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Jumping the Gender Barrier

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Ryu: I like you.
Ryu: Like, like you, like you.
Ryu: It kinda clicked for me after I turned into a girl and stuff.
Ryu: And isn't like, "boyfriend" the next level of "best friend" if you think about it?
Ryu: No deeper bond than a guy friend turning into his other guy friend's girlfriend.
Fight Like a Girl, by The Transformistress

A Gender Bender trope, where someone who would have made a good match if not for gender suddenly is a good match, and some version of a Romance Arc (and in the more egregious cases, the relationship) begins immediately. Often, there hadn't previously been one iota of serious thought about a romantic relationship between the two people prior to the gender shift.

When—as is sometimes the case—this involves the gender-switched person changing their sexual preferences, people can find this plot squicky.

There are legions of amateur stories with some version of this plot in appropriate corners of the Internet, and a decent portion of genderbending Fan Fic will use it as well.

For obvious reasons, depends on the absence of Everyone Is Bi. The First Law of Gender Bending (or its inversion) tends to be in play, although cases where one party becomes a Sex Shifter aren't unheard of. The opposite of Unsettling Gender-Reveal.

Compare to Trans Equals Gay with non-Gender Bender examples. Contrast Settled for Gay, in which partnership happens without a change in orientation, gender-bending based examples of If It's You, It's Okay, and Incompatible Orientation.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Not surprisingly there's a hentai manga about this. A male student finds himself body hopping into females at certain points in time, and he uses every occasion to sleep with a local Jerk Jock Cassanova. Though as soon as he's left the girl's body (paying no attention to the girl who just had been taken over as she's usually in a daze of orgasmic pleasure) it turns into Ho Yay as he pleads his love for the jock.
  • Another one plays it for horror, in that the protagonist, a guy who wants the attraction of a particular girl, makes a pact with an Obviously Evil skeletal demon who consumes the innards of people, thus turning the remaining skin into a literal bodysuit one can put on and turn into, size-shifting included. It is done with the diminutive female friend of the guy's obsession, an unrelated little girl, another guy and lastly the girl he originally wanted to be together with. Then he is Hoist by His Own Petard when, on the demon's suggestion, he puts on the girl's skin and turns into her - only for the demon to take on the other guy's suit and rending the protagonist's mind inside-out, forcing her (?) to fully embrace being a girl and be reduced to nothing more than a mindless pawn.
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • Soga and Matsuri share a mutual respect as colleagues, and after Matsuri is turned female, Soga quickly becomes infatuated with him. Soga's rather unhappy with this, as both wish to still see Matsuri as a guy.
    • Zig-zagged on Matsuri's side: He's very affectionate to Soga, but he offhandedly brushes off any suggestions of love between them, not even noticing Soga's attraction. The doesn't stop the series from indulging in blatant romantic overtones between the two.
    • Played with when Matsuri temporarily loses his memories and believes he was always a girl. "She" falls for Soga immediately, which Shadow Mei attributes to Amnesiac Resonance, and asks him out. Soga, to his own surprised, suddenly stopped finding Matsuri attractive when he was acting so "girly". Comically, once his memories are restored, Matsuri doesn't give a single thought to why he fell in love with Soga so readily.
    • The idea is addressed more seriously when Matsuri is seemingly split into male and female halves. The girl assumes Suzu would get with her boy self, and isn't welcome in their old home, and seriously asks if she'd be happy as Soga's bride. Soga rejects her because the Matsuri he knows wouldn't want to leave Suzu, even as a girl.
  • Subverted in The Day of Revolution as the very idea of a romantic relationship with any of her former True Companions has the gender-bent protagonist thoroughly squicked. They don't know she is their old friends, and so don't hold back themselves—though they weren't all that shy even when she was a guy.
  • Franken Fran: An early story features a boy and a girl who won't admit their feelings for each other due to assorted issues, so Fran helps them jump the gender barrier. Both of them.
  • Hana wa Nisemono inverts the trope and plays with it quite a bit. The main couple, a pair of gay guys named Ayumu and Mori, is already together, but one of them 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, the one who wasn't changed has a crisis of love because he isn't sexually attracted to his partner anymore but still wonders if they should stay together, while the one turned into a girl 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.
  • In Kämpfer: Kaede doesn't seem to be interested in male Natsuru. Suddenly Natsuru turns into a girl, and at first sight, Kaede falls in love with "her." It gets creepy when we find out Kaede's a Psycho Lesbian who Does Not Like Men, and that she turned Natsuru into a girl for this very reason.
