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Historical Gender Flip

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This character is supposed to be a recognisable figure from history, but diverges in one notable way: their gender.

In-Universe explanations for this vary. Sometimes "Alice" disguised herself as "Aleister" or vice versa, sometimes the details were lost over time or covered up for political reasons, and sometimes it's just an Alternate Universe where the figure is replaced by a Distaff Counterpart or Spear Counterpart. Urban Fantasy has its own variant where history is unaltered, but the character is Reincarnated in the modern day as the opposite sex.

Can be used to "spice up" a historical tale with new possibilities for character relationships, extra challenges for the protagonist to overcome... or just Fanservice. It can also happen as a side-effect of combining the roles of two or more people together. In extreme cases just about everyone in the story is like this, usually for the sake of creating an Improbably Female Cast.

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This is a Sub-Trope of Historical-Domain Character and Gender Flip. Frequently overlaps with Beethoven Was an Alien Spy, Historical Beauty Update (due to Attractive Bent-Gender) and She Is the King. Not to be confused with Cross-Cast Role.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
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    Film — Animated 

    Literature 
  • The Ambition of Oda Nobuna involves a Sengoku Period universe where equal primogeniture was widely used. Because of this, many, but not all, of the big names of that era are female in this series, for example Oda Nobunaga (i.e. the titular Nobuna), Tokugawa Ieyasu, Akechi Mitsuhide, Date Masamune, etc.
  • Boku to Tsundere to Heidegger depicts famous European philosophers as high-school girls.
  • The Grace of Kings and its sequels are comprised of characters who are mostly counterparts of historical figures connected with the founding of China's Han dynasty, with the first book being about the Chu-Han Contention, and the second about the aftermath of Liu Bang, called Kuni Garu in the novel, gaining the throne. One of Kuni's allies is the street rat turned general Gin Mazoti, who is a gender-flipped version of Han Xin, whose backstory is essentially identical to that of the historical figure (or at least legends about him), except for an added element of Sweet Polly Oliver.
  • Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls is a "Jidai Geki figures reincarnated in the modern world" example... but it's an Alternate Universe where modern Japan still looks like Jidai Geki.
  • "Once and Future" by Terry Pratchett is about a time traveller called Mervin realising that he's at the beginning of the Arthurian era and in the perfect position to be Merlin. It ends with the youth who pulled the sword from the stone (an electromagnet controlled by Mervin) removing her hood, and Mervin frantically trying to remember if Nimue ever actually told him the sex of Uther's lost heir. (She didn't, probably on purpose.)
  • Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy is a Space Opera in which refugee Ari Helix discovers she's the reincarnation of King Arthur, and Merlin is utterly bewildered because Arthur has never reincarnated as female before.
  • In Ulysses: Jeanne d'Arc and the Alchemist Knights, Arthur de Richemont, Philip of Burgundy, La Hire and Charlotte de Valois are all gender flips of characters from The Hundred Years War. Considering it is from the same author as The Ambition of Oda Nobuna above, is no surprise.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blackadder:
    • In the third series, Blackadder writes a novel under a female pseudonym and mentions that most of the famous "female" authors of the period, including Jane Austen and Dorothy Wordsworth, are doing the same: "James Boswell is the only real woman writing at the moment, and that's only because she wants to get inside Johnson's britches."
    • The fourth series includes a sexual-orientation version: Oscar Wilde is mentioned as being a huge, bearded man, the father of hordes of illegitimate children and the author of a treatise called Why I Like To Do It With Girls. It was only down to an Amoral Attorney that he was convicted for homosexuality.
  • Doctor Who: "Extremis" reveals that Pope Benedict IX was actually a woman, who the Doctor claims could do naughty things with castanets, in a clear reference to the legendary "Pope Joan". However, the episode is revealed to be almost entirely a computer simulation. But, as the simulation's creators tried to make it as realistic as possible, the claims about Benedict IX could still be true In-Universe.
  • Drunk History has Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr being portrayed by females, with no attempt to hide it.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow "Camelot/3000" has two of these. Stargirl having traveled back to Camelot is revealed to actually have become Merlin. In addition, while most of the Arthurian figures are present, there is a noticeable absence of Lancelot, that is until Guinevere says to Sara "I enjoyed meeting you, Sara Lance-a-lot", revealing Sara to be the inspiration for the legendary knight who wooed Arthur's wife.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Parallel Universe" the protagonists come across a gender-flipped reality where the first person to walk on the moon was Nellie Armstrong, the most famous writer was Wilma Shakespeare (whose plays included Rachel the Third), and an influence on the "masculist" movement of the '60s (when they burned their jockstraps) was Jeremy Greer, who wrote The Male Eunuch.
  • Warehouse 13 does this with H.G. Wells. Not only is the famous writer made female, but she is also a Mad Scientist who actually invented quite a few of the devices featured in the books, with her brother Charles acting as H.G. Wells in public.

