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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)Crossdressing for justice
Related tropes/genresKink
See alsoGenderfuck, Genderswap, Transfic, Trap
Related articles on Fanlore.

Crossdressing is a theme in fanworks and in canon [1] wherein a character dresses as a member of a different sex or gender.

In canon, it is often used comedically, as a plot device and as a kink, both sexualized and not. It can be used for comedy or for kink in fanworks as well, but can also be portrayed seriously as an aspect of a character's gender identity or expression.

In some cases, a character is actually trying to pass as a member of the other sex and fool people. This is often seen in stories of women dressing as men to take a job or take part in some adventure that would otherwise be denied them. Coffee Prince uses the trope as its main plot device, as does Ouran High School Host Club, Princess Princess, and a lot of Shakespeare comedies. In other cases, the character crossdresses only occasionally, either for some plot-related reason or as part of kink play.

The phrase cross-dressing for justice usually refers to works in which the character is undercover as a woman in order to FIGHT CRIME. It may have originated in DC Comics fandom, where people cross-dress for justice a lot.

In anime fandom, a crossdressing character is sometimes called a "trap", especially for males dressing as female. A female dressing as male can be called a "reverse trap". There has been some backlash against this terminology, as some people say it is transphobic.[2][3][4]



Buffy the Vampire Slayer

  • Mascara by Sharkbait. Dark, angsty character study in which Jonathan puts on his mother's makeup

My Chemical Romance

Harry Potter

The Hobbit



Star Trek: TOS

  • Crossing the Line by Kathy Stanis (1995), James T. Kirk, "He pulled the delicate silk up slowly; the feel of it whispering against the smooth skin of his legs emptied his mind of everything else."

Teen Wolf


  • It Creeps Up On You by pocketmouse. She finds it hard to flat-out ask, out of nowhere. It reduces her to stammering and stuttering, and she hates that. The easiest way is to just trick herself into saying it, make herself believe it’s something casual, when really she’s going to say “I want to see you in a skirt.” Words: 11,558 Pairing: Owen/Toshiko

Twelfth Night

X-Men: First Class


  • I'm Your Man, a 2008 vid featuring women in men's clothes from a variety of movies and TV shows


Other Resources

Fictionmania - an archive for fiction about themes of gender-changes, cross-dressing, and transgender characters


  1. ^ Women dressing as boys is a common device in Shakespeare's comedies.
  2. ^ Traps are not necessarily Transgender, Anime-Traps wikia, 2017
  3. ^ "Why aren’t problematic translations fixed?", Amelia Cook,, February 4 2017
  4. ^ Gender Identity in Convention Culture, Lauren, Anime Boston blog, April 4 2015