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Reincarnated as the Opposite Sex

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Yukari Kobayakawa reflects on his past life as the courtesan Yuumurasaki.

There is the belief that people's souls can reincarnate after death. Commonly, reincarnations in fiction have the characters have the exact same appearance as in their past lives. However, in some cases, the new incarnation's gender can differ from their past life.

Some cultures like the Hindu have a view on reincarnation that allows for gender to be changed during the cycle. So a man who dies could be reincarnated as a woman, and vice versa. This can be used for irony, like a Reincarnation Romance where a couple of lovers are reincarnated as the opposite genders. Or for even more fun, only one half of the couple is reincarnated as the opposite gender, leading to some awkward Incompatible Orientation or justification for If It's You, It's Okay.

Bringing Past-Life Memories into play can make things significantly hairier. When regaining a small fragment of memories, having been the opposite sex usually makes things a bit stranger, but won't be a huge deal. A character retaining all their memories from the beginning effectively overlaps with Gender Bender, which the character may bemoan or accept. Harsher still is when they've lived as one gender and then gain a full life of memories as another, which is likely to cause psyche-shaking levels of Amnesiac Dissonance.

Sub-Trope of Reincarnation.

May overlap with The Nth Doctor.

This trope is often used as a plot twist, which means beware of spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Welsper from Ah! My Goddess is a male demon who hacked into Yggdrasil and was punished afterwards by being reincarnated into a cat. He cursed himself in order to retain his memories from before reincarnation and as consequence, he's now a female cat.
  • In Betrayal Knows My Name, protagonist Sakurai Yuki is a young man in this lifetime, but his previous incarnations were female, including one that fell in love with a warrior named Zess. Now, in modern times, Zess meets his past lover's male incarnation, and angst ensues.
  • Minami Harusumi, the male protagonist of Bokura no Kiseki, is the reincarnation of a princess named Veronica.
  • In Children of the Whales, Chakuro and Kikujin are revealed to be in a reincarnation cycle where the former writes records of the world's stories and the latter preserves said records in every lifetime. While Chakuro is a guy in all incarnations, Kikujin's incarnations can vary in gender (his current one is a little boy, but a flashback to a past life shows him as a grown man and another as a young girl).
  • D.Gray-Man has a messed-up example. The Black Order started the Second Exorcist project to try and create Artificial Humans with Innocence by transplanting the brains of dead exorcists into their bodies. As a result, Alma has memories of being a woman and Kanda's lover in his past life.
  • In Genesis of Aquarion, Sirius believes himself to be the reincarnation of Apollonius, but late in the series, it's revealed Sirius is really a reincarnation of Celiane, Apollonius' lover whose soul was reborn in two halves. Her other reincarnation is Sirius' younger sister, Silvia.
  • In Karakuridouji Ultimo, Rune Kodaira is the reincarnation of a princess called Lady Gekko. In his past life, he was Emperor Kotsutsubo's fiancée and Yamato's lover.
  • NG Life features several Romans who died at Pompeii and were reincarnated as modern Japanese people. Of the three main characters, only the protagonist Keidai is the same gender as his previous life Sirix. His male best friend Loleus is now Serizawa, a cute girl with a crush on him, and his beloved wife Serena has been reborn as Yuuma, a short-tempered boy next door who's crushing on said best friend.
  • Please Save My Earth: Enju, a Human Alien scientist woman, was in love with her co-worker Gyokuran, who in turn was romantically interested in someone else. Before their deaths, Enju wished to be reborn as male so the two could be Heterosexual Life-Partners. Instead, it causes an increasing amount of Gayngst in their human lives as Issei and Jinpachi after they unlock Past-Life Memories.
  • In the manga Reincarne, three samurai named Meguru, Asahi, and Kotaro are reincarnated in modern times as high school students and reunite for the first time in their current lives, albeit with the caveat that the latter two have reincarnated as girls. While Meguru and Asahi still remember their previous selves (Asahi in particular loves acting all girly but is still pretty masculine at heart), Kotaro does not, and the series focuses on trying to reawaken her memories.
  • One story of RIN-NE is about a samurai ghost who thinks a schoolgirl is the reincarnation of a princess he was in love with. It turns out the princess' reincarnation isn't the girl, but the male PE teacher, whereupon the ghost immediately loses interest and passes on.
  • Spirit Circle covers a saga of eight reincarnations, but only one of them has all the principal cast reincarnated into a Genderbent Alternate Universe. The protagonist, a young boy named Fuuta Okeya, his female rival Kouko, and all of their friends became the opposite sex in what was supposed to be Fuuta and Kouko's sixth lives.
  • Yukarism: Yukari Kobayakawa is a famous author of Historical Fiction novels about the Edo period in Japan and he's notable for writing as if he really lived in Edo. This is because Yukari remembers his past life as the female courtesan Yuumurasaki from Edo's Yoshiwara district.

