Painted like a brand new Christmas toy
He's trying to figure out if he's a girl or he's a boy"
Due to the blurred stereotypes and myths between transgender people and crossdressers, there are often mixed signals about characters. Transgender people don't identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. A crossdresser may be okay with — or even encourage — being referred to as the opposite sex, but they still see themselves as the gender corresponding to their biological sex.
This trope can apply for a variety of reasons: sometimes, being transgender is implied but never outright said, such as a character who's implied to have transitioned but it's never actually stated in-series or a character who displays signs of gender dysphoria without it being mentioned as such. Alternatively, a Sex Shifter, Hermaphrodite, or someone with No Biological Sex might be ambiguous if it's not clear what they identify as.
By far the most common variant is ambiguity as to whether a character is meant to be viewed as a (usually gay) man in drag or a trans woman, probably because the author doesn't realize that they aren't the same thing. This last problem is becoming a lot less common. Nowadays it's more likely because of cultural differences between the viewer and the author concerning where drag is appropriate. In Western contexts, drag is generally only worn on stage or sometimes as a disguise in comedy works. But in some cultures, it's considered perfectly acceptable for a server to wear clothing usually associated with another gender as part of a workplace uniform. While this would indeed be drag, it might confuse some viewers into thinking that the character is trans since it's not a context where they expect drag to appear. This happens for much the same reason that movies from the 30s got away with homosexuality: people don't even consider the possibility that a person could actually prefer the clothes of another gender/identify as another gender. The other reason that there can be confusion is that many characters (and some people in real life) use drag as a way to indulge when they feel it is too dangerous to come out of the closet.
Characters who are unambiguously non-binary go under transgender. If the character's gender is not ambiguous in the story itself, but a significant portion of the fandom prefers to headcanon them as transgender, you may be looking for Trans Audience Interpretation.
See also Ambiguously Gay and Ambiguously Bi for sexual orientation variants. Compare Ambiguous Gender and Viewer Gender Confusion, where a character's physical sex is something that the audience simply doesn't know.
- In Attack on Titan, Hange Zoe's gender is never explicitly identified in the text, leading to many fans wondering if they are nonbinary. Word of God is that "either [pronoun] is fine."
- In Black Butler, Grell Sutcliff's character interview in the Kuroshitsuji Character Guide says she wishes she was born female, wishes she could get a sex change and laments her inability to have a child. She is also bisexual. While she makes frequent advances on male characters, she also declared once that she was in love with Madam Redin fact, one of the reasons why Grell was drawn to her was because Madam Red also couldn't give birth due to having gone through a hysterectomy after a horrible accident. While this mostly points towards her being transgender, author Yana Toboso may intend to have Grell viewed as an okama or Drag Queen since she consistently uses masculine pronouns when speaking of Grell in the third person, and she and Grell both directly use the word "okama" in her art and blog posts, suggesting that Grell's feminine speech and pronoun use may be an example of onee-kotoba, the effeminate dialect used by gay men and male crossdressers. It's a contentious issue in the fandom, to say the least, with the murky Word of God and language barrier issues muddling it further.
- Giselle from Bleach was called a crossdresser once (though it may have been an insult). She uses "boku" as a pronoun, but her female friends treat her as one of them anyway.
- Akane from Bokura no Hentai hated dresses as a toddler (though as a middle schooler shows no issue with them), had a negative reaction to starting her period, and mentioned she doesn't like being a girl once. Her disliking being female probably was her complaining about her period though, as when her trans girl friend becomes offended she regrets what she said.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, Ruby Moon is assumed to be female, but it's revealed that she is technically genderless. She only chooses to present herself as female because she prefers women's clothing. She gets mad when Spinel calls her a "cross-dresser."
- Renamon from Digimon Tamers uses female pronouns, and her Mega/Ultimate form, Sakuyamon, is visibly a woman, but at one point states that Digimon don't have genders.
- Yggdrasil is referred to by male pronouns but is voiced by a woman and its Core form looks feminine in Digimon Savers; it also took the form of a human girl in Digimon Next.
- Shion from Family Compo is ambiguously genderqueer, possibly trans male. As a child, she was allowed to present as either a boy or girl whenever she pleased but seems to mainly live as a woman, though she wishes to go to college as a man. It's left ambiguous what her sex is but she's shown buying tampons at one point, which strongly suggests that she's biologically female.
- Fushigi Yuugi gives us Nuriko. Nuriko could be interpreted as a bisexual crossdressing man, or as a trans woman, or (as Miaka puts it) as simply Nuriko. It's...best not to bring this up with fans.
- Gatchaman Crowds:
- Rui Ninomiya was assigned male at birth and generally presents as a boy but is frequently seen in female clothing and a long blonde wig in his "LOAD" persona so he's not identified as the creator of the CROWDS system. He seems to use this outfit too often to simply be using it as a disguise, and Hajime and the G-Crew alternate between using neutral and masculine pronouns for him, so it's not clear what Rui considers himself.
- Most of the alien characters are gender-ambiguous: Paiman is a panda-like creature with no visible sexual characteristics who speaks in a masculine manner but is voiced by a woman, OD resembles an effeminate gay man but never explicitly states a gender identity either way, Berg-Katze is androgynous in appearance, manner, and style of dress.
- Hato from Genshiken is introduced as a Camp Straight Yaoi Fanboy who crossdresses. There is some ambiguity to whether he's cisgender or not.
- Kaito from Himegoto - Juukyuusai no Seifuku is introduced as a Creepy Crossdresser; however, as the manga continues a number of implications crop up that he might actually be transgender, since he has liked wearing women's clothing from a young age and, despite presenting as a male at school, tries to distance himself from his masculinity. Most telling is how he shows disdain for his genitals and freaks out when someone notices him growing stubble. It's somewhat complicated for him because he's attracted to girls and very popular, but most girls are only attracted to him as a guy. By the end despite a few characters briefly asking him about it, Kaito never outwardly defines how he identifies, but he does fully embrace his desire to dress as a girl.