  • In Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, Yasuna, a girl suddenly pays attention when Hazumu becomes female, as does Hazumu's best male friend Asuta. The former is at least somewhat reciprocated, but the latter goes entirely unnoticed and played as a joke.
  • Life with an Ordinary Guy who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout: After Tachibana becomes female, he and Jinguuji immediately become infatuated with each other. They're not remotely pleased with this, especially because their feelings might just be caused by a curse. The manga is also very ambiguous about what their sexual orientations were to begin with—Jinguuji actually hadn't ever fallen for a woman before Tachibana became one, generally found women repellent, and had very strong feelings towards Tachibana specifically.
  • Douman Seiman's Menlancholia features a Loving Bully variant. A bully, Kanbara, liked to beat up and pick on a child genius classmate Takeru. Kanbara turns out to have a crush on Takeru, but when he wishes to turn into a girl he mentions that the crush wasn't the reason for the transformation—rather, he hoped that as a girl, he could properly apologize to Takeru for his earlier actions. The trope is played straight with his friend Miyagi, however, since he's more than fine with Kanbara being a girl and ends up dating him.
  • Played with but ultimately subverted in Nozomu Nozomi: his budding romantic interest in best friend Yasu may have started Nozomu down the road to womanhood after his mysterious Gender Bender, but it's her outrage at Yasu's horndog lewdness that convinces Nozomu she's truly become a girl.
  • Pet Shop of Horrors: A trans woman model transitioned because she thought the man she loved was straight. In a subversion, he actually turned out to be closeted and gay. As a result, it didn't work out between them.
  • Invoked in Sekainohate de Aimashou: Emilio, a Human Alien prince, slips Ryouma a Gender Bender potion to make him Emilio's wife. Ryouma initially refuses Emilio's advances and wants to change back, but gradually starts reciprocating his feelings and becoming more comfortable with being female. Ultimately, Ryouma turns down becoming male again and the two hook up, get married, and have children.
  • Sekirei has its own way with this trope. Homura has an unstable gender, but mentally identifies himself as male. At the start of the story, he was physically male and had been trying to find an Ashikabi who was female. However, as time went on his body began reacting to main character Minato, who is a heterosexual male. As a result, Homura began turning into a woman. It's not clear if the transformation was complete by the time he was finally "winged", but the character now has breasts as well as more feminine features, and is pretty annoyed and uncomfortable with the whole situation. Poor, guy/girl.
  • Kanata/Katia of So I'm a Spider, So What? was originally a male before being reincarnated as a girl. She still identified as a man in her mind which resulted in her suppressing a growing affection for her male friend Shun. After a near-death experience where Shun saved her, she started identifying as female and shortly after started giving Shun hints about her feelings.
  • Strange Mansion features a trans woman who transitioned because her high school crush didn't like men.
  • Your and My Secret: After Uehara and Momoi switch bodies, Momoi almost immediately starts dating her best friend Shiina, who doesn't know about the switch, and Sengbongi, who figures it out but doesn't mind, makes several romantic/sexual overtures towards Uehara. It's an interesting case since while the body switching did facilitate both relationships, it's implied that there was existing attraction pre-body switch.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: In Earth-3490, the Civil War created by the Superhuman Registration Act is averted. Why? Because Captain America and Iron Woman get married. Interestingly, they both get married in costume, which causes a Double Take upon turning the page because Iron Woman's gender is surprisingly ambiguous if you ignore the veil. And instead of the stock 'standing together at the altar' image, they're making out in front of the church.
    • Of course, soon after that came out, it was put on The Internet...and Tony's beard got photoshopped onto 'Toni''s face, with varying levels of looking actually beard-like.
  • Runaways, with Xavin and Karolina. Karolina is gay and engaged to Xavin, who appears in a youthful male image that he believed would please her. Being a Skrull, for whom changing shape and sex is as difficult and important as changing the color of one's hair, Xavin is not bothered by this and happily assumes a female form to make Karolina more comfortable. Some drama that might or might not have happened later revolved around confusion over Xavin's "true" sex, and Karolina's assertion that Xavin is really a woman, despite the fact that even Xavin points out that he/she (Even the characters become confused over the proper pronouns) is not only one or the other.
    • The issue becomes significantly more stable, however, when Xavin unconsciously reverts to a 'default' female form during an argument.

