A couple has a baby that's another sex from the one they wanted or needed. For whatever reason, they decide that rather than keep trying, they're going to raise the existing child as if the child were the desired gender. Very often applied to young girls being raised as boys because their families needed an heir.
Once the kid is a little older, this usually leads to conflict between the child and the parents and/or inner conflict for the child, who has to weigh the desire to be themselves against their desire to please their parents (or keep their inheritance or what have you). In a few cases, though, the child turns out to identify just fine with the gender they were raised to be. When the child's gender identity does match their sex, they may still retain some Wholesome Crossdresser tendencies.
Can result in a lot of Angst if the child suppresses their desire to be themselves (until it can't be suppressed anymore, like when the child begins to show prominent secondary sexual characteristics, or when the child begins to love someone of another sex), or when the child rebels against the parent's desire and the parent simply can't accept the child for who they are.
One possible idea is that the character was raised as the gender they were assigned at birth, and came to identify as another gender but is forced to continue living as their assigned one. However, discussing whether or not a character is trans has been known to cause many an Internet Backdraft, so unless there is basis in canon, let's not get too deep into the subject.
Compare and contrast Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child.
Beware of inherent spoilers in the examples.
Girls Raised as Boys
- Akito Sohma in Fruits Basket. Due to a complicated sort of reverse-Oedipal power struggle, her mother Ren Sohma is to blame for it. She was always aware of her true gender, but other than that, only some of the old family servants and the oldest Zodiac members (Ayame, Hatori, Shigure and Kureno) know about it until she goes through a HeelFace Turn and then willingly reveals herself as the girl she is, via showing up in a very feminine kimono instead of the manly ''yukata'' robes she usually wears. It's probably the main reason why she hates her mother so much.
- Tsukasa Shuro in Ayashi no Ceres, according to the tie-in novel focusing on her backstory, didn't even realize she was a girl until she was about 8 years old. She was raised as a boy to protect her from the curse of the Hagoromo, since she's one of the Celestial Maidens; her parents, and specially her mother, feared that she would take her Hagoromo and run away from them. As an adult, she's Bifauxnen Idol Singer.
- Lady Oscar in Rose of Versailles, raised by her father as such due to the lack of a son to continue the family's military tradition. By the time she meets Andre at age 7, she already knows she is a girl. By the time Oscar joins the military at age 14, most people can tell she is female.
- Gintama's Kyuubei was raised as a boy so that they could succeed their family's clan. They eventually reveal they don't consider themselves male or female.
- Princess Sapphire from The Princess Knight - again raised as a boy due to a law that only male heirs could rule, and further complicated by the fact that she had the "hearts" of both a boy and girl due to a mistake in Heaven.
- Genki Saotome in Getter Robo Armaggedon. (And only in this particular continuity, one might add.) When we meet her as an adult, she has grown into the very tomboyish Action Girl Kei Kuruma. Brilliant plot twist, or an Ass Pull for the ages? Who knows.
- Chiyomaru/Kiyone in Genzo. Princess Kiku is a variation: while her gender wasn't concealed at all, her father raised her like a boy and a warrior in order to defeat Yasuke and the Yamiganemaru.
- Shintarou Inoue in Sumomomo Momomo, and it's not entirely clear if this happened because the head of the clans that the Inoue clan were aligned with had to be male to fit into an Arranged Marriage, if it's because Shintarou's dad is an Unknown Rival to the main character's dad, and Shintarou's dad wants revenge by proxy, or if it's because the character's dad is just a bit crazy.
- Julius from Orpheus no Mado, by Riyoko Ikeda from Rose of Versailles. She's a girl forcibly raised as a boy by her Big, Screwed-Up Family as a condition to be considered as a worthy inheritor. Julius desperately wants to live her life as she sees fit, though, and both her hate for her cruel relatives and her love for her friends and her much abused mom drives her to a massively tragic life.
- Kugayama in Beelzebub. This is because only males were allowed to inherit the family fortune, and therefore she was raised as a male. However, when she ended up falling in love with her best friend, Himekawa, her feminine desires ended up conflicting with her masculine upbringing, and caused her a great deal of emotional turmoil. To remedy this, her grandfather made an Arranged Marriage between the two for when they were older, so that she could freely be female. However, she never had the guts to tell Himekawa about it or her true gender. Years later, after she betrayed years before in spite of still being in love with him, the truth finally comes out and Himekawa still has no idea how to react to all this.
