Trans Characters in Fandom
|Trope · Genre|
|See Also:||Transfic, Transphobia in Fandom|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
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A person who is trans or transgender is someone who self-identifies their gender as different than the one they were assigned at birth.
In the late 20th and early 21st century, more media creators have specified characters as transgender, by either subtle hints or stating it outright. There are examples of both canonical trans characters and popular trans headcanons in fandom, although some segments of fandom resist the idea of transgender characters being canon. This resistance has been called out as transphobia by other fans.
Like, seriously, here’s the thing. It literally doesn’t matter to what extent a character being a trans woman is canon or not.
Linkle has no direct “evidence” to support her being trans, other than being a “gender-swapped” (ugh I hate that term) version of Link. So people fight me about it.
Samus Aran has some direct “evidence” that she's trans - a developer comment in particular. And people will fight tooth and nail to “prove” that this bit of “evidence” is irrelevant.
Grell Sutcliffe has literally been confirmed as trans by the creator of the series. And yet people outright refuse to acknowledge it, considering anything less than the fictional character saying the exact words “I am a trans woman” to not actually be canon.People don't care. They will do everything in their power to ignore the presence of trans women in the media they love. So why the hell should I have to wait for Nintendo to decree a character as trans (which they will, in all likelihood, never ever do) to consider it the truth? Why should I have to label every character I consider trans as a “headcanon” when there is no more evidence in the media itself to suggest cissness than there is transness?
Lovely how literature is completely up for interpretation by the reader, and how literally everything [...] in fandom is up for grabs, but the second lgbt people start interpreting the text using our own experiences and seeing ourselves in characters, and producing content that’s authentic to us and not pandering to the fetishes of cis and straight people, nothing can be imagined that isnt explicitly written in the original text.
Aside from some fans not even accepting characters as trans, there have also been arguments in fandom regarding the way these characters are depicted in fanworks. For example, when artist ohnips drew the cast of Dream Daddy genderswapped, many fans stated it was transphobic because it depicted a trans man as a woman. See also The Lup Problem for issues surrounding fanart portrayals of a trans woman as more masculine than her brother.
Labeling a trans character genderswap/genderbend/bodyswap is seen as transphobic, as this implies that their gender identity is something temporary or comical, thus diminishing or denying the existence of LGBTQ people.
Canonically Trans Characters
The following are clear examples of canonically trans characters in fandoms:
- Buck Vu from The OA is a trans man (although in one parallel universe within the show the character presents as female).
- Elle Argent from Heartstopper is a trans woman.
- Jules Vaughn from Euphoria is a trans woman.
- Nia Nal from the Arrowverse is a trans woman.
- Nomi Marks from Sense8 is a trans woman.
- Sophia Burset from Orange Is the New Black is a trans woman.
- Theo Putnam from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a trans man.
- Viktor Hargreeves from The Umbrella Academy is a trans man, transitioning in the third season after his actor, Elliot Page, came out.
- Birdo from the Super Mario Brothers franchise is a trans woman in the Japanese version of the games, although she is a cis woman in many international versions.
- Bridget from the fighting game franchise Guilty Gear was initially depicted as a male crossdresser but declares that she is a girl instead of a boy at the end of Guilty Gear: Strive. After some fans claimed Bridget was still considered male in Japan, the game’s developers released a statement clarifying her gender.
- Cremisius "Krem" Aclassi from Dragon Age: Inquisition is a trans man.
- Damien Bloodmarch from Dream Daddy is canonically a trans man. Additionally, the player can create and play their protagonist as a trans man.
- Eric Cooper from Assassin's Creed mentioned that he has had surgeries and a doctor friend helps regulate his hormones. Not all fans picked up on this and some believed he was "just gay". Eric being transgender was confirmed on Twitter, and again in an AC Encyclopedia some years later.
- Erica Anderson from the game series Catherine is a trans woman.
- Samus Aran, protagonist of the Metroid series, was stated by Hirofumi Matsuoka in an 1994 interview to be a "newhalf" (a Japanese term referring to trans women who have not had gender confirmation surgery). Some Metroid fans dispute the canonicity of this.
- Raine Whispers and The Collector from The Owl House are both nonbinary, using they/them and he/they pronouns respectively.
- Alex Fierro from Magnus Chase is genderfluid.
- Claude Montesse from Claudine...! is a trans man, portrayed surprisingly sympathetically for 1970s Japan.
- Lup from The Adventure Zone: Balance was a character teased for a long while, but then formally introduced in episode 60 and stated by Griffin to be a trans woman. (Griffin had sought input from fans on how best to introduce a trans character.)
- Isabella Yamamoto from the Paradise Kiss manga and anime series is a trans woman.