- Hunter × Hunter:
- Neferpitou, one of the Chimera Ants, has a gender identity that is never defined either way. They use "boku" and in the animated versions they have a distinctly curvy body with a hint of a bust-line, but given that they're an ant it's entirely possible they don't even have a gender or physical sex in the conventional sense, and most translations, including the unofficial wiki, settle on "they" as a pronoun.
- Alluka is referred to as male by most of her(?) family, but female by Killua, the only sibling who isn't freaking terrified of Alluka's Superpowered Evil Side. Alluka also generally dresses and acts feminine. This would theoretically point to a transgirl unaccepted by most of their family, but Killua never calls anyone out for referring to Alluka as male, despite calling them out for all of their other ill-treatment.
- Hazumu from Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl was assigned male at birth, permanently transformed female, and lived as a girl thereafter, but is implied to have been a transgender girl from the beginning and not known it. As a young child Hazumu said she wanted to be her best friend's bride, and after said sex-change, Hazumu readily identifies as female with zero signs of gender dysphoria.
- Kimo-Ota, Idol Yarutteyo:
- The title character was originally a boy named Yousuke, but only they remember this after reality changed so everyone remembers them as a girl named Yoko. Yousuke/Yoko pretty immediately accepts living as a girl, and decides to try becoming an Idol Singer, but it's not clear if they actually identify as one. Their personality remains generally masculine, they only adopt feminine behavior as a means to further their idol career, and occasionally treat (other) girls as if they were not one of them (for instance, thinking it would be inappropriate to join them in a sleepover). Internal monologues never have Yousuke/Yoko refer to themselves by either name, though they do use the pronoun ore, contrast with more feminine speech in dialogue.
- Liz Melodine, the idol group's vocal instructor, has a very burly, masculine body, but wears high heel, nail polish, and heavy facial makeup. Nothing specifies if Liz (who Yoko guesses is using an assumed name) is a Macho Camp man or a mannish transgender woman.
- Love Gene XX: Aoi and Sakura both have XX chromosomes and agree with the idea that the Adam/Eve system should be abolished; Aoi thinks that men are strange from what she's seen of archived footage, and Sakura eventually allows herself to become an Eve. However, neither of them object to having to bind their breasts or be referred to with male pronouns — their only major complaint about their roles are that it makes their relationship an illicit, "homosexual" one in-context. The end result is that it's very difficult for many fans to decide if Aoi and Sakura are a lesbian couple in a world that forces them to act as men, or if they're a couple of transgender gay men in a world which forces them to be straight.
- Shao Tzu from Mononoke Soushi started off in masculine clothing and using boku, but after traveling with Tenome they started acting and dressing more feminine, and thinking that Growing Up Sucks. Tenome didn't really treat Sho Tzu as either a boy or a girl, just treating them as a kid with potential in their Voluntary Shapeshifting. According to Word of God the character was supposed to be a boy but grew to be more and more feminine as the story went on. Thus Shao Tzu can be seen as a trans girl.
- Kei's gender identity is not actively discussed in Moyashimon. She is introduced as a male Childhood Friend of Sawaki's before disappearing from the story for several chapters/episodes. The next time she appears, she's working at a local liquor store dressed as an Elegant Gothic Lolita. Sawaki didn't even recognize Kei at first. When Sawaki questions Kei later, she just says that she wants to try various things before going back home and that it just feels right to dress up the way she does. Despite signs pointing towards Kei being a trans woman, she also gets angry when Sawaki confesses to her and combats it by stating that she isn't gay (despite kissing Sawaki and showing signs of liking him in the past).
- No Bra is about a teenage boy named Masato who falls for an effeminate, feminine dressing person named Yuki. The narrative mostly treats Yuki like a boy, but there are odd signs that imply she's actually transgender. The most notable is when she's forced to wear the boy's uniform to school and the others complain, saying she has the "heart of a girl".
- The protagonist of Nozomu Nozomi is an androgynous, feminine boy who gets transformed into a female. Even prior to the transformation there are some signs of him being uncomfortable with being a boy.
- Unlike most examples, Yamato in One Piece isn't the least bit androgynous, appearing to be a beautiful well-endowed woman. However, they are referred to as both the son and the daughter of Kaido, and claims themself to be male. Yamato is either a transgender man who hasn't transitioned yet or a tomboyish Kozuki Oden fangirl naively declaring herself a man so she can be more like her (male) idol. Both interpretations are equally plausible from what's been seen of them so far. Apparently even some characters in-universe aren't sure.note
- Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club is an androgynous girl who's living as a male student at her school due to specific circumstances. She says she doesn't think gender is important, which is just vague enough to have multiple interpretations including that Haruhi might be non-binary.
- Our Dreams at Dusk focuses on a LGBTQ-friendly drop-in center, and one of the patrons is Misora Shuuji, a sixth grader who dresses up as a girl at the center. Tasuku suggests Misora might be a Transgender girl, while Misora himself currently identifies as male but is heavily hinted to have body dysphoria. Haruko points out to Tasuku that what's most important for Misora right now isn't a definite label but a space where he can feel free and safe to explore his identity.
- Kako from Past Future is a Wholesome Crossdresser but seems more comfortable living as a girl. Eventually, his sister actually asks him if he wants to be a girl, and he says no, he just likes being cute and girly.
- Real Account has Kirika Sakuragawa, a moe Sensei-chan who's actually a G.I.R.L.. When asked about their gender identity they weren't sure anymore themself as they had acted feminine online for so long.
- Ren from Sazanami Cherry dresses mainly as a girl, is compared to his transgender older sister, and shows discomfort over the idea of puberty but it's left vague whether he's a Wholesome Crossdresser or is transgender.
- Kaoru, florist and owner of the flower shop Flower Princess, from Tamako Market is voiced by Daisuke Ono but is addressed to as female by others. Despite this, she's also been referred to as an androgynous male in official sources. Many Japanese viewers see her as an "okama" but many English speakers pin her as trans.
