Raised as the Opposite Gender

A couple has a baby that's another sex from the one they wanted or needed. For whatever reason, they decide that rather than keep trying, they're going to raise the existing child as if the child were the desired gender. Very often applied to young girls being raised as boys because their families needed an heir.

Once the kid is a little older, this usually leads to conflict between the child and the parents and/or inner conflict for the child, who has to weigh the desire to be themselves against their desire to please their parents (or keep their inheritance or what have you). In a few cases, though, the child turns out to identify just fine with the gender they were raised to be. When the child's gender identity does match their sex, they may still retain some Wholesome Crossdresser tendencies.

Can result in a lot of Angst if the child suppresses their desire to be themself (until it can't be suppressed anymore, like when the child begins to show prominent secondary sexual characteristics, or when the child begins to love someone of another sex), or when the child rebels against the parent's desire and the parent simply can't accept the child for who they are.

One possible idea is that the character was raised as the gender they were assigned at birth, and came to identify as another gender but is forced to continue living as their assigned one. However, discussing whether or not a character is trans has been known to cause many an Internet Backdraft, so unless there is basis in canon, let's not get too deep into the subject.

Beware of inherent spoilers in the examples.

Examples:

Girls Raised as Boys

Anime and Manga
  • Akito Sohma in Fruits Basket. There's a long story behind it involving some sort of reverse Oedipus Complex, but suffice it to say that her mother Ren Sohma was to blame for it. She was always aware of her true gender and identified as such, but other than that, only some of the old family servants and the oldest Zodiac members (Ayame, Hatori, Shigure and Kureno) know about it until she goes through a Heel-Face Turn and then willingly reveals her gender/identification, via showing up in a very feminine kimono instead of the manly ''yukata'' robes she usually wears. It's probably the main reason why she hates her mother so much.
  • Tsukasa Shuro in Ayashi no Ceres, according to the tie-in novel focusing on her backstory, didn't even realize she was a girl until she was about 8 years old. She was raised as a boy to protect her from the curse of the Hagoromo, since she's one of the Celestial Maidens; her parents, and specially her mother, feared that she would take her Hagoromo and run away from them. As an adult, she identifies as a girl and has grown up into a Bifauxnen Idol Singer.
  • Lady Oscar in Rose of Versailles, raised by her father as such due to the lack of a son to continue the family's military tradition. By the time she meets Andre at age 7, she already knows she is a girl and identifies as such. By the time Oscar joins the military at age 14, most people can tell she is female.
  • Gintama's Kyuubei was raised as a boy so that she could succeed her family's clan.
  • Princess Sapphire from The Princess Knight - again raised as a boy due to a law that only male heirs could rule, and further complicated by the fact that she had the "hearts" of both a boy and girl due to a mistake in Heaven.
  • Genki Saotome in Getter Robo Armaggedon. (And only in this particular continuity, one might add.) When we meet her as an adult, she identifies as a female, and has grown into the very tomboyish Action Girl Kei Kuruma. Brilliant plot twist, or an Ass Pull for the ages? Who knows.
  • Chiyomaru/Kiyone in Genzo. Princess Kiku is a variation: while her gender wasn't concealed at all, her father raised her like a boy and a warrior in order to defeat Yasuke and the Yamiganemaru.
  • Shintarou Inoue in Sumomomo Momomo, and it's not entirely clear if this happened because the head of the clans that the Inoue clan were aligned with had to be male to fit into an Arranged Marriage, if it's because Shintarou's dad is an Unknown Rival to the main character's dad, and Shintarou's dad wants revenge by proxy, or if it's because the character's dad is just a bit crazy.
  • Julius from Orpheus no Mado, by Riyoko Ikeda from Rose of Versailles. She knows she's a girl, but has been forcibly raised as a boy by her Big Screwed-Up Family as a condition to be considered as a worthy inheritor. Julius desperately wants to live her life as she sees fit, though, and both her hate for her cruel relatives and her love for her friends and her much abused mom drives her to a massively tragic life.
  • Kugayama in Beelzebub. This is because only males were allowed to inherit the family fortune, and therefore she was raised as a male. However, when she ended up falling in love with her best friend, Himekawa, her feminine desires ended up conflicting with her masculine upbringing, and caused her a great deal of emotional turmoil. To remedy this, her grandfather made an Arranged Marriage between the two for when they were older, so that she could freely be female. However, she never had the guts to tell Himekawa about it or her true gender. Years later, after she betrayed years before in spite of still being in love with him, the truth finally comes out and Himekawa still has no idea how to react to all this.
  • Juliet Fiamatta Asto Capulet from Romeo X Juliet. She's self-identified as a girl since birth, but has been presented as a boy to everyone outside her closest confidantes since the other members of her family were murdered when she was just two years old; it is common knowledge that the Sole Survivor of the massacre was a girl, so under the diguise of a boy named Odin, Juliet arouses less suspicion. When she learns her true identity as a Capulet on her Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday, she presents as a boy to those outside her closest social circle, but begins wearing dresses in private; when her true gender is publically revealed (which includes a scene in which Juliet is "presented" to the Big Bad while wearing her hair down and a simple dress), she switches her cross-dressing for a tomboyish Skirt over Slacks look, occasionally complemented by a Tomboyish Ponytail.
  • Urusei Yatsura has Ryuunosuke Fujinami. Ryuunosuke's dad wanted a boy to carry on his family sea-side shop and decided to raise his only daughter as one. Ryuunosuke knows she's really a girl and wants to be more girly, but fails due to her father's meddling.
  • Suggested to be the case for Tsukasa in .hack//SIGN. Throughout the series, she acts like a boy and plays the game using a male avatar... in fact, due to her circumstances in the game, she actually doesn't remember that she's actually a girl. Only near the end do we learn that her abusive father apparently raised her as a boy, for unspecified reasons. One flashback scene shows her attempting to shoplift a bra, and her father screaming and beating her over it. By the end of the series she's regained her memory, but doesn't start acting noticeably more feminine.

