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Some species, mostly fish, amphibians, and invertebrates, are capable of changing sexes under certain circumstances. In fiction it is sometimes possible for other creatures, even humans in some cases, to do this as well (and often much faster).

Subtrope of Gender Bender. May involve Bizarre Alien Sexes. Usually a part of any story in which Shapeshifters Do It for a Change.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • One Piece: Emporio Ivankov ate the Horm-Horm Fruit which allows him to inject hormones from his fingertips. Its many applications include "male/female hormones" which can turn himself or any recipient into the opposite sex.
  • Ranma ½: Because of the specific Jusenkyō curse, Ranma Saotome can change between genders, turning into a girl when cold water is splashed on him, and changing back when hot water is splashed on her. One arc antagonist from later on is Prince Herb of the Musk Dynasty, who suffers from the same curse.

    Comic Books 
  • The Skrulls in the Marvel Universe can change their sex as well as appearance. In Runaways Super Skrull in training, Xavin, is engaged to Karolina for an Arranged Marriage set up by their parents as a peace keep measure between their races. Karolina isn't interested not because she isn't sold on the marriage thing, but because she's a lesbian. Xavin handily solves this by showing her his/her female form and and Karolina has no complaints.
  • One of the many magic keys from Locke & Key allows a person to do this.
  • Loki, as a shapeshifter can take any human form, male or female. Seen most notably in his own series, Loki: Agent of Asgard.
  • Apex from Avengers Arena is an interesting case. She shares her body with her brother and their body shifts gender depending on who is in control.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Kreel are able to shift their physical sex when they reach a certain age, which was how they reproduced when entire generations were born male or female in the past. Being (openly) female is illegal in the Sangtee Empire (until the rebellion lead by WW is successful) and reproduction is now done by cloning, allowing the government to control the population. To the Empire's annoyance their natural ability to shift means cloning a man can result in a female infant.
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    Fanfiction 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Jurassic Park the cloned dinosaurs were able to get around the genetic manipulations that made them all female thanks to the frog DNA used to complete their genomes.
  • In Zerophilia, a person with an extra Z chromosome will change gender after an orgasm. By having sex with another zerophiliac, he/she will be Mode Locked into the opposite gender than what he/she was before then. The movie follows a boy named Luke, who has this condition and goes by the name Luca as a girl, pretending to be his own cousin. He/she eventually gets tricked into being stuck as Luca. Fortunately, his girlfriend Michelle and her brother Max are actually the same person, so their relationship works out.
  • The Tim Daly/Sean Young film Dr. Jekyll & Ms. Hyde takes the old Jekyll-and-Hyde story to another level by making Jekyll male and Hyde female.

