Follow TV Tropes


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.

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.


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.


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.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Occurs in the Excalibur story where the heroes were subjected to a "Freaky Friday" Flip with their enemies the Crazy Gang. Not only was Meggan not very happy with the Knave's male body, the Knave was really unhappy with hers too. (Although given what he said, it may have had more to do with him not being able to control Meggan's shapeshifting ability than the gender issue.)

    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.

  • 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 Whateley Universe, 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.)
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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


    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.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: