Halfway between Lady Looks Like a Dude and Dude Looks Like a Lady is a character who in some way defies the conventions of male and female, and no-one can decide which side, if any, the character actually belongs on. Lots of subterfuge always follows, as everyone follows them around to try and determine their gender once and for all. Expect a Gender-Blender Name, and lots of Pronoun Trouble. Usually, their gender will never be revealed, and no-one will be any the wiser, usually subject to The Un-Reveal.
The technical term for this kind of person is "androgyne", from the Greek for "man-woman." Used as an adjective, it's "androgynous".
See also Viewer Gender Confusion, something which invoking this trope may cause to persist even if the character does get a Gender Reveal. Also compare Alien Gender Confusion, when a member of one group seems ambiguous by the standards of another. Compare and contrast No Biological Sex, for characters who have no physical sex, and Hermaphrodite, for characters who have more than one. They may or may not look as androgynous as the ones whose gender is simply ambiguous. Can be one of the attractive things that leads to Everybody Wants the Hermaphrodite. There's also Purely Aesthetic Gender, for characters whose assigned genders are trivial for gameplay.
Compare Crossdresser, who may be attempting to invoke this trope. Do not confuse this with Ambiguous Gender Identity, which is about ambiguously transgender characters. Also do not confuse with characters having non-binary gender; this trope is about unknown gender.
A No Recent Examples rule applies to this trope. Examples for episodic works shouldn't be added until end of season for the season introducing the ambiguity (or after 3 months, for episodic works without seasons). This is to allow time for the story to develop the character and resolve ambiguity. There is no waiting time for non-episodic works.
- It's Happy Bunny: Happy Bunny is unisex and has no official gender.
- One of PETA's mascots, a chick named Nugget, flip-flops through genders. The site refers to it as male, and some early material with it shows it in a masculine role, but sometimes Nugget has been shown as a girl. His voice is childish and gender-neutral too.
- In a 2000 television ad for Clarica, promoting the concept of clarity in how they sell insurance, a man hurries into a busy upscale bar looking for the bathrooms. He finds them, but instead of the door signs for "Men" and "Women", there are two abstract paintings he can't interpret. Then he hears a flushing noise and one of the doors opens. The person leaving the bathroom is androgynous, and his dilemma is unresolved.
- Feetface, the mascot of Noggin from 2002 to 2003, was explicitly not referred to with any pronouns in promotional material, but their voice sounded noticeably feminine.
- Omega Mart: The Employee-In-Training character from the training videos is perfectly androgynous. They have a feminine voice and what looks like small breasts, but a square frame, no noticeable muscle, and a masculine haircut, potentially because the Employee represents all future Omega Mart employees.
- Abaporu: The painting's subject is intentionally lacking many facial features and has a very androgynous body, making its sex very hard to determine.
- One of the many riddles of The Sphinx: Is the sculpture's head a man's or a woman's? Looks kind of manly, but it's missing the intricately coiffed beard that ancient Egyptian men sported. Bits of an alleged beard have been found, but given the lack of damage to the chin, it's likely that it was added on later and then fell off.
- Also present in depictions of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. She's often depicted with the pharaoh's ceremonial beard, but with a feminine face and breasts.
- The Scream: The central figure is very androgynous and slender. It also lacks hair and pretty much any feature other than its anguished expression. As a result, it could be of any gender.
- In Death of Sleep, the Comic-Book Adaptation of Bloodborne, the main character at one point has their very androgynous appearance commented upon by Iosefka, who muses that she's never been able to tell if the Hunter is a man or a woman. They answer her with the words "I am a Hunter."
- Chlorophylle: It was unclear in the first issues if Torpille la Loutre (Torpedo the Otter) was male or female. As loutre is a feminine noun, Torpille is often referred as a "she" but lacks feminine characteristics such as eyelashes. From la Revanche d'Anthracite, Torpille is clearly female.
- Gender Queer: A Memoir: Maia is happy when other people are unsure of eir gender or e's been mistaken as a boy, as it suits em as nonbinary. E achieves this with androgynous clothing and hairstyles. However, it often doesn't work so e's called "she", but Maia's usually too shy to correct this.
- The Invader Zim (Oni) comic series features Recap Kid, who gives a (suitably manic and inaccurate) Previously on… at the beginning of most issues. Jhonen Vasquez wrote the character's dialogue for the first issue, but commented "He (or she? I never specified and Aaron Alexovich‘s art keeps it mysterious)..." For what it's worth, Recap Kid has eyelashes, but when asked if this makes them a girl, story artist Megan Lawton responded "Recap Kid is a kid."
- Yazz in Justice League of America was an alien who looked like a blue pterodactyl in a vest. When The Flash asked "Don't you miss the female of your species?" Yazz replied "What if I am the female of my species?" Wally then kept badgering the alien to say whether or not that was a joke, and Yazz found this need to know so intriguing that they decided to leave it ambiguous so as to continue observing the behaviour.
- In Red Robin, the Council of Spiders member code named "Goliath" is large, vaguely humanoid with spider-like attributes, of unknown possibly extraterrestrial origin and never addressed with gendered pronouns.
- Desire of the Endless in The Sandman (1989) has no fixed sex, and is androgynous, fluctuates between all sexes. Being the anthropomorphic personification of desire, to the reader (and to presumably most people who perceive it) Desire usually shows a mix of traditional gendered traits, such as a suit and tie with feminine facial features and lipstick.
- Indigo of Sovereign Seven was said to be able to swap between male and female at will.
- Weapon Hex: It's never stated whether the blue-skinned humanoid sacrificed in the opening scene is male or female.
- Beetle Bailey: Discussed. Beetle wonders out loud whether a random long-haired passer-by is a girl or a guy. Killer sneers that if you can't even tell, he's not interested either way.
- The title character of Krazy Kat had their stated gender change every other strip, something which factored into the very surreal tone of the setting. Herriman described Krazy as "androgynous, but willing to be either". In-strip, Krazy did get called "him" often, but the mannerisms were either way. However, Krazy was female in the 1962-63 animated series.