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney Theme Parks: Invoked in The Muppets' Great Moments in American History show. Miss Piggy is incensed that there isn't a female role for her, so she takes on the role of King George (or, rather, Queen Georgette).

    Video Games 
  • Fate Series:
    • In Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, the female Saber's true identity is that of (now well known) gender-flipped King Arthur, commonly known as Artoria Pendragon. It should be noted that she is quite insistent on being called "king," and spent most of her life doing everything she could to ignore her female gender. Due to sexism, she didn't have much choice.
    • In Fate/Apocrypha, the Assassin of Black is gender-flipped Jack the Ripper (though justified as Jack's true identity is unknown) and Saber of Red is gender-flipped Mordred (who, like her "father," insists on not being treated as female). It also has a gender-flipped Frankenstein's Monster.
    • Fate EXTRA features a gender-flipped version of Nero as the playable Saber. It also has a female Francis Drake, but it is implied that she's actually Queen Elizabeth the 1st in disguise.
    • Koha-Ace features a genderflipped Oda Nobunaga and Okita Souji. The rest of the cast remains their historical gender.
    • Fate/Grand Order went really ballistic when it comes to gender-flipping historical figures when compared to the previous installments. Alongside all of the above mentioned Servants, one of the first Servants revealed for the game is a female version of Attila the Hun, and following updates include more and more of them, to the point that it is parodied with Artemis, who first pretends to be a gender-flipped Orion, and everyone buys it; Katsushika Hokusai, who happens to actually be the octopus near the woman, aka his daughter Katsushika Oui (the "Servant Hokusai" is both of them, since Oui produced some of her own art under her father's name); and with Paul Bunyan, who gets turned into a girl and a child and doesn't know why it happened. In fact, the only subversion is Miyamoto Musashi, who actually comes from an Alternate Universe while the "main" Nasuverse's Miyamoto Musashi (yet to appear in-game) is confirmed by his rival Sasaki Kojiro to be male.
    • The practice in Fate/Grand Order is Justified in the parody manga Learning with Manga! FGO, where the implied reason for the genderflips among the original Servants' ranks (including the above mentioned Bunyan) is due to the protagonist being a lesbian with a "no boys" policy.
  • In the Three Kingdoms Era of Inazuma Eleven GO 2: Chrono Stone, when the heroes finally meet Zhuge Liang she turns out to be a woman.
  • Magoichi Saika is depicted in Sengoku Basara as a red haired woman. In this case, "Magoichi Saika" is the title worn by the current leader of the Saika faction. Magoichi is proud to announce that she's the first woman to carry the mantle.
  • Touhou:

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Team JNPR is composed of gender-flips of four historical crossdressers: Jaune is Joan of Arc, Nora is Thor, Pyrrha is Achilles, and Ren is Mulan. Each of these characters is the gender their inspirations were pretending to be.

    Western Animation 
  • In the retelling of the story of Moses on Rugrats, Angelica plays the Pharaoh.
  • The Simpsons occasionally does this, for instance, portraying Lisa as "Connie Appleseed" (Johnny Appleseed).
  • Gravity Falls: In "Irrational Treasure", while investigating about the town's foundation, Dipper and Mabel find out about a few ancient national secrets, including that Benjamin Franklin was a woman.

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