- Juliet Fiamatta Asto Capulet from Romeo X Juliet. She's self-identified as a girl since birth, but has been presented as a boy to everyone outside her closest confidantes since the other members of her family were murdered when she was just two years old; it is common knowledge that the Sole Survivor of the massacre was a girl, so under the diguise of a boy named Odin, Juliet arouses less suspicion. When she learns her true identity as a Capulet on her Dangerous 16th Birthday, she presents as a boy to those outside her closest social circle, but begins wearing dresses in private; when her true gender is publically revealed (which includes a scene in which Juliet is "presented" to the Big Bad while wearing her hair down and a simple dress), she switches her cross-dressing for a tomboyish Skirt over Slacks look, occasionally complemented by a Tomboyish Ponytail.
- Urusei Yatsura has Ryuunosuke Fujinami. Ryuunosuke's dad wanted a boy to carry on his family sea-side shop and decided to raise his only daughter as one. Ryuunosuke knows she's a girl and wants to be more girly, but fails due to her father's meddling.
Ryuunosuke: "I AM A WOMAN!"
- Suggested to be the case for Tsukasa in .hack//SIGN. Throughout the series, she acts like a boy and plays the game using a male avatar... in fact, due to her circumstances in the game, she actually doesn't remember that she's actually a girl. Only near the end does the audience learn that her abusive father apparently raised her as a boy, for unspecified reasons. One flashback scene shows her attempting to shoplift a bra, and her father screaming and beating her over it. By the end of the series she's regained her memory, but doesn't start acting noticeably more feminine.
- Seishirou Tsugumi from Nisekoi was raised as a boy because Claude, her guardian, couldn't tell that she was a girl. She just sorta went along with it because she didn't particularly care. Somehow, despite her now being a teenager with a very obviously female figure, Claude still thinks she's a boy.
- When Rindou Ranmaru shows up in Binbogami Ga, people specifically bring up this trope (the very title of the chapter/episode is "Is This That So-Called Girl-Raised-As-A-Boy Pattern?"). It's actually not quite the same thing — Ranmaru has never been told she is a boy, just forced to live like one.
- Ninja High School: Sammi was forced to pretend to be a boy, by her father, for the sake of not losing an office bet. It worked 'til she reached puberty, which is when he sent her to live with her uncle to keep anyone from finding out her true gender.
- Gold Digger: Her counterpart, Brittany, was also raised as a boy. In her case, it was due to a curse that can only be lifted by a kiss from the boy she loves.
- Genma's Daughter has Ranma going through this, justified by the fact that Genma made a drunken deal with Happosai to provide an heir. Ranma never realized the truth until Nodoka finally catches up to him, searching for her daughter, Ranko, who disappeared over ten years before.
- In the Daily Life with Monster Girl fanfic Daily Odd Life with Monster Girls , Princess Kishimura of Igneous has been raised as a boy since she was born in order to prevent her Evil Uncle from inheriting the throne - women are not permitted to inherit, and remarriage is frowned upon, so her father couldn't simply get married again after her mother died. She's eventually exposed, but luckily much of the populace stands with her, and her uncle is exposed as a traitor, so the laws are reworked in order to allow women to inherit.
- Violeta, the middle daughter in the Spanish film Belle Epoque. Her mother raised her to be a boy and she became a Lesbian.
- Christina in Queen Christina. Her father King Gustavus Adolphus lacking a male heir, she is raised as a boy, dressing in men's clothes and acting in an assertive, masculine manner.
- The William Castle film Homicidal features Emily, who was raised as a boy named Warren because her father wanted an heir, but the masquerade eventually warps her mind, turning her into a murderer.
- Four Flies on Grey Velvet: The killer is one of Argento's most tortured ones as she was beaten and mistreated by her father for being a girl and for not acting like a boy. She kept her sex identity intact, but sadly not her sanity. He only managed to make her hate him to pieces. She was so obsessed with revenge against her abusive father that she married Roberto solely because he looked like him and wanted to finally take out her vengeful fantasies.