- One The Far Side strip showed a group of jellyfish in the ocean, with two outhouses, each with identical pictures of jellyfish on them. The caption below it reads "Only they know the difference".
- Played for Laughs in one of the later Peanuts strips, the day after Halloween, where Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus were talking:
- Played with in The Tale of Solaron: being a Snake Person, Solaron's gender is hard for humans to tell, leading one of the party to convince the elf in the party that Solaron is female for a joke.
- Brox in With Strings Attached seems like a 5-year-old child who dresses to create an impression of indeterminate gender. Turns out the body is male and the soul is female, which explains why the Baravadans use the genderless pronoun “sar” to refer to everyone. Also, the god Ardav.
- The Last Wizard in The Keys Stand Alone, when he/she first appears on the scene, is dressed and smeared in such a way as to completely blur her/his gender. After the four manage to de-curse the Last Wizard, the person is able to behave normally, and the gender is revealed as female—at least in this current incarnation.
- Derrick in Adventures of the Writer, despite using a male name, is specifically stated to be of unknown gender.
The story does sort of hint that they are female, mentioning that they cannot take Wolfie's advice on principle because he is "a straight male."
They does also lead a horde of fangirls, with no definite males among their ranks.
- The Guidestuck character Cal Strider. All that we know about their gender is that he/she got extremely angry at being called "Mr. Strider".
- Ashes of the Past gives us the Lake Trio, who refuse to clarify their gender beyond stating that "it's obvious" and may be clueless that others don't think so, and then there's Mew, whose sex is unknown, and uses both masculine and feminine pronouns because (s)he finds binary gender boring.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, the Conduit's gender hasn't been revealed yet and it is always referred to as 'he/she/it.' It's implied that he may not even be human.
- In Bad Future Crusaders Babs Seed has to ask what Bright Eyes' gender is since all changelings look the same. She settles on calling him a "he" when he doesn't bother to answer.
- In the original Dante's Night at Freddy's Bonnie is never given a gender-specific pronouns, though it is identified as a he after confirmation in Five Nights at Freddy's 2. The Marionette is treated similarly before being revealed as a he.
- In Movie Night At Freddy's, Bonnie the Bunny is referred to with 'they/them' in order to adhere to the now-extinct AU created by Rebornica (and to avoid fan debate about Bonnie's gender).
- Invoked In-Universe in the Five Nights at Freddy's Alternate Universe Fic, Something Always Remains when Mike wonders if Toy Bonnie's redesign was an effort to better match the character's girly name, and again when Vanna picks up on the fact that Spring Bonnie, at that point assumed to be a he, was originally built as a she. This becomes plot important later when it's revealed that the character was based off the woman who built and worked the suit, and later versions of Bonnie made the character male as part of the rebrand after her death. It gets even more complicated when the ghosts haunting the suit don't always match the current presented gender.
- The Puppet is only ever referred to as "it," and Mangle is never referred to as a specific gender, though like with Toy Bonnie, the redesign compared to the original Foxy gets noted In-Universe.
- Camphor Effect: Neither Iratus nor Istlek have confirmed genders. The other trolls actually end up arguing about this.
- In the Worm fanfic A Skittering Heart The villain Circus is embodies this trope. The identification of Circus as male or female shifts depending on the character observing and no one, not even Circus, is definite about their gender. This is implied to be one of their super powers, to be able to switch gender or pick anything in between during their interlude.
- In Reverse the bijuu don’t actually have any gender, but Kurama tends to default them all as male. It isn’t until he meets the Seven Tails and Two-Tails, that he realizes that some identify as women.
- In A Gem, a Human, and a Baby, Greg's next-door neighbor is referred to only using the "they" pronoun and their appearance is not described in any way.
- Robin, the protagonist of Alterity, has their gender specified as 'borl'.note Characters swap between referring to them with male terms, female terms, and gender-neutral terms.
- In Fire and Shadow, Mistystar and Firestar's kit Bluepaw is accidentally referred to with both male and female terminology.
- Cultivating Empathy points it's rather hard to peg Lan Xichen as male when you're seeing him for the first time, since he's a Long-Haired Pretty Boy wearing robes. The confusion only clears when people are looking closer.
- In Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus, when Specter (male) and Easter (non-binary) accidentally perform a Fusion Dance, they end up as a being called "Harmonious Storm". They're given "they/them" pronouns but it's unknown if it's because it's two beings or it reflects Easter. The co-author reveals that they are considered Intersex however.
- In Shane Acker's 9, the twins 3 and 4 don't have any discernible gender. While they are 8-inch-tall automatons, the other ragdolls clearly identify as male or female, 3 and 4 are never referred to as either.
- People are STILL debating the genders of some of the appliances (especially Toaster) from The Brave Little Toaster. On the Disney wiki, several of them have entire sections of their articles devoted to evidence of their genders.
- The genders of Aunt Sarah's pet Siamese cats Si and Am from Lady and the Tramp are never revealed, although they are both voiced by a woman, Peggy Lee, their voices are just androgynous enough to be either.
- Simba and Nala's cub at the end of The Lion King. The gender of the cub is never stated however the way they look highly suggests that they're male (only male cubs in the series have whiskers and ear markings). A series of books released after the film came out had the cub as a male named "Kopa". The sequel film, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, however has the cub as a female named "Kiara". The film also noticeably changed the cub's design to look female, suggesting a Gender Flip retcon. In production Kiara (then called "Shani") had a twin brother named "Chaka", which could have handwaved the issue; however, he was scrapped in production.
- In the bonus features on the DVD for The Incredibles had profiles of all the deceased superheroes, one of which was Macroburst, who was noted for being androgynous. Even the National Supers Agency wasn't sure of the gender, with Macroburst being referred to as "he/her" in the profile. In addition, Rick Dicker also adds that Macroburst's audio file was damaged and deemed unfit for presenting, so we never hear Macroburst speak. The video game, LEGO The Incredibles claimed that Macroburst was male.
- The Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise: The only obvious sexual characteristics that identify them as any gender; the Queens are all female, while the Drones and Warriors are male and asexual, the species itself being in fact hermaphrodite. The Drones and Warriors have been referenced with masculine pronouns, such as; the Alien from the first movie.