- Tokyo Ghoul:
- Tooru Mutsuki who lives as a man, and only Haise and key personnel in the CCG are aware that he is actually a woman biologically. The ambiguous part comes in because there is some implication that he wanted to live as a man because he finds sexual male attention to be disturbing, which could indicate it's not that he identifies as a man, but that living as a man is just more bearable to the alternative (which would mean cis men would look at him sexually) even if he actually identifies as a woman. Muddling it further is how Mutsuki switches between masculine and feminine pronouns when reuniting with Kaneki in re when upset because Kaneki rejected them, and when telling Urie about their feeling for Kaneki they use gender-neutral pronouns to refer to themselves and sometimes wear a suit or gender-neutral clothes. A large part of the problem is that Mutsuki isn't the most stable of individuals. He identified as male at the beginning of re, while his Mask of Sanity was holding up. But it gradually fell apart as the series wore on, and with it, Mutsuki started losing her sense of self; hence the inconsistencies.
- Big Madam was (at least) designated male at birth, but it isn't elaborated on whether she's merely a Creepy Crossdresser or a trans woman.
- Wandering Son:
- Takatsuki. Most of the manga presents her as a counterpart to trans girl Nitori and depicts them as a transgender boy. In high school the line starts to blur and ultimately she comes to the conclusion she would rather live as a girl, though she's still depicted as confused over her gender. Considering the situations surrounding the revelation and the bittersweet way it's presented, fans are stumped. Word of God is that it's up to the reader on whether they see them as trans or not.
- Makoto was this for the longest time. Introduced as a foil to Nitori but never got the same amount of transgender-related focus as Nitori, most fans thought Mako was a Camp Gay Wholesome Crossdresser. In high school it's shown otherwise and she even comes out to her mom. The anime didn't seem to think she was female either as she's dressed as a boy in an Imagine Spot, while the manga parallel has her in a girls uniform.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Yubel is an Intersex draconic monster, and it's not very clear what they even identify as. Their obsessive love for Judai made the 4Kids English dub edit them into a binary woman, but in the original show, they use the pronoun "boku" and call Judai "kimi", a combination commonly used by men.
- Marube from Yuureitou wants to become a woman however it's vague if it's due to being trans or if it is an ill-placed obsession with his lost love mixed with his need to be young and beautiful. The fact Marube is a villainous foil to his actually trans man son, Tetsuo, blurs lines more. The manga leans heavily towards the latter interpretation, especially when comparing Marube to Tetsuo.
- In Demon Knights, Sir Ystin initially insists, despite having feminine features, that they are a man, but later confides that they're actually both male and female after Exoristos professes an attraction to them. During a visit to Hell, their own personal hell was being forced to declare their own gender and sexuality in public, suggesting that they are either genderfluid or nonbinary. This is an apparent change post-Flashpoint, as when they were first introduced in Seven Soldiers of Victory Ystin was unambiguously depicted as a Sweet Polly Oliver.
- DIE: On Earth, Ash (real name Dominic) is a man and in an apparently happy marriage to a woman. In the Magical Land, Ash is a female Emotion Controller who has been in relationships with men. In neither reality do they seem conflicted about their gender identity or indicate they are non-binary.
- Fey Truscott-Sade from the Eighth Doctor Doctor Who Magazine comics is a physically female character who dresses in a very masculine (but not actually male-appearing) way, gives off a general aura of edgy sexuality, and has been seen flirting and making out with both men and women. They have described themselves as an "androgyne", but since they come from the 1930s it's unclear how serious that was.
- Marvel's Loki is an interesting case... the original identified as a man without ambiguity, to the point of getting insulted when people assumed otherwise when he inhabited a woman's body. This changed around their third incarnation (the second was a pre-teen with bigger problems) who, while still defaulting to male, would change gender for no other reason than they could and began identifying as a woman when doing so (Queen, Mistress, Goddess, using "she" etc.) coupled with not minding other characters' judgement of their gender. This made some fans retroactively question the gender identity of the first (how much of it might be a case of an armored closet basically) in spite of his mannerisms.
- In Runaways, Xavin is another interesting case. Marvel was wary about having a lesbian relationship portrayed in a series that they were trying to market towards younger teens, so instead of just giving Karolina a girlfriend, they gave her a fiancee who was capable of changing gender at will and thus sometimes became male and sometimes became female, leaving open the possibility that Xavin might eventually become fully female (in-universe, Karolina usually refers to Xavin with feminine pronouns.) But when that actually happened during Joss Whedon's run, a certain segment of the fandom revolted, because they considered Xavin to be genderfluid, and accused Whedon of erasing Xavin's non-binary gender, so Xavin reverted to being sometimes male and sometimes female, before finally just being put on a spaceship. Xavin also revealed that their race, the shapeshifting Skrulls, in general consider changing gender to be no bigger a deal than changing any other aspect of their bodies. It just so happened that every previous Skrull to have a significant recurring role in a Marvel comic (admittedly, there hadn't been all that many; most Skrulls were Mooks) strongly identified as one gender, even though that's relatively unusual in their species.
- Wonder Woman: In Wonder Woman (1942) Hypnota is physically female but they and their sister usually use male pronouns to refer to Hypnota, they spend most of their time disguised as a male, and when they're not fully disguised wearing a mustache and goatee anyway. They were like this long before surviving a gunshot to the head changed their personality and turned them villainous. Post-Crisis Wonder Woman (1987) gets rid of the ambiguity as that version is Hypnotic Woman and is unquestionably female.
- The Butcher Bird: GEMINI identifies as 'they', and is a Hive Mind of two individuals - one biologically male, one biologically female.
- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: Voldemort reveals during the climax that Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel are, in fact, the same person, with 'Nicolas' being an identity Perenelle created only after stealing the Philosopher's Stone from Baba Yaga. Tellingly, while he ascribes selfish materialistic reasons to almost everything else Flamel has done, all Voldemort says about Flamel having created a different-gendered second self is the fact that it happened, leaving the readers nothing but speculation as to their motives for this one.