    Comic Books 
  • In Camelot 3000, King Arthur is awakened from his sleep during an alien invasion. A number of Arthur's knights have been reincarnated, sometimes into distinctly different bodies (e.g., black, Asian, hideous mutant). Sir Tristan, quite a womanizer in his former life, is reincarnated as a young woman. The appearance of Isolde (also reincarnated, but still female) complicates the matter further, although they end up in a surprisingly sweet lesbian relationship.
  • Eternals (2021): As part of the series' Soft Reboot, the Eternals were brought Back from the Dead in new bodies, with Sprite, Ajak, and Makkari being reincarnated as women. This was done to match up with the Gender Flips they'd received in Eternals. Flashbacks reveal that Ajak had also been female when she was first created millennia ago.
  • The Sandman (1989): At the conclusion of the "Season of Mists" arc, Dream offers his long-dead lover Nada several options for how to spend her afterlife. She chooses to be reborn in a mortal body; when Morpheus goes to a hospital in the waking world to say goodbye, we see she's now a male infant.
  • The Ultraverse: The main character of Mantra is a warrior employed by a wizard. He's continually reborn by having the wizard transplant his soul into a new male host whenever he died. At the start of the series, the wizard is betrayed and has only enough strength to move his most loyal warrior's soul one more time. He tells the warrior that this time it will be different. The warrior awakes to find himself in the body of a single mother. The series deals with him coping with this and having to learn magic to cope with his lack of martial abilities.
  • In The Wicked + The Divine, Lucifer is reincarnated as a girl (who generally goes by Luci and uses female pronouns). Inanna, a female Sumerian goddess, was likewise incarnated as male, though in his case, "guy is a small word". The 1831 Woden also incarnated as a woman.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Bait and Switch (STO): USS Bajor science officer Birail Riyannis is a joined Trill who is the fifth host of the Riyannis symbiont, which has been bonded to both men and women in the past. Her past lives are first described in "Tinker, Golfer, Doctor, Trill" (female to male to female to male), then in "Trill: Disjoined" she counsels Eleana Valen, a half-Trill-half-Reman, after her full Trill mother volunteers to become the host to the Odan symbiont after its prior host Kinjer is mortally wounded in a terrorist attack.
  • In the The Matrix fanfic Bringing Me to Life, two male characters, Apoc and David, are reincarnated as female.
  • Angels on Earth-27 can undergo the Rite of Rebirth, which sometimes changes their sex and appearance. Since many angels don't like the idea of changing who they are, they only undergo the ritual sporadically or in dire situations, like being near death.
  • Someone Else: Chapter 9 reveals that Carver was female in their previous life, which has caused some problems for them emotionally in their current one.
    When someone else had arrived in Thedas, they hadn’t been able to bear looking at themselves. Their intense, womanly desire for men was difficult with the fact that their vessel was a literal boy. Someone else had had to snuff out their attractions. Quickly. It had been one of many levels of wrongness in their situation that they had had to simply accept as the new normal.
    They were severely repressed.
    Their messed up situation had helped shape them into the emotionally constipated peanut that they were today.
  • The fic Strandpiel by A.A. Pessimal has a sub-plot (one of many) in which the idea of reincarnation on the Discworld is discussed. Apparently, every discarnate soul has a number, and a lottery is drawn every so often. ("It Could Be You!") A young Witch has discovered one of her discarnate Spirit Guides will be unavailable for a few decades as her Number has just come up. Interestingly, the job vacancy is in her own family and will be a male child. Bekki and her father, wizard Ponder Stibbons, discuss the implications of this and speculate if the child will then also qualify as his own great-aunt, and what actually happens when a soul, last female, returns in a male body. They agree it probably won't be an issue as these things tend to self-adjust. See link for details.
  • A Tale of Two Rulers: It's implied to be uncommon, but the Triforce bearers can reincarnate as a different gender than usual.
    • Gandondorf has the clearest Past-Life Memories of the three Triforce bearers. When he reveals himself to be an expert on pregnancy and childbirth, it comes from many lifetimes of fatherhood, plus a few of motherhood.
    • Link's current incarnation is actually Princess Rinku, Zelda's daughter. Ganondorf hasn't realized the connection yet and Zelda wants to keep it that way.
  • Triptych Continuum: Near the end of the Continuum's flagship work, Twilight Sparkle is revealed to be the reincarnation of Starswirl the Bearded. It's unclear whether this happens to anypony else: Twilight's reincarnation is the result of a curse and there is no proof that souls naturally reincarnate.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In All of Me, a dying millionairess arranges to have her soul transferred into the body of a younger woman. The procedure goes wrong, and her soul is instead transferred into the left side of her recently fired lawyer. For most of the movie, the two souls struggle to control the one body, but at one point, the lawyer is knocked out, leaving the millionairess to control his body on her own.
  • In the Disney DCOM adaptation of Avalon High, King Arthur turns out to have been reborn as female Allie, rather than as Will Wagner like everyone (including Allie herself) expected.
  • Cleo Leo: Leo dies and is resurrected as Cleo. Cleo also dies and is resurrected as Leo again.
  • In Dead Again, Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson play a German pianist and his wife in their past life (in the 1940s) and a private detective and an artist (in present day, which was the 1990s), respectively. It turns out that in their modern reincarnation, the pianist's wife reincarnated as the detective, while the pianist became the female artist.
  • Goodbye Charlie: Charles Sorel dies and comes back as a woman.
  • Ice Angel: Matt is brought back to life in a woman's body, granted in a pre-existing woman's body.
  • This is the big plot twist of Reincarnation (2005): the female protagonist discovers she's the reincarnation of the crazed professor who killed all the people in a hotel, including his own children, and then committed suicide to prove his theory about reincarnation.
  • The plot of Switch (1991) revolves around a womanizing jerk who gets murdered by several of the women he exploited and is given a chance by God to return to life to redeem himself by earning genuine love. The Devil, to make things interesting and pose a real challenge, suggests sending him back as a woman.
  • In Tale of the Mummy, the titular mummy's lover in a past life was an Egyptian princess. As part of a Red Herring, the audience is led to believe that the female archeologist is her reincarnation, but hers is actually the male detective played by Jason Scott Lee.