- After playing the trans woman Dil in The Crying Game, Jaye Davidson was cast as Ra in Stargate precisely to be ambiguously gendered.
- Dr. Crow from Carry On Spying, who is portrayed by a female actress, yet dubbed by a male voice actor in a Funetik Aksent. It even confuses other characters, who don't use pronouns to describe the villain.
- The archangel Gabriel in Constantine (2005) dresses as a man, but is played by Tilda Swinton, made to look as androgynous as possible.
- The Dark Crystal:
- SkekEkt the Ornamentalist. Word of God states that while there are no specifically female Skeksis (they're all meant to be an uncomfortable combination of both genders), skekEkt is the most effeminate.
- Aughra too is meant to be a combination of male and female genders, being a large, burly, mustachioed humanoid with the voice of a bossy old lady and a feminine-sounding name.
- Godzilla: With the exception of Mothra, all of the kaiju are actually this in the original Japanese films. All of them, including Godzilla, are referred to only with neuter pronouns, and giving the monsters explicit genders is almost exclusively the result of American dubs/adaptations. Most tend to be referred to as male, simply by default, although applying biological sex to some of the more alien ones like Hedorah, Destoroyah, or Shin Godzilla is probably a moot point.
- This was the entire joke of It's Pat!, that tried to exaggerate the idea and make it funny. Formerly a skit from Saturday Night Live about a character named Pat with ambiguous gender, the movie had them fall in love with Chris, a character who also had an ambiguous gender. (The Pronoun Trouble alone comprised half the jokes.)
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gimli says, "Dwarf women are so alike in voice and appearance that they're often mistaken for dwarf men. This in turn has given rise to the belief that there are no dwarf women and that dwarves simply spring out of holes in the ground, which is of course ridiculous." (Aragorn adds to this, "It's the beards.")
- Briefly parodied in a scene of Mars Attacks!, with the person at the press conference who asks if the Martians have two genders, like humans.
- The Ghost of Christmas Past from The Muppet Christmas Carol appears as a childlike creature whose gender is never stated. The spirit in the original novel is described as looking like a cross between a child and an old man -– though always referred to as "it," not "he" –- but is voiced by a girl in the film.
- Pacific Rim: The kaiju are referred to by nuetral pronouns (it/its) in the film itself, and it's probably an exercise in futility to try to apply human gender binaries to extra-dimensional aliens. Nonetheless, Fanon has given most of the major kaiju genders:
- Otachi is the only one with a confirmed gender, with her being pregnant and Word of God confirming she's female. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that otachi is Japanese slang for a masculine lesbian (Though the intent behind the name was because it's also Japanese for greatsword).
- Aside from Otachi, Onibaba is also commonly considered female by the fandom, due to her name being Japanese for "demon hag".
- Generally, most of the kaiju (Trespasser, Knifehead, Leatherback, Scunner, and Raiju) are interpreted as male, though Scunner occasionally is interpreted as female.
- Yamarashi, while not seen in the film, is referred to as male by Newt, one of the world’s leading kaiju biologists and anatomists. It’s unknown if he was anthropomorphizing the kaiju via giving it human pronouns, though, giving Newt’s status as The Xenophile. It’s also worth noting that Newt refers to Otachi as male at one point, though he also later uses it/its pronouns for her, and this is before he knew she was pregnant.
- Slattern and Mutavore change genders based on which fan you talk to. Slattern is considered male by some due to the fact that he’s the leader and the largest, while others say she’s female due to her name being an antiquated term for whore. Mutavore’s incredibly strange looks, on the other hand, leave their gender up for individual interpretation, though it should be noted that their character folder on This Very Wiki uses female pronouns for her.
- Some fans argue that because the kaiju are genetically-engineered clones, and the only one with a confirmed gender is female, then they should all be female. Other fans stick to using it/its or they/them for all the kaiju.
- Pokémon Detective Pikachu: Pokémon do usually have genders, but it's generally hard for humans to tell. Mewtwo (who has No Biological Sex in the games) blurs this further by being voiced by both a male and female actor at the same time.
- In Star Wars cosmology, the Hutts are actually genderless (being hermaphrodites) but most are referred to by either "he" or "she" depending on the Hutt's own personal preference. Other species, like the Verpine, don't have the same concept of gender most species would, leading to gender-neutral terminology as "younglings" and "gentlebeings" being in common use, particularly in the Republic.
- The Dinobots in Transformers: Age of Extinction are all new versions of the classic characters (except newcomer scorn) and have distinctly male robot modes. Yet, in Transformers: The Last Knight, there are three baby Dinobots as well and an implication that they were sired somehow by Grimlock, Strafe, and Slug. This brings the Dinobots' genders into question, especially considering that in the Bayverse Cybertronians are suggested to have a much more... human-like method of reproduction.
- Vidocq intentionally leaves the true sex of the Alchemist vague for most of the film. The character is covered in loose black robes and wears a head-covering mask. The letters written by the Alchemist vary from demonic threats to feminine coyness, and the character's shrill, metallic voice sometimes has a distinctly feminine edge, especially the moans in some battle sequences. All these are Red Herrings. The Alchemist is male.
- Dr. Haru Tanaka on Bones has a deep voice and a gender nonspecific style of dress. They requested that no one use any gendered pronouns to refer to them. Despite that, the team refuse to accept them as agender, most of the team arguing that, despite Dr Tanaka's known lack of gender, they must be male or female.
Angela: That doctor, dude or dudette?
Hodgins & Sweets: I dunno.
- This is established as a choice on Dr Tanaka's part, and both Dr. Brennan and Dr Sweets, naturally, accept it at face value.
- Doctor Who: The Judoon all look extremely similar underneath their helmets, and are all voiced by Nicholas Briggs. "Fugitive of the Judoon", however, implies that Judoon Captain Pol-Con-Don might be female when the Thirteenth Doctor offers to talk with them "woman to woman".
- Also, canonically, all of the Time Lords are said, by the Doctor themself, to be much less interested in what gender anyone might be, or not be. In fact, they fairly often mix up male, female, and nonbinary companions with one another and even fail to notice when their own new regeneration presents a female appearance for the first time. It is said that a fellow Time Lord, The Corsair, would be happy to present as any gender at all, but never felt like themself after a regeneration, until they got their old tattoo done again.
