Follow TV Tropes

Following

Gender Bender Angst

Go To

Rumisiel: Before I put this all out there, what are the downsides of leaving things like they are? Humor me, I want to make sure I cover everything.
Ash: Mostly just one, but it's the BIG one. I'm not a girl. I've never FELT like a girl. Deep down inside at the core of my essence I am and always have been a boy and being anything else just feels... Wrong. It's like a constant disruption gnawing a hole in my very feeling of being every moment of every day.
Rumsiel: Oh... Well here I was thinking you were going to say bras and periods and stuff.
Ash: Well, those too. Also, random dudes hitting on me. Like, that's just the worst. Still, mostly the deep seated agony of wrongness in the core of my very soul though.
Misfile
Advertisement:

A character has undergone a complete physical sex change, usually through magic or Applied Phlebotinum.

For some this might be a positive experience; for the Escapist Character experiencing life as someone of a different gender can be a new adventure or Wish-Fulfillment for the audience, and for the character who is not comfortable with who they are, the Second Law of Gender-Bending will often lead them to their personal Happy Ending. Not so this character.

The character will not be happy at all with the new condition. There might be any number of reasons for this. Maybe they were just about to marry with their True Love. Maybe they didn't receive the benefit of Attractive Bent-Gender. Perhaps it was just a case of being happy with the old gender and they simply aren't comfortable with their current body. Whatever the specific issues they may have, the Gender Bender situation will result in angst, conflict, etc. for the character.

Advertisement:

Depending on how much (and how quickly) the character's appearance changes it can be hard to prove that they're even the same person, which can cause them to lose their friends, their family and their job. And if there's a Cosmic Retcon or Fake Memories to prevent this, then it could result in people talking about a past that the character doesn't remember, or friends acting like strangers or vice versa, causing the character to question their sanity.

There's also the case of a man who's proud of his strength, who gets turned into a woman and angsts over no longer being able to fight properly. This could be treated as simply "men are stronger than women", or with more nuance as "his new body has different muscle distribution and range of motion, which aren't in sync with the way he learned to fight" or "his fighting style relied on a Gender-Restricted Ability he no longer possesses". Or maybe it isn't sex-related at all, and his new body is simply a "baseline" one that hasn't been through the same physical conditioning as his old one.

Advertisement:

Some cases may also spread the angst around, as a loved one suddenly changing can be distressing, especially if they were romantically involved. It's even possible for another's worries to exceed that of the one experiencing the change, to the point the Second Law of Gender-Bending could be in play simultaneously.

Can be considered the Fantastic Angst counterpart to Trans Tribulations and Intersex Tribulations, and a Persecution Flip thereof (i.e. causing a person to feel gender dysphoria for being cisgender instead of transgender).


