Follow TV Tropes

Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope.
Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.


Rainbow Lens

Go To

Guy 1: All X-Men are totally queer!
Guy 2: Huh..?
Guy 1: When they're teens they start realising they're "different". You can't tell who's a mutant and who isn't. And there's douches who wanna take away their rights and shit!

This character is different. There's something about them, something that has a huge impact on their life and shapes who they are, but they have to keep it a secret. If anyone finds out they could be rejected by their loved ones, socially ostracized, or worse. They might hate this part of themselves and just want it to go away or they might embrace it and lament the fact that no one can ever know.

No, they are not gay. Why would you even ask that?

They have superpowers. They have magical powers. They can talk to animals or ghosts. They're not queer but something sets them apart from everyone else in their life in exactly the same way that being queer would. It feels like someone wanted to talk about it without actually talking about it.

The result is a story that looks suspiciously like a Coming-Out Story or a story about being outed or dealing with homophobia or accepting yourself even though it's ostensibly about something else. The character may or may not be Ambiguously Gay or Ambiguously Bi, but you can bet they have a huge LGBT Fanbase regardless. The trait that mimics sexual orientation will usually be magical or supernatural in nature and will often be something that those around them have a legitimate reason to fear, leading to Unfortunate Implications.

These stories will always involve a secret about the character that, if it's revealed, could have serious consequences. Other indications that this is happening often include:

  • The thing that the character must keep secret isn't something they have in common with family members
  • When the character talks about telling people, it's referred to in-universe as "coming out"
  • There is a prominent theme, either implicit or explicit, that the way the character presents themselves to others is "not their true self"
  • Others suggest that the character could be "cured"
  • The character telling their family about themselves or their family finding out is given special importance
  • Others finding out about the character's secret could cause them to be socially ostracized, rejected by family members, and/or lose their job or housing.
  • Others finding out about the character's secret could put the character in danger of physical harm or arrest
  • The work has an over-arching theme of acceptance
  • The work has an overarching theme of self-acceptance where the character starts out hating or fearing that part of themselves
  • The work has an over-arching theme of community where a character spends a large portion of their time with others like them, often having to hide it from their family
  • The media does not have any canonically queer characters while this story line is taking place

In self-contained media, such as a movie, that uses this trope, the story often begins with the character being "outed," leading to ridicule that sees the character at their lowest point. The character must then learn to accept themselves and use their power or ability to save the day, and the movie ends with their loved ones accepting them too. In longer-running media like TV shows, the character is more likely to completely accept themselves from the beginning and have some other reason to want to keep everything secret, inevitably leading to drama when other characters come close to finding out.

When done intentionally, this can allow a creator to explore queer themes in situations where queer characters aren't allowed or without alienating a conservative audience. When done unintentionally, it can make for some entertaining cell phone footage of flustered creators trying to answer unexpected questions about sexuality at cons.

Note that while superpowers and magical abilities are the common traits that are used for this type of metaphor, this trope is not limited to superpowers and magical abilities.

Compared to Fantastic Racism, where a fictional species is used as a stand-in to talk about problems faced by people of color, and Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?, where any group of fantasy creatures or people with powers are used as a stand-in to talk about any marginalized real-life group, while this more specific trope is usually used on a more individual level. The character may be the only person with their power or ability that they know of, and if they are part of a larger community, the work will often focus more on their personal journey towards acceptance rather than the overarching societal repercussions.

Also similar to Gay Aesop and But Not Too Gay. Subtrope of Applicability. Compare Trans Audience Interpretation, which is when fans interpret a character as actually trans, not as a metaphor.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Beastars: The arc Legosi goes through feels to many fans as a queer teenager coming out and learning to deal with his sexuality. It technically is, in fact, it just doesn't have to do with the gender of his partner, but rather their species. He finds out that his sexual and romantic preferences are taboo in the world, but chooses to be truthful to them and pursue the person he loves, he worries about the future he can provide to a partner in these conditions, etc. While some people read the herbivore/carnivore relationships as similar to interracial relations, there are similarities to same-sex relationships as well, such as a boom in these occurring recently as a background event, the legality of such marriages being a rather recent thing and still having caveats, the similarities between carnivore/herbivore relationships and same-sex relationships is even given a parallel when in a night club, a carnivore woman narrates that they won't follow the rules of heterosexuality there while making out with a female that is implied to be a herbivore. There is also the fact that some fans see Legosi as pansexual/bisexual due to his comments about Louis being beautiful making some believe that he is attracted to species rather than gender.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon: The Series:
      • "Bulbasaur's Mysterious Garden" is an episode about Ash's Bulbasaur refusing to evolve despite severe pressure from others of its kind. Eventually, Bulbasaur manages to get them to respect and accept its decision to live a different lifestyle from them. Some viewers have seen the episode's themes as applicable to the struggles many LGBT people go through to find acceptance in their community, and the moral that being different from the norm is not necessarily a bad thing has been read as affirmation of queer identity.
      • "Go West, Young Meowth" can be interpreted as a transgender allegory. Meowth defies the expectations of his species by learning how to walk and talk like a human being, only to be shunned as a freak by the one he was trying to impress. In the end, one of the reasons he sticks with Team Rocket even though they're not only criminals but loser criminals, is because they actually accept him for who he is. Notably, this episode was reportedly the reason why Meowth's voice actor, the late Maddie Blaustein, came out as transgender.
    • Pokémon Adventures: Ruby is an effeminate Camp Straight boy who runs away from home because his father Norman supposedly doesn't like him being a Pokémon Coordinator (which is a feminine thing) and would prefer if he battled instead. To make matters worse, when Norman finds Ruby he physically assaults him, though it also turns out that Norman was fine with Ruby being a Coordinator. To explain, Ruby enjoyed battling and was more rough as a youth, but after an incident involving Sapphire, he believed he traumatized her and he turned to Coordinating. In a twist, Sapphire also believed her tender nature got Ruby hurt and became much more tomboyish as a result.
  • Many fans interpret Nano Shinonome in Nichijou as a trans allegory, based on her insecurity over her physical differences, fear of being exposed as a robot, and wish to be accepted as a normal girl.
  • In Ranma ½, Akane initially becomes Ranma's fiancee because she "doesn't like men", thus "it's a chance he's half-girl". Then she reluctantly becomes a Secret-Keeper of his Gender Bender status, and that's why she gets enraged when Nabiki reveals to the class that they are fiancees, as she doesn't want to be seen as a "pervert", that is, implicitly, non-straight. Her interactions with female Ranma are ambiguous, as she often seems jealous but for no valid reason (Ranma being a straight guy, he isn't likely to become a rival for Akane in any way), and in the original manga, she sometimes distinctly blushes when she gets physically or emotionally close to female Ranma, just like with Dr. Tofu or male Ranma. More generally, her experience with female Ranma echoes common queer themes: self-discovery, fear of being outed, inability to express affection publicly, confronting homophobia (including internalized homophobia), etc. Some related Character Development can be seen throughout the series, as by the Mariko Konjo arc, she doesn't seem to care anymore about what people will think of her, and it works. Relatedly, she has been read as a possible closeted bisexual (or at least as a bisexual allegory) by parts of the fandom (and not just for Self-Fanservice reasons), most notably (and infamously) on Wikipedia.
  • Urusei Yatsura: Ryuunosuke's endless distress over her father forcing her to crossdress and present as a man when she really just wants to be allowed to be feminine has been compared to the real-life family dynamics trans youth face when trying to present as their gender. Ryuunosuke's father flat-out denies her true gender and refuses to buy her feminine clothes. Ryuunosuke has also been interpreted as a young lesbian due to her aversion to men and closeness with women. She even agreed to date Shinobu and Benten!