- In the Land of Oz series, Princess Ozma was magically disguised as a boy for most of her childhood. Even she didn't know the truth. She seemed to adjust to being a girl very easily, however.
- One of the stories from Arabian Nights had a groom reveal to the bride on their wedding night that he was actually a woman raised as a man due to her father putting pressure on her mother for a son.
- Tamir (a.k.a. Prince Tobin) from Lynn Flewelling's Tamir Triad was magically transformed into a boy at birth (long story short, the people currently in power required a male heir, but certain groups wanted a return to the country's old matriarchal ways). She didn't know she was a girl until puberty hit and weakened the spell, and had some awkwardness adjusting to being female later.
- In The Metamorphoses, Iphis's mother raises her daughter as a boy on divine orders to avoid exposing her at birth. Iphis falls in love with another girl named Ianthe, so the goddess Isis turned Iphis into a man and the two got married.
- Features in Mark Twain's A Medieval Romance.
- Kellen in The Dream-Maker's Magic was raised as a boy by her mother, who was convinced she had actually given birth to a boy and couldn't handle having a daughter instead. Kellen started occasionally dressing as a woman around the time she hit puberty. When she left to go to Wodenderry, she switched back to pretending to be a man for her own safety, but was eventually forced to admit the truth to her friends. It turned out her mother really had given birth to a boy, and the babies were Switched at Birth.
- In Celeste by V. C. Andrews, Celeste is raised as a girl for the first few years, but after her twin brother dies her mother makes her over as a Replacement Goldfish.
- The narrator, Frank, in The Wasp Factory as it turns out her father wanted to experiment and see if it would work.
- Viscount Leos von Liebowitz of Nuln, in the Kim Newman novel Beasts in Velvet. Spoilered as it's a murder mystery, the relevant character is raised as a boy because his elder sister, Countess-to-be Emmanuelle von Liebowitz declared she didn't want a sister taking the attention from her. He was repeatedly beaten if he showed any signs of femininity, including an awareness that he had girl-parts. As a result, he became a serial killer, targeting whores, while wearing his sister's green velvet cloak and dress. The truth of his gender was only discovered after his death.
- Split Heirs, a comic fantasy novel by Lawrence Watt-Evans and Esther Friesner, tells the story of a queen who gives birth to triplets, two boys and a girl. However, her husband's people have the belief that multiple births stem from infidelity, so she asks her loyal retainer to take away the daughter and youngest son to be raised elsewhere, so the king would never find out about the triplets' birth. Alas, the retainer messes up, and take the two boys instead. By the time the queen discovers the mistake, it is too late, and she is forced to raise her daughter as a prince, and heir to the throne.
- Starless by Jacqueline Carey features Khai, the Shadow (twin soul, essentially) to Princess Zariya. Khai was born female but as per the regulations of being a Shadow, had to be raised by male warriors. Khai doesn't find out that he was born a she until there's a change in management. This turns out to be convenient once Khai joins Zariya so they can stay in the same location in a way they would not have been if Khai had a penis. Khai does go back and forth with regards to gender presentation as they please as time goes on.
- Elly May in The Beverly Hillbillies was raised as a boy by Jed after her mother died, leaving her no maternal influence. As Jed himself says, by the time Granny moved in with them she had already become too boyish to be made ladylike, causing them a fair amount of headache whenever they attempt to get her to settle down.
- How I Met Your Mother: Robin Scherbatsky was raised as a boy by her father, until he caught her kissing a boy. Currently, she still has some boyish tendencies and a lingering desire to please her father whenever he appears in her life, and his constant dismissal of her is a Running Gag.
- In Arrow, Shado mentions she learned to fight from her father, because "he wanted a boy." Slade comments, "Well, he got one."
- Yang Seon from Scholar Who Walks the Night is a strange example of this trope; she was raised, dressed and acted like a boy after an accident when she was little caused a monk to advise the family to do so to prevent further misfortune, however, she still thinks of herself as a woman, as do her relatives.
- Queen of Girls of the Wild's was raised this way for much of her life, as her parents were major figures in the financial world. She didn't even know she was female until age 5. When she was 9 her brother was born and thus she was allowed to live as a girl.