    Literature 
  • Alex Fierro in Magnus Chaseandthe Godsof Asgard seems to be one; at least her voice changes between boy and girl mode.
  • Virginia Woolf's Orlando more or less spontaneously turned into a woman. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's reinterpretation has that happen every few years, owing to his/her father Tiresias.
  • In C. J. Cherryh's Chanur Novels stsho are somewhat prone to "phasing" with little warning, assuming a new gender and personality.
  • In M.C.A. Hogarth's Tales of the Jokka, Jokka can change genders at two points in their life, once in the first seven years of their life and again in the second seven. Some never Turn, others Turn once, some Turn then Turn back to their original gender, and a few rare individuals have the chance to be all three sexes.
  • In F.M. Busby's The Breeds of Man geneticists searching for a cure to an infertility plague caused by an AIDS cure Gone Horribly Wrong accidentally turn some people into serial hermaphrodites that alternate between male and female monthly based on menstruation.
  • The Left Hand of Darkness has a planet where the human-descended inhabitants are asexual most of the time, except when they're in "kemmer" and become either men or women, as well as very lustful.
  • One of Neil Gaiman's short stories in the Smoke and Mirrors anthology concerns the massive paradigm shift that society undergoes when an experimental gene therapy intended to treat cancer has the unexpected side effect of performing an overnight and totally reversible Gender Bender.
  • In the Patternist series, especially in Wild Seed, the immortal healer Anyanwu is able to change her body at will, which not only includes shapeshifting into animals but also changing sex. The change is so complete, she can even sire children when in a male body, although they're only girls unless she copies the DNA of another male, in which case the resulting sons will be genetically that other man's rather than Anyanwu's. Most of the time, Anyanwu uses that ability to hide from witch hunters.
  • In The Kharkanas Trilogy, the prequel to the Malazan Book of the Fallen, it is revealed that Elder God K'rul is able to change his sex at will, and does so every other century or so whenever he feels like having a change. He also can and did become pregnant at least once. It's not too surprising as all Azathanai are shapeshifters but K'rul seems to be the only one able and/or willing to shift between sexes.
  • In Simon R. Green's Urban Fantasy works, Jacqueline Hyde is a descendant of Dr. Jekyll who used her ancestor's formula too much, periodically transforming into Mr. Hyde. Jacqueline and Hyde are deeply in love but can never meet directly.
  • Noel "Double Helix" Matthews in Wild Cards. Born intersexed, they (well, he prefers "he") gained the ability to change between fully male and fully female. This actually allows a small degree of Humanshifting, possibly by altering the precise balance of hormones. As a bonus, he can teleport, but only during the day in a male form and only at night in a female form.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A notorious convention anecdote in relation to Babylon 5 has J. Michael Straczynski responding to all the Ho Yay fan reaction to Londo and G'Kar by distributing a joke script to the actors in which G'Kar changed sex to become female, revealing that Narn are biologically capable of doing it as a response to being in an unduly one-gender environment, and promptly tried to seduce Londo, while still being played by Andreas Katsulis. The actors were apparently entirely enthusiastic about it.
  • A newly introduced mermaid-tribe from Siren are all born female, but are able to transition to male in order to reproduce by going in a specific pool.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The 21st-century version has explicitly confirmed that Time Lords sometimes change sex on regeneration, although fans had speculated about the possibility for decades and it had never been explicitly ruled out. The sex change usually comes with a gender change as well.
      • The Master, a male villain, regenerates into the Mistress (Missy, for short), making her first appearance in series 8. Despite the misogyny of her previous incarnation, Missy doesn't seem to mind this change one bit, as she goes around wearing a fancy Victorian dress, heavy makeup, and insists on being called a Time Lady instead of a Time Lord.
        Missy: Some of us can afford the upgrade.
      • The white male General regenerates into a black woman in "Hell Bent". Not only that, her dialogue indicates that all of the incarnations before the male General have been female as well.
      • The Doctor finally gets their turn in "Twice Upon a Time", as they regenerate into a woman in their thirteenth incarnation. Unlike Missy, though, she seems to go with a more androgynous look. Then again, she doesn't really seem to mind either, as her response to seeing her own reflection for the first time shows.
        The Thirteenth Doctor: [grinning] Oh, brilliant!
    • "The Hand of Fear" shows a Kastrian regenerating from female to male, and being surprised that the Doctor is surprised by it, as he should know all about regeneration.
  • The Monster of the Week in the Grimm season 4 episode "Double Date" is a member of a worm-like Wesen species that can change gender at will. It becomes clear that each gender has its own personality, but they live together symbiotically. Oddly Truth in Television, as blood flukes actually live like this.
  • Misfits: Curtis gets this as his second power, having the ability to become a female version of himself at will, who he names Melissa.
  • Mork from Mork & Mindy states that Orkans' "parts are interchangeable".
  • The Monster of the Week in The X-Files episode aptly titled "Gender Bender" is a member of an (apparently) alien humanoid species whose biological gender changes every time after they have sex.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In GURPS "Hermaphromorph", from GURPS Bio-Tech is a five-point trait that allows a character to do this.
  • Eclipse Phase has a "sex switch" BioMod that enables one to do this (and comes standard with Pleasure Pods), though the process takes a week.
  • In Munchkin, the 'Freudian Slipper' allows the user to change sex (in-game, obviously) whenever it suits them most. If they lose the slipper and they're not their (real-life) biological sex, however, the former user is at a disadvantage in their next combat as normal for Sex Change Curses.
  • In Kitsune: Of Foxes and Fools Hayaku can change genders at will, for free at the beginning of each turn and by spending one foxfire any other phase. Saski and Sareiko had a competition to see who could seduce them first, Saski impregnated Hayaku with Ai & Midori while Hayako knocked up Sareiko with Seiki.
  • Changelings in Eberron are born asexual, develop their proper gender in early puberty, and then become capable of fully shifting sexes when their powers fully mature in mid-puberty.
  • One of the tricks available for Lunars in Exalted. Their patron god-goddess-whatever-it-feels-like-today Luna does so on a regular basis, including appearing as a pregnant man on occasion.
  • Certain elves in the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons possess a power known as "Corellon's Blessing", which allows them to change their sex and gender during a long rest. This power is rare enough that the DM has to make a judgement call on whether or not an elven player character is allowed to have it (though it doesn't have any mechanical gameplay effect).
    • Kobolds in the same edition will spontaneously change sex if there's a severe imbalance in the male to female ratio of a warren as a result of casualties inflicted by monsters or adventurers. As kobolds are egg-laying reptilian humanoids who lack any sexual dimorphism, this is not something that they consider a big deal beyond the way it helps their species survive in a hostile world.
    • Succubi have been able to do this since at least the third edition of the game, for reasons that should be obvious.
    • In the Forgotten Realms setting, in older lore, the rare male clerics of Eilistraee, Goddess of Redeemed Drow, were said to need to regularly transform into women in order to maintain access to their holy magic. This lore was dropped in 3rd edition onwards for certain Unfortunate Implications.
    • Verdan, a race of Chaos-warped goblinoids originating from Acquisitions Incorporated, are known to sporadically and randomly shift genders, with the implication that every verdan does so at least once in its lifespan. As a result, the verdan culture has no innate gender-specific roles or traits.
    • Gobowins, from the Wicked Fantasy setting, are also a goblinoid race known to randomly shift genders throughout their lives. It's one of the traits that makes them Explosive Breeders.
  • The New World of Darkness:
    • Vampire: The Requiem: The Galloi bloodline can transform themselves and others into the opposite sex with a ritual Blood Bath. The effect normally wears off, but if the transformed person permanently invests some Heroic Willpower into the change, it becomes permanent.
    • Mage: The Awakening:
      • Any Mage who's trained in Life magic can temporarily transform themselves or another person into the opposite sex. A prose interlude in one Sourcebook has a mage chew one of their peers out for trying to determine magically whether they're Transgender, since it's incredibly rude to pry.
      • The Daksha Prestige Class can switch at will between male, female, and hermaphrodite versions of their original form, which they see as a manifestation of the Enlightenment Superpowers that will help them usher in a new Golden Age.
  • The Qin from Æon are small slug-like aliens who regularly switch sexes.
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    Visual Novels 
  • In the Wolf Hall entry of the Magical Diary series, Blaise is a member of a magical species who can change back and forth between male and female depending on mood.