    Comic Books 
  • Runaways:
    • In the original series, Karolina's grappling with the discovery that she is an alien was a not-at-all subtle metaphor for her growing realization that she's a lesbian. The second series decided to stop beating around the bush and had her come out to her friends.
    • Klara's Green Thumb abilities are weak because of her crap upbringing. Furthermore, she is believed to be a mutant and is pretty homophobic to boot. However, her powers get exponentially stronger as she learns to value herself and as her Pseudo-Romantic Friendship with Molly develops, with some of her more impressive displays of power occurring when she wants to protect Molly from danger. It's also worth noting that her power usually manifests itself in the form of red roses, which are traditionally a symbol of intense romantic love. Furthermore, given how mutants tended to be evocative of LGTBQ+ folk in modern times, it further makes sense (even if Klara's mutant status is only assumed and never explicitly made clear.)
    • In Runaways (Rainbow Rowell), Molly's emotional turmoil just happens to revolve around her very close friendships with Abigail and Klara, which she feels unable to discuss with Gert or Nico because they just happen to disapprove of those friendships. Though with Abigail, it turns out they were right to disapprove as Abigail is actually over fifty years old who kept herself alive through a youth serum and wanted Molly to remain young forever alongside her. As for Klara, given how she is Happily Adopted by two men, one may get the feeling the Runaways feel stung by her refusal to return to them.
  • She-Hulk was often written, intentionally or not, as similar to a transgender person, particularly during the John Byrne and Dan Slott runs. To recap: Jennifer Walters is a shy, insecure attorney who transforms into She-Hulk, a confident and sassy Green Glamazon. She-Hulk spent a good 20 years or so never once changing back into Jennifer, saying she is just happier as She-Hulk. There was a comic where her father was unable to deal with how drastically different her She-Hulk persona was from the daughter he raised and admitted (while she was eavesdropping) that he just wants his daughter back. Later on, she got a job at a law firm where her boss forced her to be Jennifer again, and she was very much not okay with it but grinned and bore it anyway. Her boyfriend John Jameson also has trouble dealing with her as She-Hulk, since he fell in love with Jennifer, not She-Hulk. It's not difficult to see the parallels to someone who was born a specific gender but found they were much happier as the opposite and then had to deal with the fallout of that decision in their personal life.
  • Supergirl has occasionally been written as paralleling a closeted gay person (as in her TV show). This one goes all the way back to her earliest appearances, where Superman forced her to hide her powers until he decided she was ready to reveal them to the world. In Supergirl: Being Super, her Gay Best Friend tells her this as they're saying goodbye to each other:
    Never pretend to be normal ever again, okay?
  • After the cooldown of the massive race civil rights movement in the 60s and 70s, the entire X-Men franchise is seen as one huge metaphor for gay people (as opposed to the original more racism-focused premise). Mutant powers are expressed during one's teenage years, sometimes mutants are obvious at first glance while other times they're not, and it can happen to literally anyone, regardless of race or social status. This leads to the point of extreme Lampshade Hanging, as Mutants who can pass for human are sometimes referred to be "in the closet", some of their most prominent opponents are conservative Christians who think their mere existence is sin, and there's an ever-present movement to cure them of their condition.
    • To stay relevant with the times, in the '90s during the gay AIDS epidemic, mutants were given a disease called the Legacy Virus that was essentially mutant AIDS, which the writers refused to find a cure for "until AIDS is cured". Apparently, nobody at Marvel actually expected a cure for AIDS to elude humanity for over two decades, so it became a Plot Tumor of asking the greatest scientists in the universe who can create dimensional portals and cybernetics "When is that cure coming again?", every month. So the cure was eventually found.
    • Parodied in ItsJustSomeRandomGuy's Youtube series I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC:
      Superman: But I've got friends who are mutants! Like... uh, Spider-Man?
      Spider-Man: Hey, I'm not a mutant! ...Not That There's Anything Wrong with That.
    • Taken to its logical extreme in Dark Avengers-X-Men: The Beginning, where it's revealed that the San Francisco neighborhood known as the Castro is a mutant neighborhood instead of a gay community like in real life. Vote no on Prop X and all that.
    • A special issue that deals with a teenage boy being "outed" as a mutant. After training to control his powers, he goes home to find that his parents, originally rejecting him, have finally accepted him; that the girl he had a secret crush on is now interested in him; and that his oldest friend since they were babies has shut him out completely. Hmmm...
    • Many real-life minority-rights groups are beginning to find the association a bit condescending, considering comics' ongoing problem with diversity, seeing it as the co-opting of a struggle for characters that are overwhelmingly straight and white.
    • The metaphor is also strained by the fact that there are reasons other than irrational bigotry to be leery of superpowered mutants — some of them are genuinely dangerous because they cannot fully control their abilities or because they turn them to crime and terrorism. Not to mention there are plenty of mutants who want to have their mutations/powers removed or at the very least be made undetectable.
  • Young Avengers: Wiccan (who is gay) attempts to tell his parents that he has superpowers, they misunderstand and assume he's trying to come out to them and tell him that they knew and that they accept him.

