Super Gender-Bender

A character needs to undergo a complete physical sex change, usually through magic or Applied Phlebotinum, in order for them to access their powers. It is used as a justification to give a gender change to a character who would not ordinarily want one.

This trope gives a new twist to the classic secret identity, as the character not only has to face the responsibility of having great power but also the hardships of living as a new gender.

Might be used to (not-so-)subtly deliver An Aesop about how being yourself is greatly empowering.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden, Rimudo has the ability to switch between male and female forms (he usually stays male), but his Celestial Guardian abilities are only available when he's in his female form.
  • In Kämpfer, Natsuru Senou was chosen to become a Kämpfer. Thanks to this, Natsuru gains great strength and fighting abilities. On the other hand, it's apparently a rule that Kämpfers can only be girls, so any boys that are chosen transform into girls when their powers activate.
  • Oto X Maho is about a boy that becomes a Magical Girl.
  • The Sailor Starlights from the anime version of Sailor Moon also count; their whole transformation sequence involves shifting out of a male form into a female one. (In the manga they were girls the whole time, merely posing as boys while in their civilian identities) and their princess is surprised to see they've chosen male civilian forms when they do find her making this an inversion, as their male civilian forms are not their birth gender.
  • Subverted with Itsuki Myoudouin from HeartCatch Pretty Cure!. Circumstances force her to live as a Bifauxnen, and it's after becoming Cure Sunshine that she slowly figures out what's best for herself. Namely, being both powerful and beautiful. Considering that her designated nemesis is an Ambiguously Gay guy with penchant for fashion, this might be a stealth queer aesop.
  • Inverted in PHD: Phantasy Degree, where the set of Ring of Power MacGuffin allows the user to switch their gender, but decreases their power greatly.
  • An interesting variant in Birdy the Mighty, where the protagonist doesn't really turn into a female superheroic version of himself, but is instead forced to be fused with a female Human Alien superheroine after she accidentally destroyed his original body. As a result, the two actually are separate characters, but share the same body and can switch between their respective appearance according to the situation.
  • Mahou Shounen Majorian is about two boys given Magical Girl powers by aliens. Their sexualities become pretty confused in short order. Especially since one of them is a He-Man Woman Hater in response to being the only boy in a household of bossy older sisters.
  • Mahou Shoujo Ore Gender Flips the usual trend by making the heroine turn into a very toned man to activate her powers. It's eventually revealed that other girls have made that same gender-bending contract, and her crush falls in love with him during a Rescue Romance.
  • Souji Mitsuka from Gonna be the Twin-Tail!! doesn't just change genders whenever he becomes Tail Red, he actually goes from a teenager to a prepubescent child, thus inverting the Older Alter Ego trope.

    Comic Books 
  • From Philippine comics, Zsazsa Zaturnnah is an an effeminate homosexual and the proprietor of a small town beauty salon. He has a huge spiky stone that physically transforms him into a superhuman woman whenever he ingests it and shouts the word "Zaturnnah!". His female form is similar in both powers an appearance to Wonder Woman.
  • Mantra from The Ultraverse. Originally a male warrior, he gained magical powers after his soul was transferred into the body of a woman.
  • In The Savage Dragon, the power to turn into Mighty Man, a Captain Marvel Expy, passed on to Ann Stevens, a nurse who becomes a tall, blond, male superhero when she taps her wrists together.
  • In Alan Moore's Promethea, one of the former Prometheas was a male comic book artist called Bill Woolcott.
  • The HERO Dial in Dial H For Hero will, very rarely, turn a man into a female hero or a woman into a male hero; in the case of "Shocking Suzi", formerly Joe, he lost the dial before he could turn back and remained a superpowered woman for the rest of his life.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is a possibility in the NWOD fan game Princess: The Hopeful. However, this is not necessarily a source of embarassent, since the transformed state is often an idealized version of the person in question. However, they can't just stay transformed permanently because most Nobles don't have that as an option (and the ones that do use the magic that drives them insane).

    Video Games 
  • Espgaluda series: The heroes are already powerful psychics, but gender-changing makes them into even more powerful psychics.
  • Milton from Fable III is male; however, if the hero is female, Milton will swap genders when he assumes the hero's form, as well as gaining the power of a Hero.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's Shiek is either this or Sweet Polly Oliver.
  • In a disturbing variation, Morpheus from Dead-Aim seemingly changes gender when he mutates into an incredibly powerful Tyrant, with an obviously feminine voice, face and figure. The virus that mutated him is even called the TG-Virus. He gains super strength, speed, agility and electricity powers, but that electricity is produced by two organs on his chest that look like breasts. There is absolutely no reason for him to gain organic Combat Stilettos though. Considering what previous TG-Virus test subjects turned out like, Morpheus got off lucky with his new good looks and powers until he sustains too much damage and his Healing Factor goes out of control...

    Web Comics 
  • Elliot from El Goonish Shive acquires a spell that allows him to turn into a voluptuous superheroine. Note that he is already pretty powerful due to his Supernatural Martial Arts and occasional Shapeshifting. He also isn't too bothered by the gender-changing aspect: hanging out with Tedd has made him used to that sort of thing, and besides, superpowers!
  • Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki. The protagonist is an average male Ordinary High-School Student chosen to become a Valkyrie. However due to the fact that all Valkyries are female, he got transformed into a female to access those powers. He gets two new identities: one as a female version of his other self, and the other as an idealized Magical Girl version of that new self.
  • Exposure to Virus-X gave the T-Girls of the Remix Comic version of Jet Dream low-level super powers (enhanced agility, strength, and endurance.) Their exposure was accidental, but a voluntary procedure for recruiting new T-Girls is also described.
  • In Jill Trent, She-Sir Science Sleuth, when Femavium interacts with the spinal fluid of a man, the result is a transformed woman with super powers that seem to vary according to the recipient. Jill gains "girl-brain cells with the proportional density of 58 girls." Another character gains "the flexibility of 45 ballerinas."

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Academy has this as a central premise — in the WhateleyVerse, mutants have about a 1 in 3 to 1 in 6 chance of being Exemplars, and thus having what's called a BIT — Body Image Template. Long story short, these mutants have an idealized shape they associate with themselves, which can be just about anything — including the "wrong" gender. The majority of the stories revolve around a clique of students who had their genders changed during their origin stories, and are part of Poe Cottage — a dorm designed to hide this fact (as well as other LGBI students) from the study body at large.

    Western Animation 
  • Downplayed on Steven Universe: Amethyst fights in wrestling matches as "the Purple Puma," using her Voluntary Shapeshifting to become a larger, beefy man. The fact that she switches gender is pretty much incidental, except that Steven at one point refers to her as "she" and quickly corrects himself.note 

Alternative Title(s):

Gender Bender Superpower