a woman who claims she knew him in high school. While making out with her, he learns he did know her in high school... before she had the operation. She was a teammate of his on the high school football team, in fact the center to Herb's quarterback. To say Herb had a case of the Squick is putting it midly.
- In the Married... with Children episode "Dud Bowl", Al gathers his old high school friends for a football game, and it turns out one of them is now a she. Unlike most examples, this one is played by an obvious man in drag.
- Billy Kronk on Chicago Hope ends up meeting a woman who claims to be the sister of a guy who played hockey with him many years before. They end up sleeping together. He starts to suspect that she has fake boobs. When confronting her, she admits that she's not the guy's sister... she is the guy.
- A skit Israeli skit show Ktzarim showed a class reunion in which every member who used to have a nickname related to what they were known for become irrelevant: a classmate known for playing the guitar lost an arm, another who was known for his hair went bald, etc. Guess what happened to the well-endowed one.
- A skit from a different Israeli skit show, The Chamber Quintet, showed a man meeting his old friend from the army, to discover he is now a she. He’s extra-shocked by the change because at one point, when it was extra-cold out in the field, they had to share a night of particular closeness... which, at the end of the skit, they choose to re-live.
- An arc in Welcome To Room 305 has Yang Jooha trying to meet an old friend from high school. He tries to avoid her as he's living as a man now. When they meet face-to-face he ends up dressing awkwardly as a woman but later they meet normally. Yang Jooha has no issue with him being transgender but their other school friends are less accepting.
- In the Paradise setting, humans are randomly, permanently changed into Funny Animals by causes unknown—and sometimes gender-swapped at the same time—though the effects of these Changes are Invisible to Normals who will continue to see the Changed person as his or her old self (and gender). However, at one point a Ret Gone effect kicks in for these gender-changed, with reality editing itself to reflect their new gender. As part of this, family members may be surprised to discover that photos of their brother or son now show their sister or daughter, even though their memories of said person's original gender remain intact. Also, those going through the Change themselves will start to see friends' or loved ones' new animal forms (and genders) in person, or in photos they happen to have about.
- The episode of Family Guy called Quagmire's Dad runs with this trope. Quagmire's father has a sex change, and is now living as a woman named Ida. Ida goes to a hotel, meets Brian and has sex with her. Brian has heavy doses of Squick when he realizes Ida was Quagmire's dad.
- While it's not a plot point, there is an example in the "Droopy Botox" episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law - at the end, Harvey walks into Phil Ken Sebben's office to tender his resignation, only to walk in on a surprise party for him. Heading the surprise party? Phil Ken Sebben, who's undergone gender reassignment and become a total bombshell (still with the eyepatch, though). Harvey asks, exasperated, "Do I know you people?" Then she speaks - and it's still Stephen Colbert's voice.
- In The Simpsons episode "Holidays of Future Passed", a future Lisa goes onto Facebook and sees that Martin Prince has now become "Marsha Princess". Retconned in the sequel episode.
- President George W. Bush surprised some former classmates with his handling of this situation at his Yale class reunion. A woman approached Bush, introduced herself, and said, "You may not remember me, but when I attended here, my name was Peter." Bush, according to reports, took her hand and shook it, and said "Now you've come back as yourself."
- Stephen Colbert makes a very attractive woman when in drag.◊ In fact, when he showed one of his brothers this picture, his brother expressed an interest in "her", giving this trope an extra dimension of Squick above and beyond the usual.