    Comic Strips 
  • Bloom County: At one point, Bill the Cat (reinventing himself as Greedy Televangelist "Fundamentally Oral Bill") abruptly declares "penguin lust" to be the most terrible sin facing our society. Everyone in Bloom County promptly turns againt Opus, ostracizing him, kicking him out of his home, and revoking his library card.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Mega Crossover fanfiction, Child of the Storm, upon finding out that Bobby Drake has mutant powers, his mom is in total denial, his brother thinks he's a monster, and his father tells him "okay, but you better hide it" (though he's more positive about it once Professor X turns up with the demonstrable ability to help Bobby get a handle on his powers).
  • In Resonance Days Many fans pick up on the similarities between the psychological and moral issues that arise from using a witch's old name and the concept of deadnaming, frequently drawing parallels in the comment sections of both Resonance Days and Walpurgis Nights. Kyoko's difficulty with accepting Oktavia as her own person, and Oktavia's discomfort with that in particular reads heavily like someone struggling to accept that someone they're close to is trans, with Oktavia's rant in chapter 24 in particular feeling vindicating for many trans people who can see themselves in her experience.
  • In The Serpent’s Vow, Seto is rather afraid of coming out as an alien to his friends and violently reacts to a former acquaintance of his trying to force him back into being his subordinate, explicitly because of his ability to produce youngs. Even if his friends fully accept him, Stargate Command is awkward around him for being "unusual" — and this is in the Don't Ask Don't Tell era. Also, the fact that he's sexually female yet is extremely defensive of his male body has been noticed: the author staunchly maintains the Goa'uld are genderless and Seto merely wants to keep the only body he has ever owned, but it didn't stop the readers to see the character as a trans man.
  • In the Fan Film TRULY OUTRAGEOUS: A Jem Fan Film!, Kimber being a robot is intentionally a queer allegory. She's different from others but doesn't realize it at first. After recognizing it, she becomes more curious about it and wants to explore it more. Kimber is also bisexual in the film.