- The director of 3 Generations ended up creating confusion during an interview. The film is about a transgender boy named Ray who has been living as male full-time for a while and wants to begin testosterone. After backlash for using a cisgender actress instead of a trans man actor, the director backpedaled and said the film was about a tomboy going beyond the norm.
- Albert Nobbs: Albert and Hubert may be trans men, or simply women living as men. This is never made clear (both do call themselves women at points, but might lack the vocabulary for anything else).
- At the end of Beauty and the Beast, three men get a makeover by animate beauty accessories while fighting the Wardrobe. Two of them run away, while the other actually quite enjoys it. It's never clarified if they're gay, In Touch with His Feminine Side, or transgender.
- But I'm a Cheerleader: Jan, one of the girls at the ex-gay camp, is extremely butch, and has a mohawk and a mustache. In the end, she decides that she was never gay in the first place, and leaves. Many viewers interpret her as being FTM trans or genderqueer.
- The "queer buddy movie" By Hook or By Crook is written and directed by two transmasculine people, who play both of the protagonists, but the film deliberately leaves their exact identity ambiguous. They usually refer to each other as "he/him", "guy", and "man", but when a child asks Shy "are you a boy or a girl?", Shy answers "both". In a later scene, Val explains to Shy, "I'm a two-for-one, a special." These scenes can be interpreted as evidence that these characters have a bigender or genderfluid identity.
- Tom from The Cement Garden is a boy who would rather be a girl, although it's unclear if he's actually trans or just thinks he wouldn't get bullied if he were a girl. In any case, his sisters eventually give him a makeover, and his best friend William takes a new interest in him.
- In Dasepo Sonyo, the first time we see Big Razor Sister, they are dressed as a schoolgirl, but Poor Girl initially calls them "Mister". Later, Poor Girl refers to them with feminine pronouns. However, much later in the movie, we see Big Razor Sister dressed as a man. Big Razor Sister's exact gender is never truly specified (contrast this to Double Eyes, who is explicitly a trans girl).
- The Adjudicator in John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum is played by a non-binary actor and isn't referred to using pronouns by the other characters, but their gender or lack thereof is never brought up in-universe.
- Near the end of Ma Vie En Rose Ludovic meets a kid who goes by Chris but who is later revealed to be a girl named Christine. When her mom makes her wear a princess dress she is unhappy and switches outfits with Ludovic, who is a trans girl. The movie makes it unclear if Chris is a tomboy or also transgender.
- Adam from The Miseducation of Cameron Post is two-spirit and was sent to a gay conversion camp by his step-father. "Two-spirit" can refer to someone's gender expression, gender identity, or sexuality.
- Rambo is played by a female actress (who sometimes goes by "Matt"), but her name is a reference to a male character, she wears her hair cropped short and she never engages in any feminine activities like the other female Monos. Wolf says that she's "like a brother" to him, and she seems at ease kissing both him and Lady. The character was originally written as male, and the director has referred to the character as "post-gender."
- Dog wears his hair long and is the only Mono with jewelry: a nose ring and a pierced eyebrow. After Wolf and Lady's wedding, he drunkenly dons fishnet stalkings, shakes his butt suggestively, and gripes that his mother called him a "slut." It's not clear whether he identifies as female or was just messing around.
- Sappho: Sappho calls herself a boy in some instances and often dresses as a man. It's ambiguous then if she identifies as male, or simply means she's taken a "man's role" by having sex with another woman, acting more boldly, etc. She probably has no concept of being transgender (or similarly bigender, genderfluid, etc.) because it's still the 1920s, making it even less clear.
- Stonehearst Asylum features a background character whom the credits identify as 'Elegant Lady' but is played by a male actor and is called William by one of the nurses. It's never actually addressed whether they are a crossdresser or trans woman, but either way, given both the film's setting (Victorian England) and its themes, wearing dresses and make-up as a person assigned male at birth can be assumed to be the reason they are in the asylum (at the time, either of these would be deemed a mental illness).
- This is a source of debate with Tomboy. It's about a girl who moves to a new town and presents herself as a boy to the other kids. The name of the movie and the ending make it vague whether she's a, well, tomboy or has gender dysphoria.
- In To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, it's heavily implied that Drag Queen Vida doesn't just perform as a woman but wishes to live her life as one, as her character arc revolves around seeking acceptance as her drag persona. The movie is ultimately vague on this point, but it's not unheard of for a transgender person to use drag performance as a stepping stone towards coming out.
- Haganai: Yukimura is initially thought to be a very girly-looking boy until the protagonist sees Yukimura lacks an important male organ in the bathroom. Turns out Yukimura is a girl in body, but wasn't even aware of it because of an erroneous belief that men grow a penis when they become manly enough. Yukimura keeps on insisting to be a boy even after the reveal because "being a true man transcends the concept of biological sex". It's up to interpretation whether it's a case of a girl who has been conditioned to think of herself as a boy or a trans boy.
- Kino from Kino's Journey is biologically female but accepts being referred to as both male and female and looks androgynous.
- Nanana's Buried Treasure has Wholesome Crossdresser Daruku Hoshino whose sexuality and gender identity isn't discussed but is always shown wearing the female uniform and female clothes and acts very feminine. He is hinted to like a female character, but since sexuality and gender identity don't always go together it doesn't mean much. It's basically the definition of ambiguous.
- Inukashi from No. 6. They use the masculine Japanese Pronouns "ore" to refer to themselves. Their gender is ambiguous, but there are implications that they are biologically female.
- Ferris from Re:Zero has contradicting lines implying they're either a Wholesome Crossdresser or a trans woman. The anime adaptation made them a cis boy.
- In Bangkok 8, Fatima underwent a full (and extremely thorough) gender reassignment surgery and adopted a female name, but says that she only underwent surgery because she thought it would help her hold on to her closeted lover and is not much interested in gender theory.