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The premise of Ame Nochi Hare involves 5 male students at a school becoming host to a condition that causes them to transform into girls whenever it rains. While 4 of the group manage to adjust to the situation relatively well thanks to finding out about it as a group and securing assistance from select members of the school staff, the fifth, Yuusuke, initially had to deal with it in isolation, and struggles both mentally and physically with the transformations. Even after the two parties learn about each other and join together, he still remains the most uncomfortable with the condition and is the most vocal about finding a way to get rid of it.
  • Asuka Hybrid: Asuka zigzags between this. He finds himself greatly enjoying the momentary benefits of getting turned into a cute girl, mostly because he was already In Touch with His Feminine Side, but he wants to turn back into a guy because he's fully aware of the long-term consequences — he got lucky as right before transforming, he was moving into a dorm and made a new friend who could arrange him enrolling into a new school, but none of his friends or family at home know of the change, and could cause complications to his future relationship prospects. If anything, his enjoyment of girly things freaks him out as it makes him fear that he'll lose the will to fix the problem.
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
  • Mai Natsume of BlazBlue: Remix Heart was a guy who accidentally became a girl because of an artifact. As she had to live with other girls in the Academy's dorms, she feared that she might be "losing himself" because she acts more and more like a girl; at the same time, however, she doesn't want her friends to know her condition. By the end of the manga, however, she realized that this new life has given her more happiness that when she was a guy, so the Second Law of Gender-Bending prevails instead. However, later characterization in the games (specifically BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle) portray Mei as still being conflicted; despite perfectly loving her new identity, some of her internal thoughts reveal that not only does she still think of herself as a guy to an extent, but still misses living as one.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Mixing with Intersex Tribulations, Gren was framed for espionage and used in a medical experiment that turned much of his body female. He doesn't vocalize much displeasure about it (or anything else), but still lives as a man and greatly resent Vicious for getting him arrested in the first place.
  • Hana wa Nisemono deals with this as the central plot. The protagonists, the gay couple Mori and Ayumu, have their world rocked when Ayumu is cosmically changed to have always been a girl because The Powers That Be interpreted their New Years' wish to "always be together" as a plea for society to accept their relationship to the point where they could remain together—ergo, have them be seen as "normal". However, it only complicates things; while it's true that everybody openly acknowledges their coupling and that many won't dare to get in their way romantically, Mori has a crisis of love because he isn't sexually attracted to Ayumu anymore but still wonders if they should stay together, while Ayumu reluctantly adjusts to life as a woman and retains his preference for men but is frustrated at "her" partner for the aforementioned insecurities. Good thing the gods reverted the situation.
  • Inside Mari is about Isao, a college man who gets trapped in the body of a high school girl he is in love with. He is deeply unsettled by it at first, partially because he's in a female body and partially because he puts Mari on a pedestal. He couldn't even look at her naked body for a long time while either bathing or undressing. When Mari had her next period, Isao completely freaked out. Isao was never a separate person, but a manifestation of Mari's Dissociative Personality Disorder. There's an implication that Mari's created an opposite-gender personality as a manifestation of her Gayngst.
  • In the manga series Kagerou-Nostalgia, Ranmaru, formerly a woman, was transformed into a man by the series' Big Bad before the story even began and now serves as one of his two Dragons, changing back to a woman once a month. This is a problem for her partner, Rikimaru, who had a huge crush on her female form. They're now forced to serve together as Heterosexual Life-Partners, and the situation destroys their relationship.
  • Parodied several ways in A Lazy Guy Woke Up As A Girl One Morning:
  • Life with an Ordinary Guy who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout:
    • Initially, Tachibana isn't too broken up about having a female body, and even seems to enjoy the attention of being so pretty. Eventually, he gets very frustrated by what his attraction to Jinguuji says about his own (current or former) sexuality, then comes to the alarming realization that he's forgotten what his own face looked when he was male. Tachibana is only able to distract himself by focusing on how he's still attracted to a girl, insisting only those are his "real" feelings.
    • Jinguuji actually takes Tachibana's change much more harshly and right off the bat, literally vomiting in response and telling the Goddess of Love that she's robbed him of his Living Emotional Crutch. Jinguuji is consistently disgusted whenever he feels attracted to Tachibana's female form—seemingly less about his own sexuality (whatever that is) than feeling it cheapens their friendship.
  • Tatsuki Fujimoto's early oneshot Me wo Sametara Onnanoko ni Natteita Byou (loosely translated "When I Woke Up I had Become a Girl" Disease) has a teenage boy named Toshihide permanently become female, and somehow even mundane sex-affirming methods won't help mitigate it. Toshihide is distressed by the transformation itself, but the general reactions of others are perhaps worse: Toshihide is immediately expected to live as a girl, and his teacher bluntly insists he be treated as one. His classmates are either disgusted or apathetic toward him, and several of the guys proposition Toshihide in a disturbingly aggressive manner. He and his girlfriend Rie want to stay together, but assume they're no longer sexually compatible, and Toshihide worries he's falling in love with her brother. Ultimately, they resolve to keep things going the best they can, and Toshihide decides to continuing be as much of a man as he's still able to.
  • In Punchline Yuuta switched bodies with a girl ten years ago. He hates it and still lives as a boy.
  • Ranma ½:
  • In Sekirei, Homura deals with his body changing into female because of a unique condition of his body making his physical sex unstable. He hates it and is obviously still uncomfortable with his growing attraction to the protagonist.
  • The basis of Shishunki Bitter Change. Yuuta and Yui experienced a "Freaky Friday" Flip during elementary school, and never managed to switch back. Not surprisingly, they got desperate to switch back to their original bodies. They got over it somewhat after the Time Skip to their teenage years, but still expressed desire to return.
  • In So I'm a Spider, So What? the male Japanese student Kanata was reincarnated as the female Katia. Katia suffers from gender identity issues well into her teenage years, to the point that she spontaneously developed the Parallel Minds skill and had a male and female mind co-existing. She finally fully identified as female after the male mind sacrificed himself to break her free from mind control.
  • Transjitter is a manga where Shun, a gay male high school student, is turned into a girl, while Yuka, the girl who had a crush on him, becomes male. Yuka is unhappy with her change, but adjusts to it relatively well. Shun immediately hates his new body so much, one of his first reactions is to claw at his own skin until he's bleeding all over.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami:
    "Lady," she began, only to be interrupted immediately as a frown appeared on the troll's face.
    "Lord, Marda corrected, and added "I am male," upon noticing her guest's puzzled expression.
    The troll's irritation grew as Ami kept looking incredulously at the two prominent bumps bulging underneath the creature's chain mail shirt. "Ignore the body. It is merely the result of a very juvenile curse, the creature said, gritting her teeth. "Mukrezar, may the dark gods feast on his entrails for all eternity, found it so amusing that he made it permanent."
    Ami stared. "Oh. That must me awkward. Um, he was the Keeper who originally conquered the Avatar Islands, right? I thought he was dead. Shouldn't his magic have faded away?"
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic oneshot Forever Mare, a mare named Sorrel Lace is transformed into a stallion by Discord's magic. Sorrel Lace lost the foal she was pregnant with. She wants Celestia to change her back, but Celestia isn't able to. In the end, Sorrel ends up committing suicide.

    Film - Live Action 
  • In The Hot Chick, a "Freaky Friday" Flip causes the bodies of Rachel McAdams (an Alpha Bitch) and Rob Schneider (a petty thief) to switch, causing both angst.
  • The title character in Sam is a He-Man Woman Hater who undergoes extreme angst after being transformed into a woman. She even considers undergoing gender reassignment surgery to become male again (an option that's almost never mentioned in most Gender Bender works).
  • In Prelude To A Kiss, the main lead exchanged bodies with an old man just before she was going to marry.
  • The Assignment (2016): Frank is very unhappy he was subjected to a forced sex reassignment, and even looks into a surgery that could at least somewhat undo this. However, he settles for vengeance against the mad doctor who did this instead as he's told it would never be the same.

    Literature 
  • In Chalker's The Four Lords of the Diamond series, the main character has his brain pattern imprinted on four prisoners, each being sent to a different planet in the Warden Diamond Penal Colony. One of the bodies is that of a female. Fortunately for the protagonist, he is going to a planet that has the strange property of switching the minds of two people when they sleep with each other (in the literal sense). He jumps at the first opportunity to get himself back into a male body, and never looks back—even though this inevitably blows his cover.
  • In Tamir Triad, Tobin was magically turned into a boy as a baby and raised as male to avoid her Evil Uncle. Growing up she felt loneliness and some confusion, such as when she wanted to go play with dolls but was told that boys don't play with dolls. Things got more confusing as she aged.
  • Whateley Universe: While the First Law of Gender-Bending mostly holds, the majority of the gender-bent characters are happy with their new form (with several having been Transgender from the start). However, a number of characters are not.
    • Phase, who is intersexed and mostly feminine-looking due to his mutation, has taken several major risks in order to return to being fully male. None of them have worked out to date.
    • Bladedancer is extremely uncomfortable with being female, though her girlfriend Molly has been helping her adjust. While the chance that she will return to normal exists, doing so is unlikely to happen soon as the enchanted sword case needed is being held by a demon lord.
    • Despite becoming increasingly feminine-behaving over time, Jobe Wilkins still insists that she wants to become male again.
    • Hat Trick, having been transformed into a girl by an ill-worded wish to be 'the opposite of what I am now', manages to present as male much of the time, and is openly Transgender.
    • Mokele', whose mutation changed him from female to male, hates it. As said in ''Rotten to the C.O.R.E'':
      (<Mokele'> Nightshade? It's Mokele'.)
      (<Nightshade> Yes, dear boy, what is it?)
      ...
      The subspace communicator tended to give the users a flat, artificial tone to their voice, part of it due to the technology, part of it due to the necessity of sub-vocalization in its use. Never the less, Tatiana heard the anger in the other end of the line and knew her barb had found its mark. (<Mokele'> How many times have I told you...?)
      (<Nightshade> Get yourself a man if you can't decide to be one on your own, comrade. Either way is of no difference to me.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Tip from Emerald City was turned into a boy as a baby using magic. He's transformed back as a teenager but he's shown very uncomfortable with living as a girl. He still sees himself as male.
  • A case on Law & Order: SVU had the same plot (again, likely based on David Reimer). In this episode, the "sister" involuntarily given a sex reassignment identified as a boy. With his twin brother he got revenge by murdering the doctor who did it.
  • NYPD Blue: The Victim of the Week was a surgeon and it turns out that he had performed a sex reassignment operation on a baby after a botched circumcision. The "girl" grew up depressed and not fitting in until she was told the truth by her parents, at which point she got another sex reassignment operation to become male again. The surgeon tracked him down and wanted to write a book about his (alleged) success; the man's father killed the surgeon after having previously threatened to kill him if he came near his son again. Likely inspired by the case of David Reimer.

    Music 
  • In The Who song "I'm a Boy" the narrator can't wait to resume his normal sex role.

    Video Game 

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation C.A.R.A.M.E.L", it's revealed that Heinrich Von Marzipan turned evil as the result of a magical gender change without the benefits of Attractive Bent-Gender.
  • In the Futurama episode "Nutopia", the Planet Express crew runs afoul of an alien who strips them all of their sexual characteristics and then, while trying to restore them, accidentally swaps everyone's genders. Nobody is happy about the change.

    Real Life 
  • The tragic case of David Reimer: as a result of a botched circumcision, his parents were convinced to give him a sex reassignment and raise him as a girl as part of a psychological experiment. He was very much against living as one from an early age, and later in life, after he'd been told what happened to him as a baby, he underwent a second sex reassignment to live as a man, but it wasn't enough to prevent him from taking his own life at 38.

Top