  • In the Aru Shah and the End of Time books, the Pandava brothers have been reincarnated in the modern day as girls. Aru's love interest Aiden also turns out to be the reincarnation of Draupadi, the Pandavas' collective wife.
  • In Because I Reincarnated as a Succubus, I'll Squeeze Out Milk, a 17-year-old boy is hit by a car and gets reincarnated as a demon of lust because of a misinterpretation of his last words and now must live his new life as a succubus. Obviously displeased at needing to have sex with men for sustenance, the Celestial Bureaucracy inform he can instead drink cow's milk. Unfortunately, cows don't exist in the world he's sent to, making him dependent on the one they give him (though it also has many strange powers to compensate).
  • In the Deverry series, all characters live many lives, though most are not aware of it. Characters usually reincarnate as the same sex, but there are exceptions:
    • In the civil war storyline, the male Branoic turns out to be one of the incarnations of Brangwen/Jill, who is female in all other incarnations we meet in the series.
    • In the final book of the series, the male Loddlaen is reborn as the female Dari.
  • A Dog's Purpose is about several lives of the soul of one dog that is continually reincarnated, most of the time as male dogs but one as a female German Shepherd called Ellie who becomes a search and rescue police dog and another as a female Poodle Mix named Molly.
  • In The Dollmaker, Stephen is reincarnated into an artificial female body, and in doing so, all of his flaws are stripped away. That's the happy ending.
  • The (very) dark-fantasy short story "Give Her Hell" by Donald Wollheim features a main character who is an all-around nasty sort: he defrauded his business partner, brutally abused his wife and daughter, then made a Deal with the Devil to escape criminal prosecution and get a second life after his current one ends. Years later, as he's dying, the Devil returns and tells him of a few conditions that weren't mentioned at the time of the original deal, all of which add up to one inescapable fact: he's going to be reborn as his own daughter.
  • In Hardwired, the rich elite often transfer their consciousness to a younger body to extend their lives. The book introduces one who used to be an elderly man but got himself transferred to a young, female body to live his sexual fantasies of submission and vulnerability. S/He gets what s/he asked for and more when Sarah, one of the protagonists, seduces and then murders him/her.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!: Julia, a noblewoman from the demon kingdom, had her soul carried across worlds after her death to be reincarnated into Yuuri, the male protagonist of the series. He doesn't actually remember anything about his life as Julia, and for the most part, they're treated as different people, except for a few people who were especially close to Julia and have strange feelings about the situation.
  • Lord of Light:
    • The Masters of Karma regularly reincarnate ordinary individuals in bodies whose sex differs from the individual's gender, especially if they want to use it as a punishment. Those who have ascended to the Heavenly City, however, get to choose their sex with each new body; when he first confronts Sam and is forced to answer Sam's questions about the gods while sinking into quicksand, Yama mentions that the current Goddess of Dance at the time had previously been a God of War.
    • Helba, the Monarch of Thieves, alternates sex with each incarnation. When Sam approaches her to steal his belt back from the museum of the gods, she initially refuses, stating that she doesn't perform thefts when female.
  • Many characters in The Memory Wars remember past lives, and several have explicitly lived some lives as genders other than their current one. In Locked Within, one of Nathan's key memories is of his life as Katherine O'Reilly, a renowned monster-hunter whose lover was hanged, having been framed for murder.
  • Reborn as the Hero's Daughter! Time to Become the Hero Once More!: The main character Reid, one of the six great heroes of legend, was a male before being killed in the line of duty and wakes up as the baby girl of two former teammates. He also switches species, going from a Horned Humanoid to a plain old human. This is mostly to explain why he is Delicate and Sickly in his new life, but pursues being a hero again regardless.
  • Reborn to Master the Blade starts with the Hero-King Inglis on his deathbed and a goddess grants him a reincarnation wish for his heroism. As he regrets never truly becoming the best swordsman in the world due to his duties as king, he wishes to live his next life as someone who can focus on mastering their sword skills for their own sake rather than having to be a hero. He is reincarnated as the daughter of the Captain of the Knights decades in the future.
  • The Reincarnated Vampire Just Wants To Enjoy Her New Life has the main character Scarlet start out as a male disembodied spirit and ends up reincarnating as a female vampire.
  • In Suzanne Weyn's Reincarnation, the two lovers who reincarnate throughout the centuries don't typically change their genders, but in their Civil War-era lifetime, the usually-female soul is a man while the usually-male soul is a woman.
  • The Saga of Tanya the Evil: The protagonist Tanya was a Japanese man in her previous life and was reincarnated as a girl in an Alternate Universe with all of her memories intact. For the most part, she doesn't let this bother her, though she doesn't like wearing girly dresses and finds the prospect of sex as a woman deeply disgusting.