- Saber aka King Arthur from Fate/stay night is a standard "needed a male heir" example. Her kingdom needed a ruler who could lead the military in battle and didn't show any weakness. According to her, she he never thought of herself as a woman even once.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies, this turns out to be the case with Robin Newman. Why exactly her parents did this is left uncertain, but she is pretty happy when Athena reveals her secret to the court, allowing her to openly live as a girl.
- Afghan girls raised as boys are referred as "Bacha Posh", which means "dressed like a boy". In Afghanistan, where a mother of a newborn girl was considered as a disgrace for not being able to bring a heir to the world, this practice was to give the girls a higher survival rate. When the Bacha Posh hits puberty, they are required to revert back to a Proper Lady.
- Famous french spy, diplomat and solider Chevalier d'Éon claimed later in life to have been raised as a boy because her father could only inherit from his in-laws if he had a son. French government accepted this claim, but the truth was probably different.
- Famous female pirate Mary Read was raised as a boy under her late brother's name "Mark", in order to both cover up her illegitimate status and for her mother to continue receiving financial support from her mother-in-law.
Boys Raised as Girls
- North Italy from Axis Powers Hetalia was raised as a girl by Austria and Hungary. Though it's implied that everyone but Austria (and the Holy Roman Empire, but that's another bag of cats) knew that Nitaly was a boy and not a girl, simply going along with his crossdressing until Italy reached physical puberty and started openly presenting himself as a male.
- Oddly, North Italy's older brother South Italy/Romano also dressed up as a girl when living with Spain, but everyone treated him as a boy from the beginning. Likely because he was much more brash and kinda bratty.
- Izumo Kunisaki in Kunisaki Izumo no Jijou. Technically, he was raised to perform female roles at kabuki.
- Mei no Naisho: Haruna Mei's mother raised him as a girl. Mai only learned the truth when "her" classmates saw his penis. Mei believed it'd eventually fall.
- An obscure manga called Princess Prince had Prince Lawrence raised as a girl named Lori, due to a prophecy that if one of the twin sons born to the king was raised as a 'child of the moon' (read: a girl), there would be prosperity in the kingdom. (It doesn't help that of the two, he resembles his dead mother more.) Hilarity Ensues as Lawrence has a crush on a girl, is constantly hit on by men, and wonders what will happen when he hits puberty. His brother, Matthew, while sympathetic to his situation, gets in some brotherly teasing about Lawrence's crush and then finds himself in a Dude Looks Like a Lady situation in which a thief thinks the twins are both female and Matthew is the one disguising their gender.
- In the manhwa Angel Diary, Ee-Jung is raised as a girl because he is the Red Phoenix.
- According to side materials, this seems to have been the case of Kazuto "Towa" Sakuma in Sensual Phrase.
- Nagisa Shiowatari from Urusei Yatsura. His dad raised him as a girl just because he wanted to fulfil his promise to have a daughter to marry Fujinami's son (and apparently never thought about how to keep said son from protesting that his "bride" was actually another guy). Nagisa knows he's a boy and identifies as such but he just prefers to act like a girl, coming off as a Creepy Crossdresser (especially given he's a "living ghost" and so can do stuff like walk through walls).
- First-born sons of the Higashikata family in part 8 of Jojos Bizarre Adventure are raised in girls' clothing until a certain age due to a superstition to ward off evil spirits. The tradition started because firstborn sons of the Higashikatas always die to an unknown disease. Currently this is done with Tsurugi Higashikata.
- Juuzou Suzuya from Tokyo Ghoul is a particular disturbing example. Raised as a Human Pet by a sadistic Ghoul, she regularly dressed him up as a girl and molested him. When she began worrying that puberty would ruin his angelic looks, she castrated him so that he would "remain a girl" forever. It was only after CCG rescued him that he started living as a boy again, though his looks and unconventional gender expression continue to confuse others when they first meet him.
- Nagisa Shiota from Assassination Classroom, since his abusive mother Hiromi never wanted a son, so she raised him as a girl.
- In Finder, Lynne was raised as a girl because her mother was from the Llaverac clan, where everyone, regardless of functional gender, has breasts and dresses and acts female. Lynne grew up to be an odd mixture.