    Fan Works 
  • Flying a Ship with Silver Lining, the first story in the omegaverse Building Neutron Stars series, has Rodney McKay feeling extremely sexually confused regarding his attraction towards John Sheppard, as he's pretty sure he's not gay and Sheppard doesn't look like he's gay either so there's no chance for a Relationship Upgrade. Then Sheppard is revealed to have hidden his true gender for all his military career, letting Rodney to happily pursue him.
  • In this crossover fanvid by TheNight130, Marina doesn't return Odette's feelings, so Odette agrees with Captain Hook to transform into a man. Odette, or John Smith as she's now called, ends up catching the eye of Marina. Odette reveals the truth to Marina, but, before Marina can react, Captain Hook tries to kill Marina. Odette commits a Heroic Sacrifice and dies. However, according to the video's creator, Marina would have come around to Odette eventually, even if she had transformed back into a woman.
  • The High School Dx D fic Mistakes Were Made has Kiba, who has fallen in love with Joe, take advantage of Azazel's genderswap gun immediately after finding out about both the gun's existence and Joe being straight.
  • In some Supernatural fics, like The Opposite of That and Somebody Up There Likes Me, Castiel, an angel who normally occupies a human male vessel, is forced to possess a new female vessel or has his current vessel turned female by a spell and Dean realizes, to his major discomfort, that he's got the hots for his best friend's new female form. Virtually all of these fics subvert this trope, however, by making it clear that Dean was already attracted to male-form Castiel (either because he's a closeted bisexual or it's Castiel) and the sex change just made it harder for him to keep pretending the attraction wasn't there, and they defy the First Law of Gender Bending with Castiel always getting his male body back in the end and Dean confirming that his attraction to him hasn't lessened one bit.
  • Trans Ponies: Applejack starts blushing when she sees Rainbow Dash after he comes back as a stallion. Rainbow himself becomes more attracted to Applejack after transitioning.

    Film — Animated 
  • Green Snake (2021): Verta — who was implied to have feelings for Blanca in the previous movie — falls in love with a grey-haired man who she believes to be Blanca's reincarnation, something that is confirmed towards the end of the movie.

    Film — Live Action 
  • At the end of La piel que habito, Vincente has become Vera, and may or may not have a shot with Cristina now.
  • From Victor/Victoria:
    King Marchand: I don't care if you are a man.
    [kisses Victoria]
    Victoria: I— I'm not a man.
    King Marchand: I still don't care. [kisses Victoria again]


    Live Action TV 
  • Similarly done in the Blackadder II episode "Bells" (where young girl Kate dresses as a boy and becomes Blackadder's servant "Bob").
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Him" features a high school jock with a jacket that hypnotizes women into falling for him. Hilarity, and drama, ensues as all of the female cast members begin doing over-the-top things to attempt to win his affection. In Willow's case, she's gay and one of the other female characters tries to get her out of the way by reminding her that said jock is a guy. But since Willow is also an incredibly powerful witch, she notes that this is a very minor problem and begins casting a spell to turn Him into a Her.
  • Like the above-mentioned Victor/Victoria, the BBC Casanova series has the titular character prepared to have a relationship with a man, but then luckily finds out they are a woman.
  • Dårfinkar och Dönickar. Isak finds out his new buddy Simon is actually Simone and decides he like-likes her (they're twelve).
  • Doctor Who:
    • The comedy skit "The Curse of Fatal Death" has the Doctor regenerating four times in ten minutes — his companion (and fiancée) copes with seeing her beloved turn into Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant, but when the final regeneration is female she sorrowfully announces that the Doctor is, quite literally, not the man she fell in love with. The Master, rather keen on the Doctor's new Joanna Lumley-shaped body, is only too happy to step in.
    • Interestingly averted years later in Doctor Who proper, when the good ship Doctor/Master did finally get two big damn snogs with one of them (the Master) now being female, but it had nothing to do with the trope. Writer Steven Moffat, who also wrote "The Curse of Fatal Death", went on record saying that gender isn't actually a factor for Time Lords when it comes to attraction and that there is no gender barrier for these characters.
  • In the Murder Most Horrid episode "A Severe Case of Death", Dawn French's character dresses as a man in order to impersonate a doctor. During the course of the episode, she meets a man with whom she shares a slightly more-than-friendly chemistry. After it is revealled that Dawn's character is really a woman they pursue a romantic relationship.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this trope is generally subverted with Benjamin Sisko and Dax; they have great chemistry, but it's purely platonic even after the Dax symbiont is transferred into beautiful Jadzia. Sisko still thinks of Dax as an "old man," after all. Sisko's trip into the mirror universe, however, finds that his alternate self and Mirror!Jadzia Dax have been playing this trope straight.
    • Oddly enough, Quark gets caught up in two distinct instances of this trope.
      • Quark's brilliant new assistant has fallen in love with him, greatly distressing Quark who is not interested in males but values the subordinate's insights and abilities. Unfortunately, the reveal that this Ferengi is actually a female posing as a male in order to have a chance to earn profit does not come as any real relief to Quark because females are forbidden from earning profit (or even wearing clothes) and if anyone ever found he got business advice from one, he would be ruined.
      • Another episode that never happened has it go exactly the opposite way as Quark's mother tries to champion the cause of equal rights for females. Quark ends up masquerading as his mother's female protege (too well) resulting in the man she was supposed to be negotiating with trying to seduce him. When another character intrudes in order to expose his ruse, Quark exposes just how far he went to champion his mother's cause.
  • In Young Americans, boarding school student Hamilton is troubled by his attraction to fellow resident Jake, freaking out when they end up kissing in the stalls. Jake, who is actually a girl in disguise, interrupts him by flashing her boobs and declaring "These aren't fake". Cue happily ever after!