- Bavadin from The Cosmere apparently has some of this going on, when she was first mentioned her gender was not mentioned and fans assumed she was male until Arcanum Unbounded used female pronouns, but Word of God has said her gender is more complicated than that. Also there are entire pantheons in which every god is actually her.
- Enid Blyton:
- George from The Famous Five has traits that go above and beyond what you would normally expect from a tomboy, such as disliking being treated as a girl or often being mistaken for a boy and taking great pleasure in it. She rarely cries, going by the mantra "boys don't cry". She even outright declares that she wishes she wasn't born a girl at one point, although all of this is mostly a reaction to the way her parents are treating her.
- Bill (real name Wilhelmina) from the Malory Towers books. Bill is a tomboy to the core and prefers to be addressed by the masculine form of her name. Her schoolfriends realize what they've got on their hands and are happy to comply, with no fuss being made. Bill's attitude is directly related to her being the only girl among seven brothers and it seems that in direct contrast to only child George, Bill's parents are quite happy for her to be "one of the boys". As a result, she lacks George's bitterness and hostility. The two characters are roughly contemporaneous.
- Jo from Little Women is a tomboy who has more than a few lines suggesting gender dysphoria - such as lines like "I can't get over my disappointment in not being a boy!" and how she dislikes her more feminine full name - though readers generally think she's being confined by the strict gender roles of the day.
- Sergeant Jackrum from Monstrous Regiment has been in the military as a Sweet Polly Oliver for most of his life, and after leaving the military, apparently continues presenting as a man. The story continues to refer to him as "he" even after The Reveal, thus this trope.
- The Power has women developing an organ that allows them to deliver powerful electric shocks. There is a minor character who is biologically male but, owing to a chromosomal abnormality, has the organ and his own Power. This is treated in-universe as a gender-bending taboo and fetish.
- Provenance: The Hwaean people refer to youths with the singular "they" until a Rite of Passage where the child chooses an adult name and declares themself male, female, or nemale. Taucris delayed this until her career path required her to choose; it's implied that she would have preferred not to declare a gender.
- Spark/Ash is introduced in Realm of the Elderlings: The Fitz and the Fool trilogy as Chade's latest Apprentice Assassin. Biologically a girl, they grew up believing themselves to be a boy for their own protection. When informed otherwise, Chade helps them establish two personas which they switch between depending on the situation. Called Spark when dressed as a girl and Ash when dressed as a boy. Genderfluid.
- In River of Teeth, Archie reveals to have a fluid gender identity, fluctuating between mostly presenting as a woman and periods of wanting to be seen as a man. She points out how though it may seem weird to them, enough money can convince any tailor to make her a quality suit.
- Shades of Magic: The deuteragonist Delilah "Lila" Bard is a Tomboy who often dresses as a man (sometimes for safety, sometimes out of preference) and never corrects anyone who refers to her as male. Word of Gay is that Lila could be genderfluid or non-binary in the modern day but, as a native of 1819 London, she lacks the cultural context to identify as such in the books.
- Sir Apropos of Nothing: It's unclear whether The Don Verah Wang Ho is a trans woman or a male crossdresser. They live publicly as a woman but are referred to as a man by their embarrassed relatives, and their affair with an unknowing Sir Apropos is portrayed as a deception with an Unsettling Gender Reveal that incites a literal Angst Nuke.
- Stone Butch Blues is a semi-autobiographical book about a person named Jess and their complicated struggle with gender and masculinity. It's debatable whether Jess would be considered a butch lesbian, a trans man, or non-binary in modern terms. They try to transition into living as male, but give up partway and decide to live as "stone butch" (which is traditionally a cis woman identity but can also be applied to trans people).
- Bones: The Jeffersonian group are confused by a Japanese character who is helping them on a case; they're not sure if the person is male or female. In the end, Angela hugs them in order to see if there's any response. It moves.
Sweets: Dr. Tanaka identifies with a subset of an urban Japanese aesthetic known as kei. It glorifies androgyny.
Hodgins: Well, mission accomplished there, Dr. Tanaka.
Angela: You know, I think you're probably right. We should just ask him.
Sweets: Tanaka won't answer. That's the whole point. Gender is unimportant. We should be mature enough to accept Dr. Tanaka just the way Dr. Tanaka is.
Hodgins: Yeah, you know what? You're right. Who cares?
Angela: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it doesn't really matter what he is.
Hodgins: She. What she is.
- On Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Sabrina's friend Susie was evidently assigned female at birth but doesn't feel entirely comfortable as a woman, with Sabrina even noting that she had never seen Susie wear a dress before the demon Apophis' torment. Grandma Walker's "cunning" even immediately greets Susie as a "handsome boy". However, Susie is only referred to using female pronouns. The actor who plays Susie, Lachlan Watson, is nonbinary. In season 2 this is averted and Susie transitions and changes his name to Theo.
- On Friends, it's never made clear whether Chandler's father is a gay male Drag Queen or a trans woman. Through most of the show, he's said to be a gay man who does drag, but when we finally see him in the later seasons, he's played by female actress Kathleen Turner and dressed as a woman.
- On The Good Place, Our Janet has the appearance of a human woman, cheerfully accepts "she" pronouns, and wears a skirt as part of her uniform. But if anyone calls her a woman or girl, she habitually replies, "not a girl." That response is so reliable that it's used to distinguish her from her Evil Twin.
- Kiss Me First: Is Jack a gay boy or a trans girl who likes men? It's not specified.
- In Lovecraft Country, Christina spends much of the time transformed into a male body ( William) and seems to enjoy it more than being herself, even having an affair with Ruby in this form. However, it's unclear whether she is transgender or enjoys the power of being male in The '50s.
- Orange Is the New Black: Daddy is called both "she" and "he" by different inmates. We never learn if this reflects either a transgender or other identity since Daddy doesn't say anything about it either way.
- Years and Years: Lincoln Lyons, who begins wearing ribbons in his hair and wearing long shirts that resemble dresses, but is consistently referred to as a boy during his youth. However, the script describes a teenage Lincoln in the final scene as a beautiful Chinese girl, implying Lincoln may have eventually come out as a transgender girl.
