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Shapeshifters Do It for a Change

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"As the saying goes: there’s homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, and Shifter sexuality."
"Sara's Little Purple Book"[1], Whateley Universe

This trope is for the confused sexuality of shapeshifters and the Power Perversion Potential thereof. As many shapeshifters can change sex willingly, they may jump the gender barrier to accommodate a lover, or just for a change of pace. They may even be able to shift to a form which is completely sexless, or has facets of both sexes. Because of this, it's somewhat common for shapeshifters to be willing to get it on with either sex, especially if their sexuality is tied to their current sex.


Some people might question what the normal concepts of gender and sexuality even mean to a shapeshifter. Others just find the idea that the cute girl they're flirting with is sometimes a guy offputting.

See also Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The shapeshifting vampire lord Alucard in Hellsing spent at least some time during World War II as a girl. He also flirts quite openly with Queen Elizabeth II while waxing nostalgic about "old times". She would have been an 18-year-old princess around that time. Do the math.
  • Played with in Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars: The Sailor Starlights change between male civilian forms and female guardian forms. Seiya can be quite aggressively flirtatious with Usagi in the former, but not the latter. However, it's vaguely implied physical sex isn't an obstacle on either side (Usagi just wants to remain faithful to Mamoru), the show just avoids showing any romantic tension between the two when both are female. (Conversely, the Starlights in the manga were always female but Seiya is clearly attracted to Usagi.)
  • In a slight twist, characters from Simoun are all originally female and able to choose their sex during a ceremony that marks them as adults. This of course means that one person in a relationship will give up being female to raise a family with their lover, with a few noteworthy exceptions, including one where both wound up male for various reasons, but eventually wound up together anyway.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Marvel Universe, Xavin of Runaways, who is technically male, takes on a female form for the sake of their lesbian fiancée. They now have a female Shapeshifter Default Form. The Human form, their Skrull form is usually male. The characters are confused too, including Xavin.
  • Mystique, also of Marvel, is made of this trope. Although not as much as Chris Claremont wanted; she was meant to be Nightcrawler's father, not his mother. Just to fuck with genetics some more in true X-Men style. Y-chromosome? She shapeshifted her chromosomes, because she's just that badass.
    • Slightly averted when she had to avoid a hug and kiss from Contessa de la Fontaine (Nick Fury's lover) while posing as Fury. Mystique had precisely copied his fingerprints, voice print, and retinal patterns to get past security, but if the Contessa hugged her, she would quickly notice that "Fury" was skin and bones, since Mystique didn't have enough body mass to duplicate all his muscles, and her abilities don't allow her to create or assimilate extra tissue (except when they do).
  • Averted by Hulkling of the Young Avengers. Though he could presumably become a girl if he wanted to, he never has, and his boyfriend probably wouldn't like it if he did. Interestingly, this wasn't always going to be the case. Hulkling was originally going to be a girl who posed as a man to fight crime, causing Wiccan to question his sexuality. Then creator Allen Heinberg began to have second thoughts and asked for permission to make the couple unambiguously gay.
  • Played with in Skrull Kill Krew: Ryder and Catwalk once had sex while shapeshifted into each others Default Forms.
  • Electro of Spider-Man fame once had a shapeshifting girlfriend. He would apparently ask her to turn into Spider-Man during sex.
  • The Defenders had a short-lived member called Cloud who had two forms: a small cumulus that could project wind, rain and lightning, and a shapely piece of fanservice dressed in a few whisps of cirrus that always looked on the point of blowing away. As the result of a plot involving another team member attempting to seduce them all psychically, she discovered she could just as easily "condense" into a male body. The guys on the team were not pleased.
  • Morph of the Exiles gave this a brief try when he found out his crush was lesbian, but she very quickly pointed out that whatever he might make his physical body look like, his gender was still unmistakable.
  • The Ultimates: Herr Kleiser is a man because he consumed a man, but after some decades in that form he's ready to consume the wasp and experiment the female form.