  • The song "Tim I Wish You Were Born A Girl" by Of Montreal laments this. The protagonist says that his best friend would make a good match for him, if only he was a woman.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one series of FoxTrot strips, Jason has a nightmare (triggered by Kafka's The Metamorphosis) where he turns into a miniature version of his sister Paige. He frets that his guy friends will harass him when he shows up to school as a girl. Older brother Peter remarks "There are worse things than being made fun of"; enter Jason's friend Marcus, holding a bouquet and love hearts floating around his head.

    Tabletop RPGs 
  • Exalted has magically bonded pairs of people whose magic soul shards constantly reincarnate. Each pair is a Solar Exalt (Sun powers) paired with a Lunar Exalt (Moon powers, duh). However, the pairs don't always reincarnate in a gender that the other prefers (though bisexuality is common in Exalted, it is not universal). Some just end up forming platonic bonds that last the millennia of their lifespans. Or, the Lunar Exalt can pick up the Twin-Faced Hero knack... and change gender at will.
    • This isn't exclusive to Solar/Lunar couples, either. Two of the most prominent Lunar elders are a couple. One of them has a habit of changing sex every decade or so, and the other is completely straight, and will only acknowledge their relationship when the other is currently a woman.


  • The Dragon Doctors partially subverts this, as Mori and Sarin become a couple only after both of them change gender. Each admits to finding the other more sexually attractive in their current forms, though after Mori changes back to her original gender they continue the relationship even getting engaged.
  • El Goonish Shive plays with this possibility when (normally gay, temporarily female) Justin and (normally straight, temporarily male) Susan kiss (and stuff, though it ultimately goes nowhere). Shive presents as the only outcome that could possibly have ended well, and given that the alternative would have been two good friends having a quick roll in the hay for all the wrong reasons, with no chance of a Relationship Upgrade due to Incompatible Orientation, that was probably a safe bet.
    • Also has a straight example with Nanase and Ellen. Nanase was a closeted lesbian and didn't even realize it herself until she met Ellen, her ex-boyfriend's Opposite-Sex Clone. It's complicated. And spoilery.
    • Elliot and Justin tend to subvert this, as Justin is only attracted to Elliot when Elliot is male, but Elliot is only attracted to Justin when one of them is female, and Justin isn't interested in becoming a full-time girl.
    • Several universes where Tedd and Elliot are opposite genders result in this happening. For example, Beta Tedd and Beta Elliot (Ellen) are in a relationship. In a non-canon story where Tedd is female due to some reality-warping mishap (which retcons that she always was female), she and Elliot are in a relationship. Universes where they're opposite gender but not a couple include the Second Life universe, Magus's universe, and frequently the main universe (where most of the Ship Tease seems to happen when they are the same gender).
  • Played with and ultimately defied in Exiern: Denver thought Tiffany's genderbent nature and general loathing of his female body meant his (Denver's) feeling would remain one-sided. Then he learns Tiffany's origin story and learns Typhan-Knee was gay and thinks things have worked out for the best. Tiffany chews him out for assuming that now that that's in the open, he'd be "free" to be in a relationship with Denver, ignoring Tiffany's still prominent issues with his involuntary gender-bending. Ultimately averted (at least for now) when Denver chooses to stay behind and learn to control his newly-discovered draconic nature.
  • Mentioned by Jake in Homestuck, as apparently, he used to remark to Dirk that they were such good friends that he would totally go out with him if he were a girl. Dirk, for his part, is gay and in love with Jake. At least Jake admits in retrospect that he might have been leading him on a little. But then they get into a relationship. It doesn't last, although that's due to personality issues with everyone involved, not anyone's orientation.
  • Inverted in the Jet Dream Remix Comic, where before her transformation to T-Girl Harmony Thunder, T-Bird Squadron leader Jack Thunder had a Dating Catwoman relationship with Raven Red, leader of the Dynamic Dare-Dolls. Raven Red didn't react well to Harmony's change, due to Incompatible Orientation. (Harmony, however, seemed willing to give it a go.) The conflict pushed Raven Red over the edge into Psycho Ex-Girlfriend territory. She's now obsessed with either changing Harmony back into Jack (which all other characters know to be impossible), or killing her as a last resort.
  • Misfile inverts this by having guy-turned-girl told by straight-friend Emily that she would love him in a heartbeat if he was a boy. Since Ash is fighting Gender-Bending's most seen law and thinks of himself as a guy, he assumes that Emily is interested, with bad results. They get over it.
    • Also played straight with a male friend of Ash's; they met up after being separated for a while, and he suddenly tries to make out with her. Turns out her retroactive girl-self had a Relationship Upgrade with him...but Ash doesn't remember it, and isn't attracted to guys anymore. Cue awkwardness.
  • Shortpacked! has a rather odd example of this. Originally Ultra-Car was, as the name suggests, a sapient car, whom all the characters treated as male. Meanwhile, Malaya is a human woman who had dated men and experimented with women, only to conclude she was straight. Then Ultra-Car switched to a Fem Bot body, Malaya comes to the conclusion that she's actually Robo Sexual, and the two form a relationship (although Ultra Car is asexual).
  • Sort of invoked in Something*Positive, where the gay Jhim hits on a woman he thought was a man from behind. He winds up having a good time on their date, though, discovering she's a lot like his female friend Pee-Jee, and later laments to her how he wishes he could meet a man like that. Since Pee-Jee had had a crush on him for years, you can imagine she was annoyed.
  • Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki has the main character guy-turned-girl Yuuki's female childhood friend wait until after he turns into a girl to show romantic interest in him. Though given the general degree of Genre Savvy in a comic which explicitly runs on Magical Girl Manga and Anime tropes a Pseudo-Romantic Friendship may just be mandatory.