- Isabel on HawthoRNe. Aside from the name, it's hard to tell.
- One episode of Jonathan Creek has a police officer of unknown gender. Creek and Maddy spend the episode following them around to find out their name, to see which toilets they use, etc. By the end of the episode both Creek and Maddy have reversed their opinions of the officer's gender, leaving them (and the audience) none the wiser. Neither bothered to ask the officer, Sgt Richie, nor considered the possibility that Sgt Richie might be nonbinary.
- The sex of Hal and Lois' baby on Malcolm in the Middle was kept under wraps to the point that, when the writers couldn't just keep calling it "the baby", they revealed the name as Jamie.
- A Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featured a '50s "educational" short called Mr. B Natural, which appeared to have a woman playing the title role. Joel and the 'Bots had a lot of fun riffing over his resulting androgyny, and devoted a whole host-segment sketch to the question of exactly what he was supposed to be. Wikipedia mentions that photo captions in C.G. Conn's magazine refer to the character with he/him pronouns, clearing any confusion.
- The Saturday Night Live character Pat appeared in multiple sketches devoted to this trope, ultimately scoring a feature film, It's Pat!. Pat is also in an on-again/off-again relationship with another ambiguous character, Chris.
- In one segment, there's Pat's equally-ambiguous parent, Frances, whom Pat refers to by first name, due to the fact that Frances had to act as both mom and dad to Pat after Jean left the family.
- Fans often point out one of Pat's last sketches, in which Pat tilts her head back slightly when kissed, as evidence that the character is a woman. This was unintentional by the actress, Julia Sweeney, but she decided that Pat was officially female for this reason.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Person of Indeterminate Gender is played by a man who wears primarily women's clothing.
- In Loriot's sketch Weihnachten bei Hoppenstedts the gender of the child is deliberately left vague, and as the child is only known by the nickname "Dicki" ("Fatty") there is no way to tell. (Dicki was actually played by a young girl wearing unisex clothing and a thick pullover, but that has no bearing on what the character was supposed to be).
- David Bowie built much of his career on this. He also used it in his song "Rebel Rebel," where even the character's mother is "not sure if you're a boy or a girl."
- Annie Lennox from the Eurythmics got some heat over looking a little more masculine than some would prefer.
- Gorillaz bassist Murdoc has a pet raven named Cortez. The name is masculine and Murdoc refers to it with male pronouns, but he also mentions it laying eggs. Either he or the writers are doing some Artistic License – Biology. Then again, it's very hard to tell the gender of ravens, and it doesn't really matter except to other ravens.
- "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger:
"Most times you can't hear 'em talk
Other times you can
All the same old cliches
Is that a woman or a man?
And you always seem outnumbered
You don't dare make a stand"
- Visual Kei:
- Yoshiki until he dropped the style somewhat in the mid 1990s and hide of X Japan were some of the Trope Makers in Visual Kei.
- Mana◊ of Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois. It doesn't help that he never lets anyone hear his voice in public.
- Hizaki of of Versailles and Jupiter. His late Versailles bandmate, bassist Jasmine You, was equally so.
- Kaya. The contrast between his singing and speaking voices only adds to the confusion.
- The 2010s bring Leoneil of the band Vaniru.
- "Sunshine and Summertime" by Faith Hill:
- The people who the main protagonist had one night stands with in "You Can't Do That" by KT Oslin:
"Well, let's talk about my love life
It used to be so free
If I saw something I wanted
I just drag it on home with me"
- In "3", Britney Spears isn't specific as to whether she's suggesting an mmf bisexual, mfm, mff or an all girl threesome:
- "Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?", by '60s garage rock band The Barbarians.
- Scorpions' "He's a Woman, She's a Man" from their Taken By Force album has the narrator extremely confused and extremely attracted to the extremely androgynous person they met on the street. They spend the whole song confused until the last refrain where we learn that it is a woman.
It turned around right then and looked at me
I said oh no, it really couldn't be
It was a man, it was a woman, too
- Alternative R&B duo Rhye are notable for singer Milosh's androgynous vocals.
- The Vocaloid characters Hime and Mikoto don't have an assigned gender, since their lore states spirits are genderless by default. Further muddying the waters is that their motif was partially inspired by fellow GYNOID co. vocal flower, whose androgyny theme references real life flowers' hermaphrodidic qualities.
- "Your Woman" by White Town features the chorus lyrics "Well, I guess what you say is true / I could never be the right kind of girl for you / I could never be your woman". The ambiguity? The song is sung by a man. Debate over whether the song is sung from a male or female perspective continues to this day, with Word of God providing several possible interpretations.
- Animusic: Discussed in the directors commentary on the second DVD. Wayne is open to the possibility of the red robot from Starship Groove identifying as female.
- The music video for "Lightning Crashes" by Live features an androgynous-looking angel (played by a woman) guiding human souls from death to rebirth.
- Eurovision Song Contest:
- The winner of 2007, Marija Serifovic for Serbia confused many, but seen from her name, she's a woman. The runner up, Ukraine's Verka Serduchka is a drag queen character of comedian Andriy Danylko, who is a man.
- Serbia's 2010 entry, Milan Stanković, is a man, but from the way he carried himself and dressed for the show, many were also confused.
- Winner of 2014, Austria's Conchita Wurst, is a drag queen persona used by the male Thomas Neuwirth, who considers himself a woman when in the persona but not otherwise.
- Angels are often played as this, if not unambiguously female or Pretty Boys, though in the original texts they are always referred to as male, possibly just for convenience sake because there is no clear reason why they would even have a gender anyway. Except in the specific case where they are mentioned that one group of angels has "the loins of men" and who took "wives of the daughters of man." Beyond that, no other mention is made or needed, and several angels are described in ways that are decidedly not humanoid.
