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A character needs to undergo a complete physical sex change, usually through magic or Applied Phlebotinum, in order for them to access their powers. It is used as a justification to give a gender change to a character who would not ordinarily want one.

This trope gives a new twist to the classic secret identity, as the character not only has to face the responsibility of having great power but also the hardships of living as a new gender.

Might be used to (not-so-)subtly deliver An Aesop about how being yourself is greatly empowering.

Examples of Super Gender Bender include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden, Rimudo has the ability to switch between male and female forms (he usually stays male), but his Celestial Guardian abilities are only available when he's in his female form.
  • In Kämpfer, Natsuru Senou was chosen to become a Kämpfer. Thanks to this, Natsuru gains great strength and fighting abilities. On the other hand, it's apparently a rule that Kämpfers can only be girls, so any boys that are chosen transform into girls when their powers activate.
  • Oto X Maho is about a boy that becomes a Magical Girl.
  • The Sailor Starlights from the anime version of Sailor Moon also count; their whole transformation sequence involves shifting out of a male form into a female one. (In the manga they were girls the whole time, merely posing as boys while in their civilian identities) and their princess is surprised to see they've chosen male civilian forms when they do find her making this an inversion, as their male civilian forms are not their birth gender.
  • Subverted with Itsuki Myoudouin from Heartcatch Pretty Cure. Circumstances force her to live as a Bifauxnen, and it's after becoming Cure Sunshine that she slowly figures out what's best for herself. Namely, being both powerful and beautiful. Considering that her designated nemesis is an Ambiguously Gay guy with penchant for fashion, this might be a stealth queer aesop.
  • In PhD: Phantasy Degree, there are a set of magical rings that reverse the gender of their user as well as powering them up. Mostly used by a couple of women who turn into gorgeous, long-haired guys before bringing the hurt.

Comics

  • From Philippine comics, Zsazsa Zaturnnah is an an effeminate homosexual and the proprietor of a small town beauty salon. He has a huge spiky stone that physically transforms him into a superhuman woman whenever he ingests it and shouts the word "Zaturnnah!". His female form is similar in both powers an appearance to Wonder Woman.
  • Mantra from The Ultraverse. Originally a male warrior, he gained magical powers after his soul was transferred into the body of a woman.
  • In The Savage Dragon, the power to turn into Mighty Man, a Captain Marvel Expy, passed on to Ann Stevens, a nurse who becomes a tall, blond, male superhero when she taps her wrists together.
  • In Alan Moore's Promethea, one of the former Prometheas was a male comic book artist called Bill Woolcott.

Live Action TV

  • This was intended for Delenn as part of the metamorphosis in the original plan of Babylon 5. That plan was scotched, because Mira Furlan was not thought able to give a good male voice.

Video Games

  • Esp Galuda series: The heroes are already powerful psychics, but gender-changing makes them into even more powerful psychics.
  • It's somewhat implied in the X-Change series that the chemical that changes the protagonists' gender also causes them to emit very high quantities of pheromones. This is possibly a lampshade to explain all the crazy hi-jinks they get into, but it likely still counts.
  • Milton from Fable III if the hero is female, Milton will swap genders when he assumes the hero's form, as well as gaining power.
  • Shiek is either this or Sweet Polly Oliver.

Web Comics

  • Elliot from El Goonish Shive acquires a spell that allows him to turn into a voluptuous superheroine. Note that he is already pretty powerful due to his Supernatural Martial Arts. It's not clear exactly what kinds of powers he gets in superheroine form, but flight is one of them.
  • Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki. The protagonist is an average male Ordinary High School Student chosen to become a Valkyrie. However due to the fact that all Valkyries are female, he got transformed into a female to access those powers. He gets two new identities: one as a female version of his other self, and the other as an idealized Magical Girl version of that new self.
  • Exposure to Virus-X gave the T-Girls of the Remix Comic version of Jet Dream low-level super powers (enhanced agility, strength, and endurance.) Their exposure was accidental, but a voluntary procedure for recruiting new T-Girls is also described.
  • In Jill Trent, She-Sir Science Sleuth, when Femavium interacts with the spinal fluid of a man, the result is a transformed woman with super powers that seem to vary according to the recipient. Jill gains "girl-brain cells with the proportional density of 58 girls." Another character gains "the flexibility of 45 ballerinas."

Web Original

  • Whateley Academy has this as a central premise -- in the WhateleyVerse, mutants have about a 1 in 3 to 1 in 6 chance of being Exemplars, and thus having what's called a BIT -- Body Image Template. Long story short, these mutants have an idealized shape they associate with themselves, which can be just about anything -- including the "wrong" gender. The majority of the stories revolve around a clique of students who had their genders changed during their origin stories, and are part of Poe Cottage -- a dorm designed to hide this fact (as well as other LGBI students) from the study body at large.
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