    Web Original 
  • Bowsette fanworks, notably Bowsette Saga, make this happen between Mario and Bowser. It's very common for the newly-transformed Bowsette, who had previously been nothing but on-off rivals with Mario, to happily marry him, and usually Mario has no objections either. This is sometimes averted in interpretations that have Bowsette still pine for Peach.
  • Played with in Geraldine. A man turns into a woman inexplicably, has his (her?) best female friend help out, and years later turns back into a man, just in time to run off with said friend.
  • This happens quite a lot on Literotica. Typically, a man gets turned into a woman and falls in love with his former best friend.
  • After The Nostalgia Critic did a crossover with Diamanda Hagan, the fandom obviously shipped them. Problem is that Critic's a guy (if a feminine one) and Dia is a Psycho Lesbian. Solution? Make Critic a girl so they can have all the BDSM sex ever.
  • In the Paradise setting, a number of stories feature involuntarily-gender-changed characters falling in love with someone of the gender they used to be, though they did not necessarily know them before the change. (In "After Hours", a woman who used to be a man fell in love with a man who used to be a woman.)

    Western Animation 
  • Inverted in American Dad! when Stan temporarily becomes a woman. Stan and Francine experiment with lesbianism, which doesn't work out. After Stan is turned back into a man, their sex life resumes. Though also played straight, since Avery Bullock tries taking advantage of the situation by attempting to seduce and bed Stan, and very nearly succeeds.
  • Played with in Cow and Chicken. When the question of Chicken's gender is put on the table in one episode after he laid an egg (it was actually a prank by The Red Guy), his best friends develop a crush on him believing that he is a "she".
  • Happened on Family Guy with a female Wholesome Crossdresser called Sam who Chris met. She kissed him when he still thought she was male. He said he just wanted to be friends (but privately noted it felt kinda good when "he" kissed him) before finding out she was actually female, after which he sort of thought a romantic relationship would be okay, except he had too much trouble talking to girls, a problem which he solved by pretending he didn't know she was female, thus subverting the trope - apparently he didn't really object to making out with a guy as long as other people wouldn't see it that way.


Video Example(s):


I'll Explain Later

The Doctor regenerates into a new feminine form their fiancée Emma sadly loses interest, their old foe the Master however is intrigued.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / JumpingTheGenderBarrier

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