Fanfiction
  • Genma's Daughter has Ranma going through this, justified by the fact that Genma made a drunken deal with Happosai to provide an heir. Ranma never realized the truth until Nodoka finally catches up to him, searching for her daughter, Ranko, who disappeared over ten years before.

Film
  • Violeta, the middle daughter in the Spanish film Belle Epoque. Her mother raised her to be a boy and she became a Lesbian.
  • Christina in Queen Christina. Her father King Gustavus Adolphus lacking a male heir, she is raised as a boy, dressing in men's clothes and acting in an assertive, masculine manner.

Literature
  • In the Oz series, Princess Ozma was magically disguised as a boy for most of her childhood. Even she didn't know the truth. She seemed to adjust to being a girl very easily, however.
  • One of the stories from Arabian Nights had a groom reveal to the bride on their wedding night that he was actually a woman raised as a man due to her father putting pressure on her mother for a son.
  • Tamir (a.k.a. Prince Tobin) from Lynn Flewelling's Tamir Triad was magically transformed into a boy at birth (long story short, the people currently in power required a male heir, but certain groups wanted a return to the country's old matriarchal ways). She didn't know she was a girl until puberty hit and weakened the spell, and had some awkwardness adjusting to being female later.
  • In The Metamorphoses, Iphis's mother raises her daughter as a boy on divine orders to avoid exposing her at birth. Iphis falls in love with another girl named Ianthe, so the goddess Isis turned Iphis into a man and the two got married.
  • Features in Mark Twain's A Medieval Romance.
  • Kellen in The Dream-Maker's Magic was raised as a boy by her mother, who was convinced she had actually given birth to a boy and couldn't handle having a daughter instead. Kellen started occasionally dressing as a woman around the time she hit puberty. When she left to go to Wodenderry, she switched back to pretending to be a man for her own safety, but was eventually forced to admit the truth to her friends. It turned out her mother really had given birth to a boy, and the babies were Switched at Birth.
  • Celeste in the Gemini books by V. C. Andrews.
  • The narrator, Frank, in The Wasp Factory as it turns out her father wanted to experiment and see if it would work.
  • Viscount Leos von Liebowitz of Nuln, in the Kim Newman novel Beasts in Velvet. Spoilered as it's a murder mystery, the relevant character is raised as a boy because his elder sister, Countess-to-be Emmanuelle von Liebowitz declared she didn't want a sister taking the attention from her. He was repeatedly beaten if he showed any signs of femininity, including an awareness that he had girl-parts. As a result, he became a serial killer, targeting whores, while wearing his sister's green velvet cloak and dress. The truth of his gender was only discovered after his death.

Live-Action TV
  • How I Met Your Mother: Robin Scherbatsky was raised as a boy by her father, until he caught her kissing a boy. Currently, she still has some boyish tendencies and a lingering desire to please her father whenever he appears in her life, and his constant dismissal of her is a Running Gag.
  • In Arrow, Shado mentions she learned to fight from her father, because "he wanted a boy." Slade comments, "Well, he got one."
  • Yang Seon from Scholar Who Walks The Night is a strange example of this trope; she was raised, dressed and acted like a boy after an accident when she was little caused a monk to advise the family to do so to prevent further misfortune, however, she still thinks of herself as a woman, as do her relatives.

Manhwa
  • Queen of Girls Of The Wild was raised this way for much of her life, as her parents were major figures in the financial world. She didn't even know she was female until age 5. When she was 9 her brother was born and thus she was allowed to live as a girl.