    Fan Works 
  • In one chapter of OKShark's Eberron story, Welcome to the Jungle, one of the protagonists, a female changeling named Sam, talks about how her father actually gave birth to her due to getting pregnant in female form after picking the short straw and having to seduce a senior Thranish diplomat who was infatuated with Cousin Ailia as part of a plot to secure some incriminating correspondence for blackmail purposes. Her lover Neana (the other protagonist), is rather squicked about the whole thing. Since Neana is very much a lesbian, Sam does not take male form when the two of them get intimate.
  • An incredibly unhealthy version in the Young Avengers fanfic Space Oddity. Teddy carried on a friends with benefits relationship with his former toxic best friend, but on the condition that he swap sexes during intercourse. He was not comfortable with this.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Changelings are fully capable of changing into different genders depending on what their partner likes.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Superman vs. the Elite, when Clark Kent and Lois Lane are looking at an old lady claiming to know one of the Elite:
    Lois Lane: If she knows anything, I'm the Martian Manhunter.
    Clark Kent: There go all my fantasies.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Averted in Alfred Bester's The Deceivers. Titular Deceivers are a race of shapeshifters able to assume practically any organic form, but only of the same gender as them.
  • Used as a major plot point in Steel Beach by John Varley. Humans have become effectively immortal, but body-changing technology is common and easy, if not terribly inexpensive. The main character, Hilde, realizes he needs a change of pace and turns female partway through the book.
  • Elves in The Hound and the Falcon generally do have a gender identity, but most of them have no problem with taking on a form of the opposite gender. The protagonist, who was raised by humans, finds this squicky but can't come up with a good reason why (and his love interest suggests that he just needs to spend some time as a girl).
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Varamyr Six-Skins, a warg (able to control and possess animals), has experimented with inhabiting the bodies of both male and female wolves while they mate, just to see what it's like. His warging mentor told him that such things were an "abomination", but Varamyr didn't have much use for his rules.
  • In Bands of Mourning, the shapeshifter MeLaan reminds people in no uncertain terms that she is not bound to the narrow human mores of biology:
    MeLaan: Small breasts? Large breasts? Extra-large breasts? Picking a bust size is vital to a lady's evening preparations!' [later] I solved the problem. I'll go as a fellow... Um, is this a problem?
  • In Wild Seed, the immortal shapeshifter and healer Anyanwu was born female and thinks of herself as such, but her ability to transform her body includes the ability to change her sex. At one point, she tells another character that she can indeed father children, but only girls; it's implied that she learned this through experience, but the details are left to the reader's imagination.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In an early episode, Lister threatens to take an exam to get promoted above Rimmer unless Rimmer allows him to go on a date with the hologram of Kochanski. Paranoid that Lister will never switch him back on (the ship can only run one hologram at a time), Rimmer takes on Kochanski's appearance and initially claims "she" isn't interested. Once Lister realizes, however, Rimmer points out that "It's still her body", raising the question of exactly how far he'd go to avoid the situation.
    • Though she appears female to most of the characters, Camille can also take male form if the viewer prefers—the Cat sees himself as his ideal mate. She later notes that her species is actually androgynous.
  • Supernatural: Played with in an episode where a Siren is seducing and murdering various guys "she" meets at a strip club, where she is, of course, impersonating one of the girls. Later on, evidence seems to point towards it having assumed the form of a medical pathologist to seduce Sam, when in fact it has assumed the male form of an FBI agent to enthrall Dean. Not because Dean is bi-curious or anything, but because the Siren doesn't just limit itself to sexual desire. What Dean really wanted was a brother figure he could see eye to eye with.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Older Than Feudalism: As a trope involving shapeshifting and sex, Zeus (GOD OF HORNDOGS!) naturally gets in on the action — with a twist. Most of the time, when Zeus decided to shapeshift in order to bang someone he found attractive (male or female, with or without permission), it was in the form of a male. However, when Callisto caught his eye, he was much chagrined to find that she had taken a vow of chastity in order to serve Artemis. However, he noticed that the vow of chastity left a loophole in that she could have sex with Artemis. Naturally, Zeus changed himself to look just like his huntress-goddess daughter, and had his way with Callisto. Somehow this got her pregnant, which, long story short, is why Ursa Major and Ursa Minor look like long-tailed bears, and also why (the Greeks thought) there are werewolves.
    • From the same mythology dept., the (not-yet blind seer) Tiresias (though he was no "natural" shapeshifter — he killed the female of a pair of snakes having sex, and got turned into a female. 100 points if you find out how he turned back without using Wikipedia).
      • Another version has Tiresias get turned into a woman by Athena when he saw her naked (but recognizing it wasn't done intentionally, she only turned him into a woman rather than kill him). Later, Hera and Zeus decided to ask Tiresias whether he'd gotten more enjoyment out of sex as a man or a woman. Hera blinded him for siding with Zeus, so Zeus gave him the gift of prophecy to make up for it.
  • Norse Mythology: Older Than Print: Loki, Norse god of mischief, is a shapeshifter. He was born a male, and two different goddesses have borne some of his children. By the giantess Angrboda, he sired the elder wolf Fenrir, the world snake Jormungand, and the half-dead Goddess of the Norse land of the dead, Hel. By the Aesir Sigyn, he had two sons: Nari (and/or Narfi), and Vali. In the form of a mare he also bore the eight legged horse Sleipnir, fathered by an actual horse. In one story, Odin accuses Loki of having spent several years living on Midgard as a human woman, including birthing several children. This is after Loki has just insulted everyone else present, so whether it is true or just Odin giving some payback is uncertain, but it was certainly deemed plausible. Even more interesting, Loki shoots back by claiming that Odin had done the same. Since at least one other saga alludes to this, it is possible that there were now-lost legends that tell about both of these stories.
  • Some versions of Horny Devils steal men's seed as feminine succubi, and implant it in women as masculine incubi. The resulting child thus has both a human mother and father, but you just know it isn't going to turn out right with a conception story like that...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has this with Doppelgangers, amongst other things.
    • Eberron's Changelings also display this. The Becomers, in particular, tend to have very fluid gender identities and so freely indulge in both sexes and all sexualities as they see fit. Passers may be willing to change their specific appearance, but almost invariably have a very specific gender and sexuality they assume. Reality Passers, meanwhile, won't change out of their changeling form, but will happily shift between male, female, neuter and hermaphrodite genders as they will. It's part of Changeling biology to the point that, even though they do have true genders, alternate genders are fully functional, and even changelings with a "true gender" of male can become pregnant by using a female form.
    • If playing in a campaign that permits dragon Half-Human Hybrid characters, this is probably how it happened. Sorcerers often claim to have dragon blood in their ancestry and some of them are actually right.
  • Partially Inverted in Rifts, where Changeling NPCs (which are otherwise sexless) are often said to "Identify" with a single gender, which basically means that the forms they tend to change into will usually be only one sex unless they need to be the other.
  • Lunars in Exalted are often seen as being like this. Part of it is Memetic Mutation, but there is at least one canonical Lunar who's been switching sexes on such a regular basis for so long that they now no longer either know or cares which they started out as.
  • Eclipse Phase:
    • Ttranshumans can change bodies with only a little more effort than changing clothes (it's expensive and integration can take a while, but...). Gender identity is thus just that; it's quite likely that at some point you'll end up in a body of the other sex.
    • Further, there's a Biomod called a "Sex Switch" which allows you to change the sex of the body you're currently inhabiting around at will (though it takes a couple of hours to change the genitalia on the fly) and you're not restricted to just "male" and "female," either, the game assumes there's a continuity.