    Films — Animated 
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast adds symbolism that isn't in the traditional fairytale. The Beast and Belle are both isolated and ostracized by others. "The Mob Song" has similarities to fear-mongering towards LGBTQ people, especially during the AIDS crisis, and Belle's oddness is referred to as "a pity and a sin" by the townspeople in her introductory song. Said lyrics were written by Howard Ashman, a gay man who died of HIV/AIDS-related complications shortly before Beauty and the Beast was released; it's theorized this perspective influenced his work, though his loved ones insist he wasn't deliberately aiming for any allegories.
  • Brother Bear: Kenai's arc revolving around his idea of what it means to be a "man", involving physical transformation, rings a bell with some trans people.
  • Encanto has Isabela, Mirabel's older sister and the family's "perfect golden children". Slated for engagement to the most handsome man in town, Isabela is furious when Mirabel ruins the proposal dinner and refuses to accept her younger sister's insincere apology. Frustrated with Isabela because they need to make up to keep their enchanted house from falling down around them, Mirabel calls Isabela out on being a "spoiled, selfish princess" who's never had any real problems, and that she can still marry the man she wants. Isabela angrily retorts that she didn't want to marry him, but was merely acting out of obligation to her family, especially Abuelita. Her subsequent musical number has her revealing that she feels stifled and overwhelmed by the expectations placed on her, and a yearning to be free to discover and express herself how she sees fit. The film ends with her remaining gleefully single with multi-colored hair.
  • Frozen
    • Elsa has magical powers that she was born with. Her parents hide her away and pressure her to try to control them and she ends up afraid of them and of herself. This leads to her being outed in front of a crowd of people and then fleeing as those around her suddenly turn on her. She only gains some control over her powers once she's alone in the wilderness and is finally able to be herself (after singing a song with lyrics like "Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I've tried," "I don't care what they're going to say," and "that perfect girl is gone"). She later learns that the key to controlling them is love, but not before they nearly get her and her sister killed.
      Elsa: Don't let them in. Don't let them see. Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don't feel, put on a show. Make one wrong move and everyone will know.
    • Frozen II extends this metaphor to finding the community. While Elsa is now accepted in Arendelle, she still feels out of place. She goes off on a journey of self-discovery. When she finally reaches Ahtohallan, she is overjoyed to learn that it's frozen like she is. The song she sings there is about finding answers about herself and finally feeling like she belongs.
      Elsa: I can sense you there, like a friend I've always known. I'm arriving, and it feels like I am home [...] Here I am, I've come so far. You are the answer I've waited for all of my life. Show yourself, let me see who you are.
  • The plot of Incredibles 2 revolves around legalizing superheroes, making it rife for all kinds of civil rights-related metaphors. In particular, Voyd explicitly equates being allowed to be a superhero with being able to be herself and is overjoyed to join a group where everyone is like her.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989):
    • The story is about a teenager who is in love with someone her society, and especially her family, rejects. She loses her voice and literally cannot speak to Eric ("the love that dares not speak its name") until the end of the film. On top of Ariel's love for Eric, there's coding in her isolation towards others. Her "I Want" Song "Part Of Your World", highlights her feelings of isolation and her desires to be accepted by others. She eventually deviates from the norm in order to achieve her desires, similar to a queer character in a Coming-Out Story.
    • Many have also interpreted Ariel's desire to live with humans, and to become human herself, as an allegory for being transgender.
  • Shortly after the first trailer for Luca dropped, the premise has already come to be seen as a metaphor for two boys in love (given how close the two protagonists are) but having to hide it (their merfolk forms) for fear of being shunned or worse by the town they live in. This interpretation is given even further credence in the context of the whole movie. Luca's parents plan to send him away to keep him from his friend's "bad influence", Alberto shows visible jealousy when Luca starts spending more time with Giulia, Alberto was abandoned by his father much like a lot of queer youth are disowned by their parents, Luca's parents wonder what they did wrong and say that they never thought he'd "do something like this", and at the end, when Luca's parents have accepted him, they are worried for his safety since they know there will always be people who don't accept him for who he is. There's also the pair of old ladies who are always seen together and who are revealed to be sea creatures as well. The similarities were even noted by the New York Times' review of it, with the review being subtitled "Calamari By Your Name".
  • NIMONA (2023): Nimona's propensity for shapeshifting can be read as allegorical for someone who is gender-fluid. She can never stick to a single form for very long because she feels more comfortable shapeshifting than simply picking a single form and staying in it, acting confused when Ballister asks her to stay in her "true" form. Her first human form is that of a young girl with long hair and soft features, and her current humanoid shape is more ambiguous, with more masculine hair and neutral clothes. She's viewed as a dangerous "other" to a society with strong hierarchical values, and the one person who treats her with kindness is the Straight Gay Ballister, showing a form of LGBT solidarity.
  • In ParaNorman, Norman can speak to the dead. His power has isolated him from his family and caused him to be ridiculed by his peers. When Norman's powers are exposed during a school play, his father, who wants him to be more "normal," grounds him. Norman is told by the ghost of his grandmother that it's okay to be scared as long as he doesn't let it change who he is. Norman is able to save his town after he is able to bond with the wrathful spirit over their shared status as outcasts, and in the end, Norman's family accepts him along with his power.
  • Shark Tale features a shark named Lenny who wants to be vegetarian, a decision that his dad doesn't seem to appreciate. Lenny wanting to make this known to everyone after telling Oscar is played out in such a way that it can easily be interpreted as a metaphor for coming out as gay. Lenny later dresses up as a dolphin named Sebastian (even though dolphins are actually carnivores in real life), which can be seen as similar to crossdressing associated with drag queens or to being transgender.
  • While many have always read the basic storyline of Spider-Man as queer regarding the hiding a part of your identity from those around you, others find that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse especially resonates, with the spider-people sensing others like them being reminiscent of 'gaydar,' and Miles asking his father if he really hates Spider-Man, just like queer people often ask their families how they really feel about LGBTQ+ people and issues before coming out.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Joker: Arthur's an effete-looking man with a passion for makeup and performance and relies on medication to handle the stresses - both seen and unseen - of his existence. His own parents don't love him, adults get creeped out when he hangs around children and a celebrity that he once idolised publicly mocks Arthur just for being himself. Also, when Arthur asks to be referred to as "Joker", Murray slips a few times and calls him "Arthur", which isn't too far removed from the concept of dead-naming.
  • The Lost Boys. A teenage boy who's new in town falls in with a group of vampires who are depicted as aggressively masculine, countercultural bad boys (plus one girl who becomes his obligatory Love Interest just in case viewers started asking too many questions), while his brother, who wears a "Born to Shop" nightshirt and has a beefcake poster of Rob Lowe on the door of his closet, has to save him. What's more, vampirism is depicted as a bloodborne illness. As such, many have read the film as a gay allegory despite all the romantic relationships in the film being straight. It helps that its director Joel Schumacher was openly gay.
  • Man of Steel has been interpreted as such.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge is about a teenage boy with the unisex name Jesse who has to fend off the advances of Freddy Krueger, who spends the film trying to possess his body. While Jesse has a female Love Interest, he is otherwise heavily coded as gay throughout, while the gym teacher Coach Schneider is a Depraved Homosexual who is killed with towel snaps. Most of the people who worked on the film have stated that its gay allegories were absolutely intentional.
  • In the Disney Channel Original Movie Now You See It..., Danny is a social outcast because he is hiding magical powers he can't control. This leads him to push away people who are trying to get to know him for fear of what will happen if he accidentally uses his powers on them. Danny then meets a man who claims to also have real magical powers and gives Danny a ring that will take his powers away until he's ready to deal with them. It's only with the ring on that Danny feels comfortable enough to socialize with other teenagers. Even after being told that the ring is a trick by his only friend, Danny refuses to take it off.
  • X-Men:
    • In X2: X-Men United, after Iceman, surrounded by his mutant friends, tells his parents he's a mutant, his mother asks him when he first knew, blames herself, and asks him if he's tried not being a mutant while his brother storms out of the room and calls the police.
    • In X-Men: The Last Stand, Angel's status as a mutant is a clear sexual orientation metaphor. The film begins with his anti-mutant father walking in on him trying to cut off his wings as a child to hide his mutation. His father throws himself into developing a "cure", which his son is supposed to be the first to test. At the last minute, he decides he doesn't want to be cured and flees, seeking refuge at Xavier's school, where he is surrounded by other mutants for the first time and learns to be proud of his status as a mutant. This whole subplot is very obviously a commentary on attempts to "correct" non-heterosexual orientation.
    • The author of the article "Ellen Page has super-powers, but why is this newsworthy?" milks this for all it's worth where he writes an article discussing X-Men actor Elliot Page coming outnote  by replacing every mention of homosexuality with "mutant with super-power" and ran with it.