Visual Novels
  • Saber aka King Arthur from Fate/stay night is a standard "needed a male heir" example.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies , this turns out to be the case with Robin Newman. Why exactly her parents did this is left uncertain, but she is pretty happy when Athena reveals her secret to the court, allowing her to openly live as a girl.

Boys Raised as Girls

Anime, Manga and Manhwa
  • North Italy from Axis Powers Hetalia was raised as a girl by Austria and Hungary. Though it's implied that everyone but Austria (and the Holy Roman Empire, but that's another bag of cats) knew that Nitaly was a boy and not a girl, simply going along with his crossdressing until Italy reached physical puberty and started openly presenting himself as a male.
    • Oddly, North Italy's older brother South Italy/Romano also dressed up as a girl when living with Spain, but everyone treated him as a boy from the beginning. Likely because he was much more brash and kinda bratty.
  • Izumo Kunisaki in Kunisaki Izumo No Jijou. Technically, he was raised to perform female roles at kabuki.
  • Mei No Naisho: Haruna Mei's mother raised him as a girl. Mai only learned the truth when "her" classmates saw his penis. Mei believed it'd eventually fall.
  • An obscure manga called Princess Prince had Lawrence raised as a girl named Lori, due to a prophecy that if one of the twin sons born to the king was raised as a 'child of the moon' (read: a girl), there would be prosperity in the kingdom. (It doesn't help that of the two, he resembles his dead mother more.) Hilarity Ensues as Lawrence has a crush on a girl, is constantly hit on by men, and wonders what will happen when he hits puberty.
  • In the manhwa Angel Diary, Ee-Jung is raised as a girl because he is the Red Phoenix.
  • According to side materials, this seems to have been the case of Kazuto "Towa" Sakuma in Sensual Phrase.
  • Nagisa Shiowatari from Urusei Yatsura. His dad raised him as a girl just because he wanted to fulfil his promise to have a daughter to marry Fujinami's son (and apparently never thought about how to keep said son from protesting that his "bride" was actually another guy). Nagisa knows he's a boy and identifies as such but he just prefers to act like a girl, coming off as a Creepy Crossdresser (especially given he's a "living ghost" and so can do stuff like walk through walls).
  • First-born sons of the Higashikata family in part 8 of Jojos Bizarre Adventure are raised in girls' clothing until a certain age due to a superstition to ward off evil spirits. The tradition started because firstborn sons of the Higashikatas always die to an unknown disease. Currently this is done with Tsurugi Higashikata.
  • Juuzou Suzuya from Tokyo Ghoul is a particular disturbing example. Raised as a Human Pet by a sadistic Ghoul, she regularly dressed him up as a girl and molested him. When she began worrying that puberty would ruin his angelic looks, she castrated him so that he would "remain a girl" forever. It was only after CCG rescued him that he started living as a boy again, though his looks and unconventional gender expression continue to confuse others when they first meet him.

Film

Comic Books
  • In Finder, Lynne was raised as a girl because her mother was from the Llaverac clan, where everyone, regardless of functional gender, has breasts and dresses and acts female. Lynne grew up to be an odd mixture.
  • Lord Fanny in The Invisibles is born as a boy into a family of powerful female witches, and s/he is raised as a girl so that s/he can continue the family tradition (which is forbidden to men). Her/his grandmother even chastises her/his father for producing a male child instead of the preferred female one. Fanny quite easily accepts the gender she is given and grows up to be a transgender woman with magical powers.

Literature
  • Calliope/Cal, the central character of Middlesex, although being genetically male, is born with a condition that makes him look externally female. As neither the parents nor family doctor realized it until the child hit puberty, Callie was raised as a girl. Eventually, upon discovering his true nature he comes to terms with his male identity. Note that although Cal's parents specifically intended to have a baby girl (their first child was a boy), they obviously didn't intend to force her to fake her gender identity.
  • In Perfect Peace by Daniel Black, the mother of a black Southern family raises her youngest son as a girl. She manages to get away with this for 7 years because she makes sure to be the only one who changes her clothes, helps her in the bathroom etc.
  • Lila in the book Flavor of the Month by Olivia Goldsmith. Lila was already born with a testicle issue and a gay dad who wasn't going to be able to handle having a son, so her crazy mom Theresa got her remaining testicle removed and gave Lila hormones and breast surgery. It's unclear as to whether or not Lila was a transgender personality, but she pretty much hates both genders equally, and gay men especially. When she has sex with her fiance, well...she manages successfully to hide something.
  • The Counterfeit Marquise is a story about a woman whose husband died in battle raising her son as a girl so he won't have to join the army. She doesn't tell "Marianne" he is actually a boy until he is engaged to be married. And even then, he doesn't tell his husband until after the wedding. Everything turns out better than expected when Marianne's husband reveals he is a cross-dressing woman