- The Jewish God comes off as this to those who know enough Hebrew. Most if not all of "His" names and titles (such as Father and Lord) are male, and the religion is usually patriarchal, but many of the god's attributes such as "His" spirit, breath, presence or wings are described in feminine terms due to the Semitic languages' grammatical gender. It is not so noticeable in English due to its lack of gender outside of obviously male and female words, but even then God is described as a mother bear at one point. A bit less ambiguous in Christianity, due to many of its texts being in Greek (which doesn't have this ambiguity), the whole Father-Son dynamic — the truly ambiguous member of the Christian Trinity is the Holy Spirit, who is often depicted in a feminine form if given an kind of form at all.
- In Buddhism, Guanyin (known as the God/Goddess of Mercy) is a bodhisattva that is depicted as either male or female. It's not uncommon for Buddhist temples in East Asian countries that have statues that depicts Guanyin as male, while others depict the bodhisattva as female. This is a justified trope, as it represents the limitless transcendence beyond gender, as gender does not have any meaning with Guanyin as long as the person understands what Guanyin represents.
- Jessica of Fat, French and Fabulous, despite having an unambiguously feminine name and no apparent problem with feminine pronouns, makes frequent references to herself using ambiguous or explicitly masculine terms, creating a question mark around her gender that is never fully clarified.
Jessica: I've always identified as a bus.
Janel: I mean, that's less confusing than your current gender identity, to be honest. I would accept you identifying as public transit before I will accept you as a woman.
Jessica: That's fair.
- At ZERO-SUN -- Hikaru Festival -- Flash Revolution, a "Man vs Woman vs KY 3-way match" was booked. Make of that what you will. Also, Lingerie Mutoh was simply billed as "!?".
- It's a Downplayed Trope, but the baby penguin Miss Piggy takes home from Argentina in The Muppets (2015). Piggy uses male pronouns, despite naming the penguin Gloria Estefan. Uncle Deadly uses female pronouns. The truth is unrevealed.
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz previously suggested that all Muppet penguins are "unisex".
- Parodied in Dino Attack RPG. In a shout-out to Team Fortress 2, there is a character named Pyro based off the pyro class. It was firmly established that the character was a man, but his mysterious nature led to some in-universe debates on his gender. When the mask finally came off, Pyro was apparently revealed to be a woman, but then it turned out that she was actually an imposter standing in for her father, the real agent Pyro.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, there are the ormyrr, a non-humanoid race that look like huge worms with big, toad-like heads, and four arms. While they do have genders, it's impossible for members of other races to tell them apart. Most other races use neutral pronouns when referring to them (which doesn't offend them, apparently).
- Luna, Exalted's Goddess of the Moon, is typically identified as female, but is also likely to show up as a hermaphrodite or a man. The Lunar Exalted's powers allow them to be female, male, or neutral as they see fit, and at least one canon Lunar no longer identifies with a particular gender.
- The Planeswalker Ashiok from Magic: The Gathering. This became a sort of contention when both the player's guide, the German translation and the official comic referred to them as "male", but the official stance is that their gender is ambiguous/nonexistent. Considering what exactly Ashiok is...
- New World of Darkness:
- Vampire: The Requiem features the Galloi, a Nosferatu bloodline that decides to trade in "the crawling creepies" for "beauty beyond compare." It doesn't quite work out as planned; they become beautiful and utterly androgynous, but they're so beautiful that they can't possibly be anything natural, and thus still unnerve people. On top of that, a lot of them worship Cybele, and prefer to do so the old-fashioned way.
- A Mage: The Awakening sourcebook (Legacies: The Sublime) describes the Daksha, a Legacy of Mages who seek to ascend to a higher evolutionary stage. That higher form happens to be three-eyed and hermaphroditic, which apparently extends to personality and gender identity. To confuse matters further, they are able to shift to a biologically male or female form at will.
- Also in Awakening, all but one of the ruling Exarchs are referred to alternately as male or female (the exception being the Father, who embodies the divine patriarch). Given that they sloughed off their physical forms to become Platonic ideals of power and subjugation, whatever gender they identified with as human is likely irrelevant.
- Old World of Darkness:
- Tzimisce named character Sascha Vykos is exclusively referred to with the pronoun "it" and is so extensively fleshcrafted that any trace of its original gender, or indeed body, is unidentifiable. A lot of Tzimisce, especially those on the Path Of Metamorphosis modify their bodies in extreme ways in order to distance themselves from their former humanity, but Vykos takes it to a level even other Tzimisce find extreme. As of recently, however, Vykos has taken to referring to themselves as "they," showing a complete divorce from gender while still maintaining a sense of identity (and probably to avoid unfortunate implications as towards non-binary individuals).
- Pathfinder has the Empyreal Lord (basically an archangel) Arshea, whose form "suggests the best traits of both the masculine and feminine" and whom the text avoids referring to with any pronoun at all.
- In Unknown Armies, any avatar of the Mystic Hermaphrodite plays this role to the hilt. Particularly powerful avatars are even able to switch their physical gender daily, making the question unanswerable. The Freak, godwalker of the Mystic Hermaphrodite, is at the point where neither he nor she is the right word — and indeed no one seems to know which gender it used to be, if either. The novel Godwalker reveals it used to be female.
- The Chaos god Slaanesh in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 is referred to (among its many names) as both "She Who Thirsts" and "the Prince of Excess", and is frequently depicted as either intersex or completely genderless, depending on what has the highest chance of turning the viewer into a Nightmare Fetishist. Slaanesh is explicitly all genders and no genders at the same time, as it is the Anthropomorphic Personification of desire, and thus is the most desirable to whomever views it.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has Dharc, the Dark Charmer. There are 4 other monsters with similar names, all of which have been female, but Dharc could easily go either way. According to the French translation, it's a girl; the German translation opts to make it a boy.
- In the Israeli otaku musical And Sushi for Free, the main protagonist is a child of about ten, allegedly the star of some anime, with the ambiguous name Daniel, who looks rather ambiguous, is addressed by people as either and doesn’t seem to mind. Some characters are confused about this with no response, which is somewhat of a running gag that’s quickly dropped, but later turns into a Chekhov's Gun.
- The eponymous Angel in Angels in America is like this. While it can be placed as being on the more feminine side of androgynous, it also has multiple penises and notes that angels don't really have sex or gender in the same way that humans do. Prior Walter still awakens confused after his encounter with it, remarking that in his dream he'd had sex with a woman — adding that the Angel "wasn't a regular woman".