    Webcomics 
  • Incubi and succubi have shapeshifting powers in Amber Panyko Williams' Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures universe. This includes gender changing at will, though it takes much time and practice to do well. Abel Rewanz demonstrates the boy-to-girl morphing in strip #690, and again in strip #1038, much to Daniel's chagrin.
  • The artificial lifeform Penelope from Ben Nu~nez's Just Another Web Comic was built as a sentient sex toy by Mad Scientist Eryl Keydon. Penelope can change gender and species on command, though she seems most comfortable as a female feline. See volume 2, page 32 where Penelope recites her tech specs, though be advised: this web comic is patently Unsafe For Work.
  • Alchemy the reaper from Dangerously Chloe is an Anthropomorphic Personification of Death and doesn't have a gender as such, instead appearing as "Al" (male), "Kimmy" (female), or as a classic skull-faced Grim Reaper depending upon what the soon-to-die person expects to see. Otherwise their gender depends upon how masculine or feminine they're feeling.
  • El Goonish Shive: Grace can do this easily as part of her general shapeshifting power, though she typically sticks to being female. Later in the comic, Tedd gains a magic mark that lets him alter his sex at will... which everyone notes is incredibly redundant since he had the technology to do that anyway and frequently made use of it. Not to mention all of Elliot's powers revolving around this.
  • Team RAIN: Viorel Braith is genderfluid and their Semblance allows them to shapeshift into either a male or female form. They'll often be seen doing so even within the span of a single page. Their sister Viola is unsure of which one they were born as, but Viorel doesn't really care either way.

    Web Original 
  • In the Chakona Space universe skunktaurs, a sister project to the chakats, can switch between male and female at will. Though they also have an annual cycle that forces a sex change.
  • In Metamor City people with the androgyne variation of the curse can change sex at will, though they need to spend more time as the opposite gender that they were born with. Considering that the original version of the curse was a one-way Gender Bender.
  • Whateley Universe has a few, naturally enough, with Heyoka, Reach, Fling, Jimmy T., Chimera, Pounce, and (in the Gen 2 stories) Reinforce, Bewitched, and Ping-Pong being the main examples. However, most of these cases has some degree of Blessed with Suck to them: Heyoka changes uncontrollably depending on the spirits which s/he bonds with, Jimmy T. has trouble controlling who (or what) s/he shifts into while asleep, Chimera is actually two Half-Identical Twins sharing a single body, Reach shifts on a semi-random basis every two weeks or so, Pounce has to be a Cat Girl for several hours each week or suffer painful side effects, Reinforce gets a temporary Shapeshifter Mode Lock if he shifts too many times in a rapid succession, Bewitched has drastic personality shifts when female which their male form hates, and Ping-Pong switches form uncontrollably when sexually aroused. Perhaps the one who has it worst is Fling, who changes both physically and psychologically in response to lust, becoming whomever the person s/he's nearest to most desires, which can really suck if that person wants a bimbo, or worse, is a sadist.

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