  • In So I'm a Spider, So What?, Katia was previously a Japanese schoolboy in her past life, and still retains her memories of it along with the rest of her reincarnated classmates — all of whom were reborn with the same genders they still had originally. It's implied that the being responsible for the reincarnation was aware of her previous self's crush on his male best friend, which is the reason why she was reborn as a girl. While still acting very boyish when with her friends, Katia has become very feminine in her own right and does learn to identify as a girl after a spell causes the final remnants of her original self to be erased.
  • The Stormlight Archive: When the Fused are reincarnated through the Everstorm, their souls take over any willing parshendi bodies available. Lady Leshwi's latest body was a man's; this goes largely unacknowledged, aside from Leshwi keeping her face meticulously clean-shaven.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime has a variation. The protagonist was a salaryman who died and was reincarnated as a slime named Rimuru who then assimilates a human woman. As a result, Rimuru's human form has No Biological Sex, but looks like a young girl.
  • This Is Screwed Up, but I Was Reincarnated as a GIRL in Another World!: It's right there in the title. Protagonist Ren is an orphan girl in an RPG Mechanics 'Verse, who in her previous life was a male thirty-something engineer.
  • The Wheel of Time: As a favored servant of the Dark One, Balthamel is transmigrated into a new body soon after his death. A woman's body happens to be what's available. Though initially angry, she takes to her new identity with gusto, but retains her access to male-exclusive magic. However, the setting's natural Reincarnation avoids this trope.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the finale of Alma Gêmea, Serena and Rafael die, but their souls go to a spiritual plane that looks like a grotto. Their souls begin to change shape to show some of their previous incarnations, including a pair of African male slaves and a duo of female nuns.
  • Doctor Who: Time Lords are capable of regenerating across gender, which comes up several times throughout the Revival series:
    • In "The Doctor's Wife", the Doctor recounts an anecdote about his old friend the Corsair, a renegade Time Lord who frequently shifted between male and female forms with each incarnation.
    • Famously done, and Played for Laughs in the Comic Relief special; "The Curse of Fatal Death", with Rowan Atkinson regenerating through several other actors before ending as Joanna Lumley.
    • At the end of "Dark Water", the Doctor learns that the Master has regenerated into a female incarnation, now going by Missy. She remains in this form until her next (offscreen) regeneration, returning to a male form during the Thirteenth Doctor's era.
    • In "Hell Bent", the General regenerates into a woman after being wounded by the Doctor. Her following dialogue implies that most of her other incarnations were female as well.
    • At the end of "Twice Upon a Time", the male Twelfth Doctor regenerates into the female Thirteenth Doctor, the first female depiction seen on-screen. She then regenerates back into a male form at the end of "The Power of the Doctor". In "Fugitive of the Judoon", she learns that she previously had another female incarnation in the form of the Fugitive Doctor.
    • In the 2018 novelization of "Rose", Clive shows Rose photos of the Doctor's various incarnations, including ones from well into the Time Lord's future. Two of these are a bald Black woman and an androgynous child in a wheelchair (of note is that the TV version of "Rose" was the debut story for the male Ninth Doctor).
  • Goodbye Charlie: In the series' pilot, Charlie Sorel dies and comes back as a woman.
  • Star Trek: Trills are humanoids that can bond with worm-like symbionts with which they share their home planet. The symbionts can recall the memories of their past hosts and allow their current host to do so as well, but unlike their hosts are genderless which leads to the hosts remembering multiple past lives as all genders.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the Trills' debut episode "The Host", Dr. Crusher develops feelings for a male Trill ambassador, Odan, who is then killed and has the symbiont temporarily implanted into Commander Riker until another Trill becomes available. The symbiont is then transferred into a female host, causing enough confusion between Odan and Crusher to end their relationship.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Main cast member Jadzia Dax, a woman, is the eighth Trill to host the Dax symbiont and has been both male and female in past lives.
      • Dax's prior host, Curzon, was a Federation ambassador and Casanova whom Captain Sisko knew quite well as a younger officer.
      • The complicated relationship of Trills to gender and sex is highlighted in "Rejoined", when Jadzia works with Lenara Kahn, another joined Trill. Dax's earlier male host Torias was married to an earlier Kahn host, Nilani, and their Old Flame relationship quickly complicates the episode's plot: Trill culture discourages "reassociation", i.e. resumption of romantic relationships between symbionts in new hosts. That Lenara is female was a deliberate choice by the production team and made this episode extremely well-regarded among Star Trek's LGBT Fanbase.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: When Xena and Gabrielle go to India, Gabrielle discovers that in her past life she was a man who led an army against Alti. Another episode had Xena and Joxer reincarnated in the present day as each other's doppelgangers.