    Video Games 
  • Averted in Dragon Age: Origins, where it is implied that Morrigan stays female no matter what animal she happens to have turned into at the moment and can't take other human forms.

    Web Comics 
  • Sabine in The Order of the Stick has apparently tried it.
  • Due to the sheer amount of gender-bending going on in El Goonish Shive, you'd better believe this trope has come up:
    • Grace was transformed into a male (and felt attraction to females) during much of her birthday party but changed back to female when Tedd (at the time transformed into a female) got over his fear of liking a guy (however temporarily that person was a guy) long enough to kiss her.
    • As it seems, Grace would find it hot to have some action on Tedd while she's morphed into Elliot. Not that this would ever happen outside of Imagine Spots.
    • Ashley and Elliot are fairly willing to experiment with Elliot's shapeshifting magic. Ashley is bisexual, and has a bit of a transformation fetish. Elliot was born male, but is perfectly comfortable in female form. Their first kiss was girl on girl. Later on, Elliot's open-minded mother reminds Elliot that lesbians don't need to worry about birth control.
  • The Dragon Doctors: Sarin, master of transformation magic, refers to herself as a "shapeshifting perv" but says that, despite this, she doesn't really have that much girl-on-girl experience.
  • Elastic Man of Evil, Inc., has no problem going either way. In fact, he's not certain if he has a gender.

    Web Original 
  • Jimmy T in the Whateley Universe can shift his shape to look like anyone or pretty much anything. By the end of Halloween, he has a boyfriend/girlfriend who changes gender on a cycle. Which means Jimmy would be changing his apparent gender whenever they date.

    Western Animation 
  • Word Of God has it that the Third Race in Gargoyles have this kind of sexuality. They didn't start out with any concept of gender or sex, but they've "learned" about sexuality from humans, and can assume whatever form they please. Gargoyles also treats the myth of Loki and Sleipnir (see above) as a true story. But then, Loki's one of the Third Race, too.
  • In Young Justice, M'gann once turned into Black Canary for a roleplaying make-out session with Superboy. The real Black Canary was not pleased when she saw the security tape (neither was Green Arrow, until he saw the change, at which point he found it hilarious), though Martian Manhunter tried to explain that this was a common "game" on Mars, since everybody's telepathy made actual deception impossible. It's also worth noting that her real Martian form looks like a huge, hulking beast by human standards. Superboy presumably prefers her standard Earth form, but he already knew the truth before they hooked up anyway.

Alternative Title(s): Gender Revolving Door