Live Action Television
  • The True Life episode "I'm Living As Someone I'm Not" had a woman who was biologically a man. She was raised by her mother as a girl after her mother saw that she was transgender around the age of 13. This counts as this trope because she did not really see herself as transgender, just as a woman and in fact had lived as a woman so long that she had even perfected techniques so that it looked like she had breasts, and it was impossible to tell that she was biologically a man (she just looked like a skinny tall woman). The story follows her trying to come out of the closet, so to speak.
  • An episode of Law & Order: SVU featured a pair of fraternal twins. However, you find out later that they were born identical, and the sister was actually a boy who was given a sex change after a botched circumcision. This was Ripped from the Headlines, oddly enough.
  • On 30 Rock, it's mentioned as a Noodle Incident that Josh was raised as a girl for 10 years.

Music
  • The singer in The Who's song "I'm a Boy":
    I'm a boy, I'm a boy, but my ma won't admit it; I'm a boy, I'm a boy, but if I say I am, I get it.

Theater
  • Daisy in the Christopher Durang play Baby with the Bathwater.
  • In the Brazilian soap-opera 'Chocolate com Pimenta' (Chocolate with Pepper), there was a woman who suffered from a serious illness and promised to St. Bernardette she'd adopt a girl if she's cured. A maid working for the woman had a son and desired for him a better life so she passed the boy as a girl with no family and claimed the "girl's" name to be Bernardette. Not caring about her foster child more than required to keep good on her promise, she spent years unknowingly raising a boy until the truth came out and Bernardette renamed himself "Bernardo". The woman then started to think everything bad that happened to her was divine punishment for not keeping her promise.

Video Games
  • Bridget from Guilty Gear was raised as a girl because of a superstition in his village about having same gender twins. His story mode actually has him setting off to become a bounty hunter to actually prove that he wouldn't be a curse on those he loved.
  • Gwyndolin of Dark Souls was born with an affinity for the moon, and as such was raised as a female.

Visual Novel
  • Cassidy in The Royal Trap was born male but raised female for complicated political reasons.

Webcomics
  • Canadian superhero Green Gables from the Spinnerette webcomic may possibly be an example. While he has not made mention of his childhood, he stated that the Green Gables persona is a matriarchal legacy in his family, leaving his origin hanging somewhere between this trope and Wholesome Crossdresser.

Web Original

Real Life
  • In real life, David Reimer had his penis destroyed as a baby during a circumcision. John Money (a psychologist) then encouraged and oversaw David being sexually re-assigned to female and raised as such. John Money reported the case as a success, and used it as evidence that gender identity is environmental. However, it was later revealed that David had never identified as female, and began living as a male at age 15. He suffered from suicidal depression starting at 13, and eventually killed himself at 38.
    • This ended up being Ripped from the Headlines on Law & Order: SVU with a set of identical twins. One of them was this and ended up raised as a girl. Eventually they find out and plot to kill the psychologist who tried to psychologically reprogram one of them as female claiming Nurture over nature.
    • Ripped again, following Reimer's story more closely, on Mental. The key to a patient-of-the-week's self-immolation attempt lied in his disgust for his female body.
  • Rainer Maria Rilke's mother, in mourning after losing a baby daughter after a week of life, dressed him in dresses throughout his early childhood.

Mixed Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Hansel and Gretel in Black Lagoon were raised to role-play whatever sick scenarios their owner created for them and as the result learned to "switch" gender at will, becoming a dual Creepy Crossdresser.
    • It gets to the point that no one in-universe or out knows the actual genders of the duo. Are they both girls? Boys? Different genders? Rock might know, but he might also have been too squicked out by what was happening to really think about it.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia has Hungary growing up living as a boy, then identifying as a female as she grew up - the trick is that, as a kid, she thought she really was a boy and thought that "we all get one when we get older anyway". Fandom opinions on Hungary's gender range from tomboy to female-to-male transsexual. It's not always safe to comment on it.

Literature
  • The Japanese classic Torikaebaya Monogatari has a brother and sister raised in this way. They go on to careers at court in those roles, but eventually switch to match their birth genders.
    • The story has been adapted as a manga under the title of The Change!.

Live Action Television
  • On CSI, the Freudian Excuse of a Serial Killer is revealed to be a gender identity issue: His father raised him as a boy, his mother as a girl.
  • Interesting example in an episode of Saving Hope. The team is working on gender-reassignment surgery for a transman but have to stop due to a new medical issue that they can't quite figure out. It turns out the patient was born intersex and, while the doctors advised waiting to see which gender the child identified with before performing surgery, the mom decided to make the child female. This is a huge source of guilt later when it turns out that mom made the "wrong" choice when her daughter decides she'd rather be male.

Visual Novels