    Video Games 
  • A Dance with Rogues: The notorious philanderer (and potential rapist) Christiano Arniman, with whom the Princess has to work early in Part 1, returns in Part 2 after dying off-screen and being brought back in an undead succubus (i.e. female) body, as karmic payback for his treatment of women in life.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: The Dotharl Clan in the Azim Steppe that you encounter for the first time in the expansion Stormblood are a Proud Warrior Race who believe in reincarnation and therefore both have no fear of death as well as very equal gender roles — everyone is expected to be a warrior — as anyone can reincarnate as the opposite sex, they take the name of who they were believed to be in the past life too so names aren't gendered either. Their leader Sadu mentions she's lived past lives as both men and women before.
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters: At the beginning of the game, the player chooses the gender of Silent Protagonist, Revya. The protagonist was originally the son of King Median before dying and being given the option to be male or female in their next life. Canonically, Revya is female due to her appearance in Disgaea 3 and brief mention by Gig in Disgaea 4.

  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Faeries and creatures of the Forest can choose to die and be reincarnated as human child students in the Court. While faeries are always female, and always reincarnate in female human bodies, as a balancing act, any non-faery creature that undergoes the process will always be male, regardless of the original gender.
  • In Section P, the Blue Knight was a man back in their previous life, but reincarnated in the body of their own modern female descendant.
  • See You in My 19th Life:
    • Ji-eum was a man in some of her previous lives, such as her 17th life as the Stage Magician Jung-ho Kim.
    • Min-ki was a woman in the life Jie-um previously met him in and in his first life.
    • Ji-eum tells Do-yun that not only were they married in her first life, she was the husband, which unnerves him. It turns out that Ji-eum was a woman in that life, but Do-yun was actually her twin sister.