- We Are Who We Are: Caitlin, by the end, is exploring her gender, and may be a trans boy but doesn't seem completely sure yet.
- The most common interpretation of "But Today I Am A Boy" by Antony & The Johnsons is that it's about a transgender child but it has a few others.
- One of the characters in "Bleed Like Me" by Garbage is confused about their gender.
- Angel from RENT is a source of debate amongst fans: Drag Queen or trans woman? The fact that he's dating a gay man strongly implies the former.
- Hedwig from Hedwig and the Angry Inch is described by her creator thusly: "She's more than a woman or a man. She's a gender of one and that is accidentally so beautiful."
- Robin from Cute Knight Kingdom does not seem to like living as a girl and was kicked out by her parents for not wearing dresses.
- Arashi of Ensemble Stars! not only acts very feminine in general, being constantly drawn in feminine poses in card art and with a penchant for feminine hobbies, she also refers to herself as a girl regularly and push the other characters to do so as well, saying things like 'girls like me just can't get enough of cute things!' However, none of the other characters take this particularly seriously, and she's otherwise treated as male by the game (e.g., she has never worn a skirt in a card, even though a couple of other guys have cross-dressed), and since the game is light-hearted and doesn't really go into serious topics (and there's been no official word on the subject at all), the general fanbase tends to chalk it up to her being a very feminine guy. A lot of trans fans really love the idea of her being a trans girl, however. Complicated even further in the Beasts event story, which revolves around Arashi feeling uncomfortable because she was made to do a photoshoot revolving around manliness, only for Tetora to praise it and ask her to teach him how to be manly. In the end, Tetora apologises, acknowledging that she must have hated that, because 'I may not completely get it, but youre a woman inside, right ?' After that, he consistently refers to her as a woman, telling Midori that he had an encounter with an 'awfully charming woman' the previous day; Mama also refers to Arashi as his 'daughter'. The catch? After Tetora's confession, Arashi says 'no matter how much I want it, and no matter how hard I try I could never become the beautiful woman I dream to be' and promises to love herself as she is from here on. Which sounds very much like a trans person who is struggling with dysphoria and worried they will never pass, but is just ambiguous enough it can be interpreted as Arashi deciding to give up on being seen as a woman, despite what the other characters say.
- In Final Fantasy V Faris's gender identity is never confirmed. What we do know is that she has passed as a male since childhood among her pirate band. She continues to do so upon leaving her pirate crew to join the party. She initially refers to herself as a "lad" or "prince" in some dialogues (before adding, "er, lass/princess"). Attire-wise, she wears masculine clothing in all but two jobs (Mystic Knight and Dancer) and seems distinctly uncomfortable at the idea of wearing a dress in the fake ending.
- Hugh Olineaux from Helix Waltz was assigned female at birth and lives as a man in all aspects of his life, with his sex being a widespread rumour never mentioned in front of his noble family. While a common interpretation is that he's a trans man, the game never confirms it and also suggests that he presents this way because he doesn't want to give up his knighthood upon marriage, which he would be expected to do if he were a woman.
- Ashuku Nyorai from Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA- identifies as female, but it's never stated she's specifically a trans woman. Nevertheless, details point to her being one: she's voiced by a male actor, has no breasts (suggesting male anatomy), is often misgendered by other characters, and her counterpart in actual Buddhist mythology is male. The ambiguity becomes further with one instance of her saying she's not female in her second Mandala Board story.
- Word of God is that fans can see Mooselini from Parappa The Rapper as trans if they want to. She has antlers.
- Naoto's gender is a huge, controversial topic in the Persona 4 fandom. She is living as a boy because she doesn't believe women can be accepted as good detectives. It's a fairly common plot in fiction except that her Shadow wants to do sexual reassignment surgery on her, with lethal implications, and it's suggested she has thought about it in the past. That's quite serious so fans often debate whether she's cis, genderqueer, or transgender. The most common consensus is she considers herself female and her storyline is about sexism rather than gender identity.
- Depending on what language you're playing in, Blanche from Pokémon GO may be referred to with they/their pronouns. Languages that don't have singular neuter pronouns use feminine ones.
- From Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, we have Subaru Kujo. In addition to having a Gender-Blender Name and a low-pitched voice, she has an androgynous appearance that makes protagonist Shinjiro ponder whether she is a man or a woman. Subaru is very evasive about which she identifies as, simply stating "Subaru is Subaru" when first asked and never giving a definitive answer at all during the game. This androgynous nature makes her very well suited to playing male roles at the Little Lip Theater and comes in handy when she and Shinjiro contend with an enemy targeting women and turning them into stone.
- Without finding an easily-missable scrap of fluff in South of Real, the player might never find out that Alex's real name is Alexandra. Whether or not Alex is trans, agender, or simply prefers to appear masculine is left vague.
- Leo from Tekken mixes this with an Ambiguous Gender. She's confirmed to be a female named "Eleonore" but goes by a masculine nickname and is a Bifauxnen. Characters refer to her by name or in gender-neutral ways, though she's gotten called a boy at least once. She can use certain costumes for both male and female characters and isn't affected by a female-geared move but is affected by a male one. She is also voiced by a man and a woman.
- In Valkyria Chronicles 4, Rosetta is a scout who seems to have been gendered as a man and now "presents as feminine". Notably for a Japanese game, this is not played for laughs or even played for drama - nobody seems to care about this at all. In gameplay, the only notable thing about her is that she is one of the toughest scouts in Squad E.
- Arachnia (called "Jorogumo" in Japan) from Yo-Kai Watch is a Gender Flip of the real-world female youkai tsuchigumo. He is described as "a guy who likes very girly plans, like putting poison in cakes and kissing people while having poison lipstick on". In Yo-kai Watch Blasters he is a part of an all-female yokai association.