  • Many of Hans Christian Andersen's stories are believed to be allegories for his experiences as a bisexual man in the highly queerphobic world of 19th century Europe. Among other examples:
    • The title character of The Little Mermaid has feelings for someone she's not allowed to, she literally can't speak of her feelings (i.e. "the love that dares not speak its name"), and the prince ultimately rejects her to be with someone more "conventional," his fiancée princess. Andersen is thought to have written The Little Mermaid out of a similar experience in his life: he fell in love with a man he could never have, both because the man was already engaged and because back then, same-sex relationships were taboo.
    • In The Ugly Duckling, the titular "duckling" is immediately singled out as different for his appearance and is bullied by his siblings, motivating him to run away before realizing as an adult that he was actually a swan all along, and that he only saw himself as ugly because all he could compare himself to were ducks, ultimately finding happiness with other swans. This arc is noted as having strong parallels with queer people's experiences with anti-LGBT+ bullying, internalized queerphobia, and forming a Family of Choice with other queer folks.
  • Tobias from Animorphs is often interpreted as a transgender allegory, transforming from a human body into a hawk's, with which he feels infinitely more free.note  The authors have stated this was unintentional, but have given their blessing to readers who interpret it that way, and are outspoken allies of the trans community.
  • The children's picture book Goblinheart: A Fairy Tale intentionally uses Trans Nature characters as a metaphor for transgender youth. Julep is a fairy who insists they're a goblin. Julep meets a younger goblin named Tuck who insists they're a fairy.
  • In the Harry Potter books, Remus Lupin is specifically coded as a gay man with AIDS. Because of his lycanthropy, he was almost unable to attend school as a child and cannot find a job. When he is exposed as a werewolf at the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he has to leave the school because parents won't want him teaching their children. Then in the last book, he freaks out over the possibility his son might have lycanthropy as well, like a parent afraid their condition might be passed to the child in the womb. Additionally, his story fits stereotypes regarding gay men that were common in the 1990s, when the series was written. He acquired lycanthropy after being preyed on as a child by a revenge-seeking adult male werewolf who habitually targeted children in order to pass the condition to them, and at the time, the idea of gay men intentionally spreading a harmful condition (specifically, AIDS) was a common stereotype. There was also a common belief that gayness itself could be "contagious."
  • In InCryptid, being a sorcerer can be read as a queer allegory. Seanan McGuire definitely doesn't need a queer allegory when she has actual queer characters, but with Antimony and James, it seems like she might have written it that way subconsciously, especially since James is gay and Annie is Ambiguously Bi. (And with James, his father's hatred of magic is mixed in with the actual homophobia). At the beginning of her story, Annie is hiding her magic from her family, worried about how they'll react. When she goes undercover, she has to hide it for her very survival. She finally reveals her secret to Sam, once she decides she can trust him. As she continues her coming-of-age journey, she reveals it to other close friends (Fern and Cylia) but has to give up her magic to save her and Sam's lives. Then with James, she's finally met another person like her, and they help each other figure out how to fully actualize themselves (break James's curse/get Annie's powers back from the Crossroads). Annie returns home fully "out" now that she realizes that her family will accept her no matter what.
    • In the case of Thomas, who as far as we know is straight, he describes the onset of his magical powers as linked to puberty, which is also around the time many people discover their sexuality.
  • Tip from The Marvelous Land of Oz is a popular example of this trope, which analyzers and future Land of Oz adaptations have toyed around with. He was born a girl but was magically transformed into a boy and raised as male. Later on, he learns the truth and is turned back into his true form, Ozma (which, depending on his Vague Age, occurred in pre-adolescence or adolescence). All the genderbending makes it popular to reinterpret Ozma through a transgender lens. In Emerald City he specifically identifies as male even on being turned back, so he's more clearly written as a trans boy and relieved after gaining the ability to change his form.
  • Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall, a children's picture book about a crayon who wears a red label and is thus viewed as red by the other crayons despite actually being blue, has been widely interpreted as an allegory for being transgender.
  • In The Tale Of Magic, magic is considered a sin and a choice and is punishable by death in most areas. The main source of this claim is a religion that’s completely coincidently similar to Christianity. There’s also facilities meant to cure people of their magic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Dinosaurs episode "I Never Ate For My Father" treats vegetarianism as a combination of drug use and homosexuality.
  • Michael's relationship with humanity in The Good Place has been called a transgender allegory, with other demons ostracizing him for how he wants to be human, adopting even the corniest aspects of human culture, and his great reluctance to let his friends see his true form as a fire squid can be seen as analogous to dysphoria. The Grand Finale fulfills his one true wish by letting him become a real human on Earth.
  • Holby City had a non-supernatural variant when Chloe Godard discovered her co-worker Dominic Copeland was actually her half-brother Darren, but he'd changed his name at some point, and Chloe's mom Ange had given him up for adoption at some unspecified point before the show. The discovery of the relationship between Chloe and Dominic was compared to a coming-out for LGBT people, even though, Dominic had already come out and everyone knew he was gay anyway, despite the issues being totally different - half-siblings and LGBT.
  • Once Upon a Time
    • When Emma starts showing signs of having magic in season 4, her magic is treated this way. Season 4A sees Elsa, who has largely accepted her powers at this point, help Emma accept hers as well. In Smash the Mirror, Pt.1:
      Elsa: They accept us for who we are, and that's important, but it's not enough. It's on us too. You have to love yourself, Emma. The good and the bad. The only way to ever be truly in control of your powers is to embrace them. Because this... this is who you are.
    • This trope comes back in season 5A with some Unfortunate Implications. After Emma becomes the Dark One but before the plot gets derailed, much of the storyline consists of her family and friends trying to "fix" her darkness and get her back to the person they knew her as, while Emma insists that this is who she is and they need to accept her. We'd previously found out via Flashback that Snow had a vision that Emma might turn out to be evil before she was born, so she and Charming tried to cast all the darkness out of her as a precaution.
  • Police, Camera, Action! may be an Edutainment series, but the trope still applies in Very Special Episode "Highway of Tomorrow" which aired in 2000 and predicted a future of Automated Automobiles, 14 years before mainstream media discussed them and hyped them, and showed how social attitudes in the future would make car ownership be seen as something shameful and oppressive, much the same way as LGBTQ individuals are. This bordered on a Hard Truth Aesop; self-driving cars are not society's panacea, no matter how much the media would like to proclaim it as they did in The New '10s, and that automobile enthusiasts also have a right to use the roads and should feel no shame in enjoying their passion.
  • In Raven's Home, Raven being excited about being able to tell her kids that she's psychic after being closeted for over a decade is comparable to many things, but most obviously to someone coming out about their sexuality.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series had Spock, who faced Half-Breed Discrimination on account of his nature and had to make conscious choices about which aspects of himself to embrace. Replace "being a Half-Human Hybrid" with "being gay" and the subtext becomes obvious. With this in mind, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that Spock is half of the original Slash Fic pairing.
  • Supergirl (2015)
    • Kara being an alien is treated this way, to the extent that she and other characters refer to her becoming Supergirl as "coming out" several times. In the pilot, Kara tells Alex that she's always felt the need to help people, and Alex worries about people figuring out "who you are... what you are." In season 2, we also learn about the presence of alien bars that are hidden in remote locations and require a password to get in, reminiscent of forties-era gay bars.
    • In "Livewire", Kara refers to Alex telling her mother that she works for the DEO as "coming out." This turns out to be the first of two Thanksgiving episodes that have Alex coming out to Eliza.
    • Dreamer's status as an alien and transgender woman is baited and switched a few times, and she "comes out" as both at once as a show of solidarity. Plus her powers also tie into her own coming out as a trans girl during her childhood, as they're a Gender-Restricted Ability.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This trope is one of the explanations for the popularity of Tieflings in Dungeons & Dragons and their LGBT Fanbase. Due to their demonic look, which most usually comes from being descendants of Fiends, they have often been ostracized and persecuted by humans and other races. The assumption they're inherently evil and their whole existence is a sin is so common even actual hellish entities often feel entitled to their servitude for nothing. But unlike other "monstrous" races (Orcs, Goblinoids, etc), Tieflings can also come in all kinds of body types and are commonly portrayed as attractive and charismatic, as well as being less another race with their own traditions and history but coming from all kinds of races, finding others who look like them building their own communities and culture. As such it is very easy to see them as an LGBTQ metaphor and building a Tiefling character fitting any type of empowering fantasy for all kinds of LGBTQ people is rather easy.
  • In addition to having Tieflings, D&D offshoot Pathfinder also introduced Changelings, the children of Hags. Sharing many cultural similarities with Tieflings, Changelings can also undergo something called The Calling, where the Changeling's mother supernaturally compels them to join their coven and become evil Hags themselves. While there are Changelings that are gung-ho about this process, they don't tend to be player characters, and roleplaying a good or even neutral Changeling undergoing this process can very easily be seen as similar to an LGBTQ child with an unsupportive parent who is trying to force them to be something they're not. In 1st Edition, Changelings were a One-Gender Race just like their mothers, but 2nd Edition expanded Changelings so they can be any gender, with Hags remaining female-only, making the trans allegory even clearer.