- Lord Fanny in The Invisibles is born as a boy into a family of powerful female witches, and s/he is raised as a girl so that s/he can continue the family tradition (which is forbidden to men). Her/his grandmother even chastises her/his father for producing a male child instead of the preferred female one. Fanny quite easily accepts the gender she is given and grows up to be a transgender woman with magical powers.
- Insidious: One of the featured ghosts in the first film the Old Lady, turns out to be a man named Parker Crane in the second film, who was horribly abused as a child by his mother into behaving like a girl and suffered because of her issues.
- An infamous example in the horror film Sleepaway Camp. Angela is revealed to be a boy raised as a girl by an obsessive aunt who already has a son and "another one simply would not do".
- Calliope/Cal, the central character of Middlesex, although being genetically male, is born with a condition that makes him look externally female. As neither the parents nor family doctor realized it until the child hit puberty, Callie was raised as a girl. Eventually, upon discovering his true nature he comes to terms with his male identity. Note that although Cal's parents specifically intended to have a baby girl (their first child was a boy), they obviously didn't intend to force her to fake her gender identity.
- In Perfect Peace by Daniel Black, the mother of a black Southern family raises her youngest son as a girl. She manages to get away with this for 7 years because she makes sure to be the only one who changes her clothes, helps her in the bathroom etc.
- Lila in the book Flavor of the Month by Olivia Goldsmith. Lila was already born with a testicle issue and a gay dad who wasn't going to be able to handle having a son, so her crazy mom Theresa got her remaining testicle removed and gave Lila hormones and breast surgery. It's unclear as to whether or not Lila was a transgender personality, but she pretty much hates both genders equally, and gay men especially. When she has sex with her fiance, well...she manages successfully to hide something.
- The Counterfeit Marquise is a story about a woman whose husband died in battle raising her son as a girl so he won't have to join the army. She doesn't tell "Marianne" he is actually a boy until he is engaged to be married. And even then, he doesn't tell his husband until after the wedding. Everything turns out better than expected when Marianne's husband reveals he is a cross-dressing woman
- The True Life episode "I'm Living As Someone I'm Not" had a woman who was biologically a man. She was raised by her mother as a girl after her mother saw that she was transgender around the age of 13. This counts as this trope because she did not really see herself as transgender, just as a woman and in fact had lived as a woman so long that she had even perfected techniques so that it looked like she had breasts, and it was impossible to tell that she was biologically a man (she just looked like a skinny tall woman). The story follows her trying to come out of the closet, so to speak.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
- An episode featured a pair of fraternal twins. However, you find out later that they were born identical, and the sister was actually a boy who was given a sex change after a botched circumcision. This was Ripped from the Headlines, oddly enough.
- Ripped again, following Reimer's story (see the Real Life section) more closely, on the Fox tv series Mental. In the episode "House of Mirrors" the key to a patient-of-the-week's self-immolation attempt lay in his disgust for his female body.
- On 30 Rock, it's mentioned as a Noodle Incident that Josh was raised as a girl for 10 years.
- In the Brazilian soap opera 'Chocolate com Pimenta' ("Chocolate with Pepper", known in English as "Pepper Chocolate"), there was a woman who suffered from a serious illness and promised to St. Bernardette she'd adopt a girl if she was cured. A maid working for the woman had a son and desired for him a better life so she passed the boy as a girl with no family and claimed the "girl's" name to be Bernardette. Not caring about her foster child more than required to keep good on her promise, she spent years unknowingly raising a boy until the truth came out and Bernardette renamed himself "Bernardo". The woman then started to think everything bad that happened to her was divine punishment for not keeping her promise.
- The singer in The Who's song "I'm a Boy":
I'm a boy, I'm a boy, but my ma won't admit it; I'm a boy, I'm a boy, but if I say I am, I get it.
- Daisy in the Christopher Durang play Baby with the Bathwater.
- Bridget from Guilty Gear was raised as a girl because of a superstition in his village about having same gender twins. His story mode actually has him setting off to become a bounty hunter to actually prove that he wouldn't be a curse on those he loved.
- Gwyndolin of Dark Souls I was born with an affinity for the moon, despite being the child of the Lord of the Sun, and as such was raised as a female.