- Jun from Happiness is commonly seen as a Wholesome Crossdresser but is most likely transgender. Jun goes to school in the girl's uniform, seemed happy in the anime OVA where she turned female, and otherwise jokingly refers to herself as a boy.
- The whole story is complicated, but in the end, it boils down that Princess Cassidy in The Confines of the Crown is probably this rather than intersex. She was raised as a girl since she was a toddler and never knowingly wanted to be anything else.
- The Fate Series has several such characters:
- Saber from Fate/stay night (aka Artoria Pendragon) is always referred to as "King", never "Queen", is known to have lived as a man for most of her life, and doesn't react to Mordred referring to her as "Father"note . However, now that she's not in a situation where she needs to hide her gender, she seems comfortable being addressed as a woman and never makes a deal about it either way.
- Mordred, from Fate/Apocrypha will threaten to kill you if you call her a girl or woman, but conversely, she'll be just as angry if you bluntly treat her as a man. The writing treats her as a girl with personal issues and leaves it at that, and she tends to drop the matter entirely if you manage to earn her trust and friendship.
- Le Chevalier d'Eon as portrayed in Fate/Grand Order is a thoroughly ambiguous mixture of gender markers. The historical d'Eon was a trans woman, but Grand Order's can change gender as they please. In-game this means that certain mechanics and quests that vary depending on the gender of the Servant in question both can be accessed by d'Eon. They also ask you at one point during an interlude whether you consider them male or female. Either response gets a mild "Ah, so that's how you see me" with no correction.
- Fate/Grand Order also has a version of Leonardo da Vinci, who was a man in life but when summoned as a Servant appears as a woman in the image of the Mona Lisa, apparently by choice. She likes being addressed as Da Vinci-chan, but participates in the Valentine's Day Event as both male and female, which involves her mentioning that she's "discarded the concept of gender". During her interlude, she does briefly wonder about what gender to make her Body Backup Drive before deciding on another female body.
- Nezha from Fate/Grand Order was a Prince in life and is known in Taoism as "the God of Young Boys", but was apparently given a woman's body when they were resurrected from the lotus flower by Taiyi Zhenren. Nezha is very proud of their "perfect body granted by the Buddha", but whenever the question of their gender identity comes up they get evasive and embarrassed (though the game's mechanics still treat Nezha as female in this case). In their Interlude, the protagonist can up-front ask what, if anything, they identify as (be it male, female, none, both, non-binary, or even "Beep Boop" to reference their Robo Speak), and the most Nezha gives is an embarrassed assertion that some things don't need to be answered.
- Caenis from Fate/Grand Order was formerly a woman in life before being raped by Poseidon, which traumatized her so much that when he offered her a wish as recompense she used it to become the male Caeneus in the hope she would never again be taken advantage of like that. Judging from certain lines, it's actually possible to summon her as either the female Caenis or the male Caeneus, either of which identify as the gender they're summoned as but don't really care if people refer to them with masculine or feminine pronouns regardless. Due to the still-unresolved trauma involving the rape, however, Caenis admits in private she has more personal hang-ups whenever she's summoned as Caenis rather than Caeneus.
- Luka from Steins;Gate is so incredibly pretty and feminine that he's frequently mistaken for a girl, and wishes he had been born female, though it's not clear if it's because he's genuinely transgender or because he knows Okabe will never fall in love with another man. Eventually, a D-mail gets sent to his mother in the past that makes it so he was born female (somehow) and Okabe at first doesn't realize since Luka looks exactly the same as a girl, and to save Mayuri, Okabe eventually has to crush Luka's happiness and return her to normal.
- Sayo Yasuda from Umineko: When They Cry. It's implied they are designated male at birth but were Raised as the Opposite Gender. They grew up thinking they were female and they seemed comfortable with it until they entered their teenage years. Given the lack of signs of development and puberty of their body, Sayo created a male persona to see how it felt to live as a boy and continued to frequently switch between the "Shannon" and "Kanon" personas. After finding out the truth of their body, Sayo began to consider themself "furniture", meaning their mutilated sexual organs keep them from being a proper man or woman and they can't be considered either.
- Your Turn to Die has Alice, who has a Gender-Blender Name, slips in and out of more feminine speech patterns (with a tendency to fall harder into them while stressing out), and gets extremely upset when one of the Floor Masters questions which of the groups he should bathe with. In the Spin-Off game Your Turn to Shine, he can confide in Mishima that he was raised as a girl until he confronted his mother about it, with it being left unclear whether he is officially Transgender or was designated male at birth.
- Kizuna AI, a Virtual Celebrity on YouTube, has a feminine avatar and voice. In interviews and official profiles, however, she has been very evasive on her gender identity. On one occasion, she has stated that she has the appearance of a girl with the mind of a man. She's also pointed out that, since she's a computer program, she technically doesn't even have a gender.
- El Goonish Shive:
- It is unclear whether Ellen identifies as a cisgender woman or a transgender one. Technically, she was created entirely biologically female and at no point in her life did she have male genitalia. She also has a set of memories starting from the time of birth of another female version of herself up to the age of 18. On the other hand, she also has memories of growing up male as Elliot and very briefly identified as Elliot. There's also this. The only thing that is known for sure is that she does not identify as a trans male.
- Elliot's gender identity is unknown to himself but seems to be genderfluid.
- Grace's gender identity is also unclear but if these three strips are any indication, Grace may be polygender (experiencing multiple gender identities) since she's comfortable transforming into forms that have any biological sex (including intersex) and exhibit any gender expression.
- This can also apply to the strip's Author, Dan Shive. In a Q&A in the comic itself, Dan gives his own gender as "Non-Commital Shrug" and states that he uses he/him pronouns largely to avoid answering questions from people he doesn't want asking them. His Author Avatar switchs genders on a whim, though always is part Squirell.
- Go Get a Roomie!: Ramona starts to question her gender identity, feeling like a boy in drag when she puts on a dress. Time will tell if she comes to identify as trans or as non-binary.