  • BIONICLE: Many in the fandom's LGBT Fanbase have interpreted Av-Matoran, and Takua in particular, as a Transgender allegory. They're the only type of Matoran who can be either gender and can also use their light powers to change their color, essentially choosing their gender presentation.note  Takua lived most of his life believing he was a Ta-Matoran, despite his mask being the wrong color, and feeling that he didn't quite belong. In the Mask of Light movie, Jaller's dying words to him are "You were always different," after which he accepts his true identity and becomes the Toa of Light.
  • Ever After High:
    • Cerise is half-wolf and hides her ears behind her hood. Fans have taken this as either an allegory for being LGBTQ or an allegory for being chronically ill.
    • Apple White's character arc has been analyzed as being an allegory for heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality. Apple has been raised with the goal of being the next Snow White and marrying her chosen Prince Charming. Apple expects to marry Daring Charming, but she isn't romantically interested in him yet; she just says that they don't need to date because "[they've] got forever after to be together". In Dragon Games, Apple struggles with her self-image in her relationship with her friend and future villain Raven. After overcoming her issues with Raven, Apple accidentally eats a poisoned apple and falls into a magical coma. She's awoken not by Daring, but by his sister Darling Charming giving her CPR, which acts similarly to True Love's Kiss. The next special shows that Daring is not Apple's Prince Charming but the next Beast, suggesting that Apple's romantic fate is elsewhere.