- Mistoffelees from Cats, though he is referred to as a "he", tends to share the choreography of the female cats more than the toms, in several stage versions he isn't matched with anyone at the mating dance, and a line from his signature song implies that "he" has had kittens. In the original T.S. Eliot poem, it's more obvious that Mistoffelees is actually a female cat.
- The play Sylvia, by A.R. Gurney, has a character named Leslie, a person of indeterminate gender, that asks the other characters to assign gender roles to them when they first meet.
- All Beanie Babies made since 1996 come with a descriptive four-line poem on their tags. In most cases, it's obvious that a particular Beanie is canonically male or female: either the poem specifically uses "he" or "she", the name is clearly gender-specific, or the design is a giveaway. (For instance, there are several kangaroos; while only one explicitly uses "she" in the poem, all of the others except Austin are clearly female despite their non-gender-specific names, as they have joeys in their pouches.) However, there are just some cases where the name is gender-neutral and either the poem is in first-person, or it just manages to get to four lines without using a pronoun.
- Every LEGO minifigure pre-90s could technically qualify, especially when using the default "Yellow smiley face". Though largely averted with the town themes that actually have molded hair and more varying faces.
- Pikmi Pops has majority of their characters' descriptions lack the use of pronouns or use they/them or it/its, with only a select few characters using "he" or "she".
- Both The Trash Pack and Shopkins, two blind bag toylines by Moose Toys, had issues with calling characters by various pronouns in various areas of media, leaving it muddy on their true genders. It also doesn't help that pretty much every character from Trash Pack lack eyelashes regardless of gender, while nearly every character from Shopkins have eyelashes regardless of gender.
- Alex Cyprin, the protagonist's boss in Astoria: Fate's Kiss, is an androgynous demigod referred to by the neutral pronouns "they" and "them". They are stated to be gender-neutral.
- In Crown Delights Deli, Jules' face is never shown and their name is short for "Julian" instead of "Julius" or "Julia". They're hardly referred to with pronouns other than Tristan using "they/them" for them once.
- In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the Ultimate Imposter's gender is unknown. They do spend the game disguised as Byakuya Togami, who is male, but when they reveal their real voice, they sound rather androgynous. However, in the prequel Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc, the Imposter's true face and voice are revealed, and they appear quite masculine.
- Feed the Cat: None of the cats' genders are revealed; the only clue is that they're all ginger and eighty per cent of ginger cats are toms.
- I Love You, Colonel Sanders!: It's never actually commented on whether the player is male or female.
- In Reflections on the River, the gender of Zheng, the protagonist, isn't specified — the narration uses singular "they", and so does at least one character. The word "witch" probably causes some people to assume female (not necessarily so, especially historically), while on the other side, Zheng can (depending on what path players choose) impersonate a male nobleman without it seeming odd. A questionnaire put out by the developers actually asks what gender players perceived Zheng to be, so the ambiguity is presumably intentional.
- SOON: It's never really clear whether Atlas is a man or woman. The text always uses third person pronouns for them. Lampshaded by baby!Atlas, who alternatively calls Atlas "Mummy" or "Daddy".
- Umineko: When They Cry:
- Lion Ushiromiya has a deliberately ambiguous gender that is probably essential to the mystery itself. All the pronouns are deliberately written as ambiguous, and even the translations kept them perfectly ambiguous. At one point, Willard even wonders if Lion is a "fairly slender boy" or a "serious, no-nonsense girl". Lion refuses to answer him directly, and Bernkastel confirms that she hid Lion's gender on purpose.
- By extension, Sayo Yasuda, also known as Shannon/Kanon/Beatrice and Lion's Alternate Self, also has an ambiguous gender that is deliberately hidden from the readers. Since Sayo has two female personas (Shannon and Beatrice), one male persona (Kanon) and is stated to have appeared as a man in one game (the Man from 19 Years Ago), their true gender is essentially left to the audience. However, the manga heavily implies that Sayo was designated male at birth but Raised as the Opposite Gender, though even then it's unclear what they identify as.
- And then there's Zepar and Furfur, twin demons who are stated to be of opposite genders, though it's never revealed which is which. They serve as a Greek Chorus in EP6 and EP7 and they represent Lion and Sayo's Ambiguous Genders, as well as Sayo's gender confusion as a whole.
- The Devil in We Know the Devil is referred to at different times with she, he, and it pronouns. Fitting since the devil seems to be different things: self-love, a manifestation of repressed desires and anxieties, a push for a newer, better world.
- The Pink and Blue unicorns in Charlie the Unicorn.
- Dark Secrets of Garry's Mod: Dezső is half-human and half-pony with a masculine name and a feminine body. But their actual gender remains unknown.
- Dezső életrajza (Dezső's biography) tells their origin story where they were origanally a male Scout who got bitten by Rainbow Dash that transformed him into his current state. However Utazás Dezső világába (2. rész) (Journey to Dezső's world [part 2]) reveals they were always half-human and half-pony with its own species existing on another planet. Their biography was only made up so the Magyar Lénykutató Portál (Hungarian Creature Research Portal) would not experiment on their brain.
- Despite having a female body design Breeze Rider from Dusk's Dawn is voiced by a male actor and is most likely male. Still, it's never really made clear.
- Flaky the porcupine from Happy Tree Friends. It was a long-standing debate due to her ambiguous appearance (unlike the other female Tree Friends, she lacks Tertiary Sexual Characteristics). Flaky's voice actress said in an interview that Flaky's female, the official character page lists Flaky's gender as "?", co-creator Ken Navarro loved trolling the fandom by playing up the debate for all it's worth, but the authors eventually settled the debate, as they constantly repeat in interviews that Flaky is indeed a girl, since they admitted they are tired of the trolling already.
- The reclining naked figure from the stop motion short "Hi Stranger". They have a mostly featureless appearance and a pitched-up, androgynous sounding voice, and while they're naked, we only see them from the back. Given how non-descript their design is, it's likely that their gender is meant to be open to viewer interpretation.