- Implied to be the case with Natsume of Ensemble Stars!—until an unspecified point in his youth, he was made to wear dresses and portray himself as a girl. He's highly embarrassed by his past and prefers to pretend it didn't happen... so, of course, the one other person at school that knew about it had to spread the rumor, so now everyone knows.
- The title character in Matryona's Last Night was raised as a girl by his parents, mainly because the mother wanted a daughter. She gave her son a girl's name, made him wear girls' clothing, forced him to grow his hair out, and taught him generic feminine hobbies. This led to Matryona being bullied and rejected by his classmates. When his cousin was adopted by his family, his parents were content to finally have a girl. The stress of being replaced by Sasha and being told by his parents to "go back to normal" caused him to snap and to kill his family. The True Ending subverts this by having Matryona, called Matvey, be raised as a boy in another life.
- Cassidy in The Royal Trap was born male but raised female for complicated political reasons.
- Canadian superhero Green Gables from the Spinnerette webcomic may possibly be an example. While he has not made mention of his childhood, he stated that the Green Gables persona is a matriarchal legacy in his family, leaving his origin hanging somewhere between this trope and Wholesome Crossdresser.
- In real life, David Reimer had his penis destroyed as a baby during a circumcision. John Money (a psychologist) then encouraged and oversaw David being sexually re-assigned to female and raised as such. John Money reported the case as a success, and used it as evidence that gender identity is environmental. However, it was later revealed that David had never identified as female, and began living as a male at age 15. He suffered from suicidal depression starting at 13, and eventually killed himself at 38.
- Rainer Maria Rilke's mother, in mourning after losing a baby daughter after a week of life, dressed him in dresses throughout his early childhood.
- Sporus was a slave boy who had the misfortune of resembling Nero's dead wife Poppaea. Nero had Sporus castrated, forced him to dress and act like a woman, forcibly married him, and called him Poppaea. After Nero was killed Sporus was also forced to marry Nymphidius Sabinus (the Captain of the Praetorian Guard) and then Emperor Otho. Afterwards Emperor Vitellius planned on having a gladiator rape Sporus for the entertainment of the public, so Sporus committed suicide to avoid this fate and likely to put an end to the abuse he kept suffering. Sporus was less than twenty when he died, so he would likely have still been a child when Nero first castrated him.
- Hansel and Gretel in Black Lagoon were raised to role-play whatever sick scenarios their owner created for them and as the result learned to "switch" gender at will, becoming a dual Creepy Crossdresser. It gets to the point that no one in-universe or out knows the actual genders of the duo. Are they both girls? Boys? Different genders? Rock might know, but he might also have been too squicked out by what was happening to really think about it.
- Axis Powers Hetalia has Hungary growing up living as a boy, then identifying as a female as she grew up - the trick is that, as a kid, she thought she really was a boy and thought that "we all get one when we get older anyway". Fandom opinions on Hungary's gender range from tomboy to transgender man. It's not always safe to comment on it.
- The Japanese classic Torikaebaya Monogatari has a brother and sister raised in this way. They go on to careers at court in those roles, but eventually switch to match their birth genders. The story has been adapted as a manga under the title of The Change!.
- On CSI, the Freudian Excuse of a Serial Killer is revealed to be a gender identity issue: His father raised him as a boy, his mother as a girl.
- Interesting example in an episode of Saving Hope. The team is working on gender-reassignment surgery for a transman but have to stop due to a new medical issue that they can't quite figure out. It turns out the patient was born intersex and, while the doctors advised waiting to see which gender the child identified with before performing surgery, the mom decided to make the child female. This is a huge source of guilt later when it turns out that mom made the "wrong" choice when her daughter decides she'd rather be male.
- Umineko: When They Cry has Sayo Yasuda (AKA Shannon, Kanon and Beatrice), whose original gender is unknown (and the narration and dialogues do nothing to help). Note that a large reason that no one can tell due to secondary attributes is that Sayo's body didn't develop correctly due to a severe injury received as a baby. However, the manga heavily implies that Sayo would fit in the "Boys Raised as Girls" category, and if so his/her situation would have some parallels to David Reimer's as seen above.