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Age II, romancing Anders with a male Hawke turns the game's Mage-Templar conflict, where mages are locked away out of fear of their powers, into a blunt metaphor for homosexuality. Without context, Anders's famous line at the end of the game can just as easily be taken as referring to the fact that he and Hawke are both men as it is the fact that the Chantry discourages mages from forming romantic relationships. note 
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], towards the beginning of Riku's visit to La Cité des Cloches, he asks Quasimodo if it was really Frollo keeping him from leaving the cathedral, or if it was his own self holding him back. Later, after Quasimodo thanks him for the advice, Riku admits that he was speaking from personal experience. Phoebus responds by saying he probably still keeps a lot inside, and Esmeralda reassures Riku that everyone does that sometimes. She then follows up with, "There are just some things we need to keep separate from the world at large, at least until we have time to figure them out." Which sounds very much like something you'd say to a queer person upset with themself for not coming out yet. And that's not even going into Esmeralda persecuted for being Romani, as in the source material.
  • Many fans interpret Erika from Pokémon Red and Blue as a lesbian since her Gym has only female Trainers and Ash Ketchum had to crossdress in order to be able to challenge her Gym.
  • In Psychonauts 2, the Aquato family's reactions to learning Razputin is psychic closely resemble the aftermath of a Coming-Out Story. Augustus is unexpectedly supportive and prompted into his own Late Coming Out. Donatella is "trying to be broad-minded" but wishes her son and husband would "hide [their] shame where no one can see it." Frazie is terrified of being Forced Out of the Closet by her brother out of desired solidarity. And Dion is disgusted Raz would openly flaunt his "unnatural" nature and insists their dad is just going through a phase.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: Alvis' rather gender-neutral features and constant talk of being separate from humanity led to a large LGBT Fanbase around him. In later games, this ends up being canon; Alvis is actually Ontos, the third of the Trinity Processor supercomputers. While Pneuma was designed to be female and Logos designed to be male, Ontos was designed to be non-binary, balanced between them. When instantiated as Alvis, Ontos was heavily influenced by Klaus, which is why he appeared male, but by Future Redeemed they were able to incarnate as A, who is explicitly non-binary.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Nia fled from her family trying to force her into a specific role, fell in with a disreputable group because they accepted who she was, joined a much more reputable group but was worried about revealing her true self, when Mythra saw her in the bath she immediately identified Nia's secret and promised to keep it quiet, and Nia eventually has a major scene where she reveals her true nature along with a major clothing change and a Love Confession to her love interest. Her secret is that she's a Flesh Eater Blade, but it comes off a lot like a metaphor for being transgender.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Sena is a Tomboy, as she loves exercise, has an almost Bromance-like friendship with Lanz, and has a hairstyle akin to a boy's aside from the ponytail. Her character arc is about her being pressured to follow expectations that she doesn't want to meet. As the journey progresses, Sena slowly learns that she is her own person and that she doesn't need to follow what society expects her to do. This is something that a lot of trans people can relate to, so it's common in fanfiction for her to transition in the story.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: In "Turnabout Academy", Robin Newman reveals she is actually a girl raised as a boy, however, the way she reveals this to the court and the subsequent way in which she moves on with her life is extremely reminiscent of a trans girl starting her social transition and coming out. She mentions she wants to feel pretty like her female friend Juniper, talks with a teacher so she can set up with the school administration once she starts living as a girl, her deep rage at something she considers a sign of masculinity (bracers), etc.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! has Natsuki's poem "Amy Likes Spiders". The poem is about a girl the narrator can't stand due to her interest in spiders, going so far as to not let her touch her, and thinks anyone who's friends with Amy will become a spider-lover, too. As such, this can be read as a metaphor for a homophobe feeling disgusted by a gay person, thinking that their mere touch and companionship will turn the people around them gay. This is, of course, helped by the fact that the narrator of the poem is intended to look like a bigot who judges people for things that don't hurt anyone.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Penny Polendina has a Become a Real Boy storyline, and the way it pans out earned her a lot of trans fans. When she admits to Ruby that she isn't a "real girl", Ruby objects, affirming that Penny is as real as she is because having different parts doesn't change that. Penny is then forcibly outed by the villains in Volume 3 to generate fear about her existence. Her second form is more visibly feminine, but the villains still try and "other" her to society. Throughout the show, the world, story, and characters repeatedly affirm that it is Penny's heart and soul that make her a real girl, not her body. This is emphasised when Penny receives the Winter Maiden's powers, which can only go to young women; it's further explored when the villains' attempt to hack her body is fought by her Aura long enough for a living, female body to be crafted from her soul in a process that is described as "her coming to the surface".
    • Neopolitan, as revealed in RWBY: Roman Holiday, was raised as Trivia Vanille by her abusive parents, who forced her to hide her imagination and personality. She eventually left, changing her appearance and name to the Neopolitan seen in the show. She also dislikes synthetic voice modulators that might let her communicate easier since the artificial voice feels too distant from who she is, not unlike vocal dysphoria. All in all, Neopolitan comes across as an allegory for being trans.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: "Princess Cookie" is easily read as an allegory for being transgender. It's about Cookie desperately wanting to be a princess. It culminates in a suicide attempt, but he survives and gets his wish in the end.
  • The gay subtext in Centaurworld can barely still be called "subtext", but there aren't any officially trans characters in the show. However, Ched's backstory song (about admiring the huge, burly Horsetaurs as a little boy and wanting to participate in their sport - which involves jousting lances, come on...) is so easy to interpret as a trans metaphor that this was likely intentional. And at the very end of the series, he lays an egg as an unexplained throw-away gag.
    • The phase in season 1 when Horse was struggling with her changing character design (and embarrassing new magic tail) draws some pretty obvious parallels to the body dysphoria that many trans kids experience as they enter puberty. (Though Horse eventually makes peace with the new body shape that was forced on her.) And there also are a few lines in the reprise of "Who Is She?" that resonate with some trans people who are in the middle of transitioning. (On the level of the show's plot, this song is about Horse forgetting her Rider's face after being stuck in Centaurworld for a while, the same way that memory decays a few years after your loved ones died, if you don't have photos of them. But the writer said that this song was also meant to be about Horse losing connection with herself.)
      Help me, I think I'm far too gone
      And my reflection has become an unfamiliar someone
      So close, but I think I'm stuck in place
      I don't deserve you now that I forgot your face
  • Danny Fenton from Danny Phantom is scared and confused when the accident turns him half-ghost and spends most of the series trying to keep the truth from getting out. Only his friends know this about him and refuse to tell anyone out of not wanting to be a freak. This is especially the case for his parents, who are ghost hunters and possess a zealot to dissect/hunt them (and granted, most ghosts are troublemakers that Danny has to stop from terrorizing the town). When his parents do find out, they are more shocked and appalled at themselves that their son had to go to such lengths to keep this secret from them. The whole thing reads like a Coming-Out Story for a teenager who realizes that they are LGBT+, some reading him as transgender or non-binary due to his conflicting nature as half-human, half-ghost.
  • Subverted in the High School U.S.A. pilot - Marsh and his friends watch a public service film about the dangers of bullying, including talking about how students should tell teachers about bullies so they can "get better". Brad, however, is a Jerk Jock bully, and the episode ends with Marsh ignoring the movie as prejudiced propaganda and accepting Brad for what he is.