- In Inanimate Insanity, Paintbrush is the only contestant whose gender is still a question. Many fans rage that Paintbrush is male or female, however some say Paintbrush has no gender at all. Many who protest they are male refer to when Paintbrush responded "Yeah!" once Nickel asked if they were a guy. However, it was confirmed that they were responding in happiness that they were picked for Team Epic. Many also use the example when Knife mentioned that they could come in handy. It also didn't really help that everybody in II are Animate Inanimate Objects without any Tertiary Sexual Characteristics due to it being an Object Show.
- However, it's later revealed that they're actually non-binary but never mentioned it out of fear of being rejected. But it seems from season 3 ownwards, they're more comfortable sharing this information, as when Yin-Yang has the idea to form an all-boys alliance, Paintbrush flat out states to him that they're non-binary.
- Jaiden Animations:
- Though she defaults to male pronouns for him, Jaiden has confirmed that she doesn't really know if her pet bird Ari is male or female, noting that the only way to know for sure for his species is through a blood test (which costs about 25 dollars). Jaiden has noted that she doesn't really care what gender Ari is and loves them no matter what.
- In her Heartgold/Soulsilver Soullink Nuzlocke video with Alpharad, Jaiden depicts the neighbor character as a Composite Character between Ethan and Lyra, due to her and Alpharad playing as different genders. The resulting design (who Jaiden simply refers to as her neighbor) is very androgynous-looking.
- A majority of the younglings in Star Wars: Galactic Pals are not given any gender notifiers in the show, leaving them ambiguous. As of now, only the Ewok, Rodian, Gamorrean, Tauntaun, Gungan, and Loth-cat are confirmed male, while the Hutt was confirmed female in a description on the DisneyNow app.
- Prima from Of Weasels And Chickens is often thought to be male. Although canonically Prima is referred to mostly by she/her pronouns, according to the Word of God any pronouns are fine "since these animals probably didn't think a lot about gender identity". Although there is a fair amount of Cross-Dressing Voices since the entire cast is female, there isn't a lot of confusion with the other characters.
- Arkn: Legacy: Ryael counts, being a character that presents as both male and female. They also identify as non-binary.
- In the creepypasta I Miss Halloween, it's never specified if the narrator is a woman or gay man (though some story details imply the latter). Many Creepypasta narrators are this due to liberal use of The All-Concealing "I". While many times there are story clues or other characters that hint at or confirm their genders, other times they just avoid confirming it one way or another. The narrator of Mr. Widemouth is a noteworthy example, as they tell the story from the first person perspective and none of the other characters, including the titular Mr. Widemouth, refer to them by gendered pronouns or as a boy or girl.
- The guys of make up a guy can be of any gender, and are referred to with "they/them" pronouns (though earlier tweets use "he/him" pronouns for all of them). This is likely so anybody of any gender can relate to the guys.
- Sweet Tooth from Moshi Monsters. A running joke was that Sweet Tooth would get angry whenever their gender was asked about. There have been some slip-ups where they were accidentally referred to with a gender-specific pronoun, but many of these were edited out.
- Not Always Right: In several stories, the gender of the customer/employee/whatever isn't stated until halfway through. Sometimes, it isn't stated at all. This is usually a result of the site's editors removing such mentions, which can get messy if they miss some. This is nominally to avoid gendered stereotypes being assumed by the reader, especially commentors.
- SCP Foundation
- Agent Diogenes has been exposed to so many magical artifacts that everyone has lost track of their gender, and Diogenes refuses to tell anyone. Diogenes is comfortable living looking and being androgynous, also the only Agent to regularly pass psychological evaluations. Despite this, Diogenes' psychologist is still romantically interested in Diogenes regardless of Diogenes' gender, which is why Diogenes is called in for so many psychological evaluations. Unfortunately, he Cannot Spit It Out and Diogenes is Oblivious to Love.
- SCP-1575 ("Venus Statue"). When a male animal drinks water from SCP-1575 and changes into a human being, the result usually has an androgynous appearance and its genitalia are either nonfunctional or completely missing.
- Avatar Portal's Tera253 has a repeated running gag on whether or not he/she is male or female. Even after the user produced "proof" of their gender, it is still a common running gag that the user plays along with.
- WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.: Before May 2023, Val's gender was purposefully left unknown due to her only being a face. It wasn't until later on when Val was explicitly confirmed to be a female entity, and she was given a more feminine redesign.
- Jamie Carson, codename Heyoka, in the Whateley Universe. Formerly female, s/he is now a intersex due to his/her powers, and looks and dresses very androgynously. This is made worse because Heyoka can gain the powers of spirits, and then physically shifts to look like that spirit, so Jamie has been extremely male (after getting the power of the bear spirit), and extremely female (after getting the power of a female earth spirit). Jamie has been beaten up because of this too, so it's not a good thing.
- Worm has Circus, a mercenary who dresses as a woman in costume and has a male civilian identity. Even Tattletale isn't sure what biological sex Circus is or how he/she identifies.
- In 20 Haunting Halloween Facts by Matt Santoro, Matt talks about how ancient Celts believed that spirits roamed the Earth on Halloween night, and began wearing costumes to avoid being recognized as a man or a woman.
- AFK: It's left ambiguous if Q identifies as male or female offline, as she has alts with both genders in the game world. Q also could be nonbinary (e.g. genderfluid), comfortable with both.
- In Carmilla the Series LaFontaine lives in a female dorm and the other characters refer to them as a woman, but they're quite butch in appearance and they go by their family name because they loath their much more feminine given name, Susan. Word of God is that Laf is non-binary, but because they aren't out yet to the rest of the characters, the show maintains the ambiguity.
- Don't Hug Me I'm Scared:
- Sketchbook has a voice somewhere between a woman and an almost pubescent boy. Word of God hasn't confirmed or denied anything
- The can of spinach from the fifth video has a similarly androgynous voice.
- Team Four Star have said in their Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 playthrough that Frogurt, their Frost Demon character, is omnisex and doesn't associate themselves with any type of gender. Frogurt's character entry uses the singular they pronoun for them.