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: The faith of the Luxon reincarnates its consecuted members without regard for sex or species. Queen Leylas Kryn and her partner Quana are known to have maintained their Reincarnation Romance across multiple gender permutations.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: One of Finn's past lives was a woman named Shoko.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: There have been male and female incarnations of the Avatar. Aang, the male protagonist of the first series, is reincarnated from Avatar Kyoshi, a female Earthbender. He later reincarnates into a girl named Korra in the sequel The Legend of Korra.
  • Family Guy: Played for Laughs in one episode. Death, who is referred to as male, dies in a car crash and is informed by Super Death that he would reincarnate as a Chinese baby. Said reincarnation doesn't last and he is back as Death due to reincarnating as a girl.
  • Steven Universe: The male title character's unique relationship with his mother (a feminine but genderless alien) has elements of reincarnation, as she effectively gave up her life energy and power gem to him to give him life. He is also able to access certain memories and devices of hers. However, it is made clear that even if Steven can be considered a reincarnation, Death of Personality applies as he and Rose are clearly different people.


Video Example(s):


The Hero-King Inglis is reborn

The Hero-King Inglis had only one regret in life, never truly mastering the sword, so when granted a dying wish he asks to be reborn as someone who can do just that... however, this reincarnation comes with a surprise.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / ReincarnatedAsTheOppositeSex

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