  • The character MT from Infinity Train began life as the literal reflection of the first book’s protagonist, Tulip, loathing having to act out everything Tulip did. Once she escapes the mirror, she decides to go her own way, shaving off her hair and adopting a much more androgynous and punk personal style. She spends most of the book focused on her asserting her own identity, running from the Reflection Enforcement that wants to destroy her for no longer reflecting Tulip, dealing with discrimination against her based on not being a Passenger (of the titular train, instead having been created on it), and raging against all the names and labels other people come up with for her. The trans/nonbinary metaphor comes to a head at the very end when she renames herself Lake.
  • Jem:
    • In the episode "The Bands Break Up", Kimber and Stormer both quit their bands to become a music duo together. They have a Duet Bonding moment that ends in them forming a Pseudo-Romantic Friendship. The episode treats their relationship similar to a lesbian relationship that neither of their friends like; Pizzazz outright sings that "[Kimber]'ll break [Stormer's] heart in two". At the end the two reunite with their bands, but the two do say that they were her best friends who taught each other about themselves, which rings closely to each other being a Closet Key.
    • "Riot's Hope" is about Riot's relationship with his parents. Since an early age, Riot has shown a knack for music and loves music. His hypermasculine army father thinks that only "women and sissies" play music, so he's gone out of his way to dissuade his son from playing, even going as far as to break his instruments and spank him. As an adult, Riot decides to follow in his dad's footsteps and join the army, but, while in Germany, he ends up leaving to join a band. His father gets upset and disowns him. The rest of the episode revolves around Jem trying to ease tensions between father and son. The difference between Riot and his dad is accentuated by his father's clean-cut and short-hair look contrasting with Riot's flamboyant dress and long '80s Hair look.
  • Some have interpreted the Muppet Babies (2018) episode "A Tale Of Two Twins" as a transgender metaphor. The episode has Scooter and Skeeter trading places with each other to take part in their friends' activities while not disappointing their friends. For Scooter, he wants to hang with Summer and Piggy at the spa, a traditionally girly activity. For Skeeter, she wants to do extreme tricycle racing with Kermit, Animal, Fozzie, and Gonzo, an activity traditionally made for boys. It helps that Scooter tends to be more sensitive and introverted while Skeeter is more outgoing and tomboyish. Likewise, when we see them switching places, a rainbow swirl appears. When everyone eventually finds out, they accept, and all 8 of them hang out at the spa.
  • Jenny's struggle with trying to be like human girls in My Life as a Teenage Robot is often cited as being analogous to Trans Tribulations. For example, the series opens with Jenny reminding her "mom" to call her by her preferred name, she often shows discomfort with her body, and episodes that center around her wearing a suit which makes her look more human come across as an attempt to "pass". Notably, the show's creator acknowledged this on Twitter, saying that while it wasn't his intent, he can definitely see the subtext in hindsight, and is glad the trans community sees themselves in Jenny and can relate to her story.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: There are plenty of actual queer characters in the extremely queer-friendly setting. It is so queer-friendly in fact that a regular Coming-Out Story would have made no sense, which is why in a Very Special Episode, Bow gets to come out to his two dads as fighting in the rebellion rather than training to follow in the family tradition of being a librarian.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016): The episode "Horn Sweet Horn" revolves around a colt who wishes he was a unicorn. This has been officially referred to as a transgender allegory, though people on the staff have clarified that it wasn't intended to be.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Owing to the show's LGBT Fanbase, certain things in the show can be interpreted as metaphors. For example, Shep turning out to be a female rover named Beep in "Solar Power Rover", and the characters accepting her as she is and using her correct name and pronouns without error throughout the rest of the show is interpreted as a metaphor for being transgender. Also, the whole concept of Jet having to hide his alien identity and being in danger if he ever reveals it can easily be seen as a metaphor for being a closeted LGBT person.
  • Recess: One episode introduces Vince's older brother Chad. The younger kids remember him being cool, but Chad is actually a geek. Vince refuses to see what is right in front of him. When he finally realizes that his brother is a geek, Vince fears that it is either hereditary or that he will "catch it".
  • The Rocko's Modern Life episode "Closet Clown", in which Ed Bighead lives a double life as a clown before being "outed" to his family and neighbors while performing at a party; the episode had tons of Does This Remind You of Anything? moments. Word of God confirms that this subtext was entirely intentional.
  • While Steven Universe has a lot of overt LGBT themes, the subtext present in "Diamond Days" arc has led many to interpret Steven's struggle for self-love and acceptance from others as a metaphor for being transgender—indeed, due to the insistence of Steven's out of touch "elder" relatives from his mother's side of treating him like he is his mother, Steven trying to appeal to them by wearing said mother's clothes, being repeatedly "misgendered" and "deadnamed" by them as an extension of this, something he is noticeably uncomfortable with, all culminating in White Diamond (effectively playing the role of a transphobic elderly relative) trying to force Steven to "accept" that he is his mother. The ultimate refute comes when she removes Steven's gem, which reforms into mother's past forms... before going to Pink Steven, i.e. his Gem half. It yells at her that "SHE'S GONE" when asked about Pink Diamond and both halves need the whole (with Steven on death's driveway without his Gem and needs Connie to carry him.) Toward the end of the episode, Steven sings a song about accepting and loving himself and how, while he doesn't need people to love him or respect him, he at least wants people to open their minds to who he truly is.
  • Young Justice (2010)
    • Ms. Martian is, well, a martian, meaning she's a Shapeshifter. She modeled her physical appearance after the main character of her favorite TV Show (named Megan) and dislikes her actual appearance because she's afraid people - even her friends - might hate her or fear her for it. It's very difficult not to read it as an allegory for Gender Dysphoria. She says when she saw Megan in the show, "something just clicked", and adds that it was what allowed her to remain happy during her otherwise sad childhood. There's a few more layers, though, as Megan is not only pretending to be human but also pretending to be Green. She's actually a White Martian. Veers into Supernaturally Validated Trans Person when Psimon enters her mind and we get to see what M'gann sees herself as.
      Psimon: Must you even lie to yourself within your own mind?
    • This is taken even further in Season 4 when M'gann visits her home planet and family. By this point, she has cycled through multiple appearances, sometimes with green skin, sometimes with white skin, sometimes more alien than human. In season 4, she has settled on more humanoid features but with pale white martian skin and eyes with black sclera. Goaded by her sister during an argument, M'gann briefly shifts back into the white martian form she was born with and her mother comments that the form she took at birth does not feel telepathically honest. Instead, the partially human and partially martian form is the one that feels most genuine. The form she takes, which agrees with her mental state, is seen as her most authentic self versus her biologically-dictated appearance at birth.
    • Superboy is also an example, in his case for homosexuality. The parallel is that Conner is a genomorph, an artificial human with superpowers created by Cadmus. But he's the only one of them that can pass for a normal human, and for the longest time, Conner takes full advantage of that to blend in. However, when he's brought to a Hidden Elf Village of genomorphs who have to use illusions to appear normal and not frighten normal humans, it's pointed out to him that him doing this hurts them: He's a superhero trusted by many, and if he were to publicly acknowledge what he is, people would pay more attention to the genomorphs' plight. Ultimately, that's exactly what Conner does: He publicly announces his status as a genomorph and brings attention to their cause, on live television. This is not unlike a celebrity coming out as LGBT. The comparison is only helped by the fact that he has two male genetic sources (i.e. two dads), and Supes' reaction to him at first was That Thing Is Not My Child!