- P. Monkey, the Companion Cube character from lonelygirl15, has been variously described as a "she", a "he" and an "it", a practice which is finally lampshaded in "I Miss Her" — Bree isn't sure whether to call P. Monkey a boy or a girl.
- Some of the Pets have this: Randice (due to not having facial features, like the rest, and its description is never shown), Wavey (its description is never shown as well) and Roneth (because it hasn't been caught yet).
- Technically the game's protagonist, since neither "Paul" or the game ever refer to it directly.
- In Yandere High School, there is an androgynous psychic named Ellen, unfortunately for Grian, who briefly dates xir, and gets teased about it. Also not helped by Ellen dating another person who wears a full-body suit of armor, Da Pie Lord, who shows up to prom in a dress (over the suit) and also shows interest in Grian.
- Babies. A lot of baby clothing can be gender-neutral, and depending on age and how the parents dress them/cut their hair, it can be difficult to know if a baby or toddler is male or female.
- The human fetus does not have a distinguishable sex for the first several weeks; during this period, short of genetic testing, sexing a fetus is impossible.
- The difference sexes of most animals are either Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism, or largely indistinguishable unless you take a look at their genitals.
- Hyenas have a matriarchal social structure, the female is bigger and more aggressive than the male, and their genitals are almost identical due to the female's usually high level of testosterone, to the point of making ancient people think they were Hermaphrodites or Gender Benders.
- Birds. Usually, either the male is more flamboyant and colorful than the female, as with peafowl, or they look identical but the female is bigger, as with eagles. However, some bird species lack sexual dimorphism (and the genitalia tend to look identical, given that most male birds do not have an external penis), so the only way to tell some for certain is to get a DNA test. Sexing chicks is a full-time job in chicken hatcheries.
- In ancient Egypt, due to the fact that Egyptian vultures have almost no sexual dimorphism, it was believed that all vultures were female, and as such, they were revered, because this in turn meant that vultures were all the result of virgin births.
- Walruses all have thick, bushy whiskers that look like mustaches. Even the babies have them. Both genders also have tusks, as they use them for defense and acquiring food and not in mating rituals like other mammals with tusks and antlers.
- Users on the internet, due to the ease of anonymity. Just because someone has a male or female-sounding name or even refers to themselves as gender specific pronouns means absolutely nothing. This is what started the meme that There Are No Girls on the Internet.
- There is a very rare genetic disorder that causes male children to be born with female looking genitals but male brains before they go through puberty, causing them to be Raised as the Opposite Gender until they grow a penis.
- Transgender people can have this going on from a physical perspective. There are some Trans people who, while they identify with the opposite gender they were born with, still choose to retain certain physical characteristics they were born with (such as a transgender man getting a mastectomy, but choosing to keep the vagina he was born with).
- Transgender individuals who choose not to have sex-change surgery are referred to a "non-operative" as opposed to transgender individuals who have yet to have a sex-change operation but plan to do so, known as "pre-operative". Be aware that many transgender activists take offense to the use of the term "pre-operative" for any transgender person who has not had sex-change surgery but has not stated whether they plan to do so, as it incorrectly presumes all transgender persons want to have the surgery. If you're not sure what the transgender person's plans are surgery-wise then it's been suggested you include both options such "pre-operative/non-operative (pre-op/non-op) transgender person" rather then just assuming or guessing. Note also though that some self-identified transsexual people object to the umbrella label "transgender" and some self-identified transgender people object to being called "transsexual", further complicating things. Some people use the term "transsexual" to refer only to pre-op/post-op transsexuals, with the term "transgender" being a broader umbrella term including those not wishing to have sex-change surgery, for their issue solely about internal gender identity, rather then external sex characteristics.
- There are also non-binary and genderqueer individuals. While not all of them will want to present in an androgynous way, or do so all the time (and with many questioning what presenting androgynously would even mean), this can be a deliberate effect that people want to go for. Some people would do this with just clothing, while others may medically transition in a way that would allow them to appear more androgynously.
- This Twitter post demonstrates one of the issues that can arise from such an appearance.
- Exaggerated with people who are intersex. Born a combination between both sexes physically, while they identify as one, the other, or in some cases neither, they can be, say, a woman with a male voice and lower male genitalia, or have any combination of genitalia.
- In many cases there is significant room for ambiguity as to whether historical people may have been transgender or non-binary, in large part because trans and non-binary issues were frequently not well understood. The French writer George Sand (neé Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) is a good example; she was known for flaunting many of the gender norms expected of women in her day, to the extent that her contemporary Victor Hugo remarked, "George Sand cannot determine whether she is male or female. I entertain a high regard for all my colleagues, but it is not my place to decide whether she is my sister or my brother." (Although she is less widely known now, Sand was actually the most popular writer in Europe during her lifetime, and Hugo was an immense admirer of her work.) Her gender identity might be regarded as non-binary or gender-fluid today, although it is possible that she was also simply cross-dressing and adopting a masculine appearance to gain increased access to venues to which women were often barred.
- Tara Gilesbie, the mysterious author of the infamous My Immortal. They claimed to be a teenage girl, had a female username and the fic's protagonist, Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, appears to be a Self-Insert. However, because My Immortal is generally regarded as an intentionally bad Troll Fic, it is equally reasonable to assume that "Tara" is actually a man trying to parody the mindset of a teenage fanfic writer. This possibility has been exploited by imposters who came forward claiming to be "Tara", and indeed, most people who initially bought into their claims never questioned when these imposters turned out to be male, citing the aforementioned anonymity of the internet as a reason to believe them. We may never know for sure though.
- SUE the Tyrannosaurus is actually this, despite the feminine sounding name, and being commonly depicted as such, there is no evidence of SUE's actual gender. As a result of this, the Field Museum tends to refer to SUE by either they/them pronouns (such as on SUE's official Twitter page), or by their name.
- There was a photo of an androgynous-looking Mikma'q person◊ back in 1880, which caused confusion among anthropologists and debate about what the person's gender was.
- Non-mammalian pets can be like this a lot of the time. Since they do not have external genitalia, there is no way for an owner to determine what their pet’s gender is. The only way for them to find out is to give them a DNA test, and even then, many owners choose not to go through with that.