- Knights Errant. Wilifred and Oswald are both revealed to be biological females presenting as male soldiers. Wilifred refers to herself as a woman, and shows interest in both men and women, but Oswald hates being called female and is only interested in women.
- The Order of the Stick: Vaarsuvius the elf's Ambiguous Gender is a long-Running Gag, but they are also a bit hazy on the idea of gender traits, "do not normally pay attention to pronouns", and deliberately stymie Belkar's attempts to pry. Word of God is that Vaarsuvius would read as genderqueer in real-world terms but doesn't think about it at all in-universe because "not talking about gender is just culturally part of being an elf".
- Paranatural: RJ, one of Johnny's bully friends, was ambiguous for a long time until Ed used male pronouns and Johnny politely corrected him.
Johnny: And it's "their," not "his." RJ's nonbinary, yeah?
Ed: Oh, sorry. Um, what's that mean?
Johnny: For them? It means they decided they're not a boy or a girl.
Ed: What! You can do that? No one told me.
Johnny: Yeah man they don't tend to.
- Mentioned by the creator of Rejected Princesses in regards to Catalina de Erauso, since she spent most of her life presenting as a man and her own biography regularly switched from male to female indicators in Spanish. The consensus seems to be that she identified as a woman since she never denied her identity, just hid it, but this is just conjecture.
- Angel, in Sticky Dilly Buns, is specifically gender fluid, and may well be aiming for deliberate ambiguity some of the time — successfully enough to lead to a lot of Viewer Gender Confusion, in fact.
- In Total Trauma, Harold is nonbinary in some way (wearing a shirt with a female symbol despite being portrayed as male in canon), but avoids specifying exactly what their gender identity is.
Blainely: Do you still identify as a boy? Or are you now a girl, or nonbinary or something?
- Alex of the Deviantart Extended Universe carries traits of both masculine and feminine, but shirks traditional gender labels as they want to be the sneakiest, least identifiable rogue imaginable. The story even uses neutral pronouns so as to keep the mystery running
- Loves Lost And Found has Lady Maria Lucita de Moncada, who is biologically female but doesn't identify herself as such and uses the pronouns "they/them."
- ContraPoints features many characters with both masculine and feminine identities. "Trumpy the Transvestite" and "Fritz the Fascist" are two examples.
- Danganronpa Abridged Thing: Chihiro Fujisaki was explicitly male in canon, but the abridged series makes this more ambiguous by placing more emphasis on his gender identity. By the time they are killed, Kirigiri explains that they were designated male at birth, but their ID recognizes them as male. Shortly after, Monokuma declares that they "never talk about this again."note From then on, Fujisaki is only referred to as "they/them."
- Baby Snap (Princess Cookie) from Adventure Time is a male cookie who wanted to be a princess. Fans are torn whether it was gender-related or whether he just wanted the authority and didn't know any other type of ruler existed.
- Meg from Family Guy is depicted in the future living as a man named Ron in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story. While this could explain some things, considering the gag nature of the series and its Negative Continuity this is largely up in the air.
- A throwaway line in "The Princess and the Pea" adaptation of Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child has the Queen mention that one of the princesses is "a man".
- In one episode of King of the Hill, Peggy makes friends with a male transvestite named Caroline. Caroline calls himself a drag queen, works as a drag queen, and wears male clothes while he's off the clock...except that he also goes by Caroline at all times.
- Pickles of Metalocalypse was shown with an interesting representation of his genitals in the uncensored version of season 3.
- One scene in Recess has Mikey mentioning his "Great-Uncle Mary". When Vince asks why Mikey's uncle is named "Mary", Gretchen says not to ask, suggesting a controversial reason.
- A few The Simpsons characters has featured one-off jokes here and there about transgender people, such as a character referencing a time when Helen Lovejoy was "Harold Schwartzbaum."
- South Park:
- Parodied in "The Cissy", where Cartman starts posing as a "transginger" named Erica to avoid having to use the boy's restrooms. It gets to the point where the school, fearing a media outcry, has to install a restroom specifically for transgenders (read: Cartman), which ends up far more luxurious than the normal restrooms and pissing everybody else off. Wendy responds by showing up at school dressed as a guy and calling herself "Wendyl," stealing Cartman's restroom and causing him to come down on Stan for not "controlling [his] dog". The whole ordeal confuses Stan into questioning his own gender, whereupon he attempts to use the trans toilet and Cartman accuses him of being a "cissy," rallying the entire school into bullying him for it. The episode ends in the regular restrooms becoming gender-neutral and the original transgender restroom becoming a cissy restroom whose only user is Stan.
- This episode also features a confirmation that Randy didn't just dress up as Lorde the previous episode for Kyle's birthday, but in fact is Lorde, which is kept uniquely consistent over the rest of the season. His justification for it is even the exact same as Cartman's, though far less out of malice. Unlike the kids, Randy clearly sees Lorde as more an image than an actual alternate identity, but whether he enjoys the crossdressing part or is forced to by his record label to keep his pop starlet job is where the ambiguity comes in.
- Marco Diaz of Star vs. the Forces of Evil identifies as male for the most part, but doesn't mind being addressed with "she" pronouns, states that he'd "love to be Queen", considers being buried in a suit to be nightmarish, and has even referred to himself as "ya girl Marco". Complicating things further is that he seems very comfortable with being a princess in a large pink dress, to the point of using the 'Princess Marco' persona in multiple episodes and for merchandise. Creator Daron Nefcy has stated that Marco is the type of guy who can participate in feminine activities without feeling concern over his own masculinity, while the storyboard artists are aware of the trans community that identify with the progressive aspects of his character.
- Steven Universe: Smoky Quartz, Rainbow Quartz 2.0, and Sunstone are fusions of a male character and a Gem (a species that canonically does not have gender). Fans generally consider them non-binary. In Rainbow's case, having an explicitly male voice actor and one of the staff explicitly using "him" to refer to Rainbow just adds to this. While Smoky only ever gets called "they," Rainbow 2.0 gets called "he" and "they" in canon while Sunstone gets called both "she" and "they."