- Yussa Erenis from Critical Role is trans. Ashton and Fresh Cut Grass from the third campaign are also trans; both of them use he/they pronouns.
Ambiguously Trans Characters
There are, however, examples where because the characterization is mostly done through subtext, without direct creator confirmation, they're more ambiguous and fans argue about whether or not their identity is truly "canon."
- Mettaton (from Undertale) is often perceived by fans to be a transgender character based on Undyne referring to his old identity with they/them pronouns.
- Urushibara Ruka from the game and anime Steins;Gate is seen by many as a trans girl; one of the plot arcs involves her altering the past so that she is designated female at birth. Ruka being transgender is disputed by some, however, including the game's English localization staff, who stated "he believed his romantic feelings towards Okabe would no longer be unfounded if he were born female". There was a huge debate over which pronouns to use on Ruka's Wikia page.
- Grell Sutcliffe from the anime and manga series Black Butler calls herself as a lady and desires to medically transition, but was called a man and referred to with he/him pronouns by the manga's author prior to 2018, leading some fans to wonder whether Grell is a trans woman or an effeminate gay man.
- June Egbert from Homestuck.
Popular Trans Headcanons
- The characters Alphinaud Leveilleur and Alisaie Leveilleur from Final Fantasy XIV are identical-looking twins with different genders. While canon does not touch on this at all, many fans use trans headcanons for either of them to explain it.
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses fandom tends to write Felix Hugo Fraldarius and Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd as trans men, and Yuri Leclerc as nonbinary.
- Toyosatomimi no Miko, a character introduced in the 13th Touhou Project game, is interpreted to be trans female by some. In canon, her true identity is that of the real life Prince Shoutoku, a male Japanese politician from the sixth century. In the events of the game, Miko is resurrected in the modern day Gensokyo. A profile from Symposium of Post-mysticism indicates that she and her fellow shikaisen had some degree of freedom in choosing their forms when they reincarnated, since they'd already abandoned their body and flesh. Supposedly, most shikaisen tend to choose something similar to their old appearance, but Miko opted to change to a look "more suited to modern times".
- The headcanon that Danny Fenton from Danny Phantom is a trans man is a widespread example of a trans headcanon. Fans have pointed out many parts of canon that seem to indicate this, and persist in the headcanon despite Butch Hartman shutting it down.
- Hartman created The Fairly Oddparents as well, and fans also spotted parts of that show seeming to indicate Timmy Turner is a trans boy.
- Lake from Infinity Train is commonly headcanoned as nonbinary. This is often considered to be backed up by Word of God. As of January 2023, a YouTube video full of clips to support this has 1.6 million views and there are 87 works in the Nonbinary Lake | Mirror Tulip tag on AO3.
- Mulan from Disney's movie of the same name.
- Steven Universe fans have gathered evidence to support the headcanon of Lars as a trans man.
- Many fans support the theory/headcanon that Marco Diaz in Star vs. the Forces of Evil is a trans girl. Trans Marco Week was organized by tumblr user queenmarco from April 2-8 of 2017.
- Pidge from Voltron: Legendary Defender is also commonly headcanoned as trans: either as a trans girl, trans guy, or nonbinary. As of March 2019, there are 487 works in the "Trans Pidge | Katie Holt" tag on AO3 (312 in "Trans Female Pidge" subtag, 62 in "Trans Male Pidge" subtag), 874 works in "Nonbinary Pidge | Katie Holt", and 1,436 works in "Gender-Neutral Pronouns for Pidge | Katie Holt". Trans headcanons are also common for the other VLD characters. In February 2017, the "Trans VLD Week" event took place.
- Some Les Miserables fans believe Enjolras is written as a trans man and trans!Enjolras is a fairly common tag on AO3. Jehan is also often headcanoned as nonbinary.
- The Matrix is commonly read as a trans allegory, with the red pills representing Premarin (a form of HRT) and the blue pills representing Prozac (an antidepressant). As such, trans and nonbinary headcanons for all the characters abound.
- Peter Parker has been widely headcanoned as a trans man.
- Yentl from Barbra Streisand's film of the same name.
- Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad is often headcanoned as a trans man.
Portraying Headcanons in Fanwork
Depending on the medium, there are many different ways to express that a fanwork is portraying a character as trans when they may not be as such in the text.
Usage of pride flags in the background of images is common.
Some vids will use manips to indicate a character physically transitioning. Still image editors may use pride flag color palettes to indicate transness. Song choice makes a huge difference, and story vids can be used to express a trans narrative.
Meta about Trans Headcanons
Fans, especially fans who are trans themselves, often have headcanons about characters being trans. These often are shared as text posts on Tumblr or Twitter, as submissions to Tumblr headcanon blogs, as artwork, or as fanfiction. There is occasionally discourse over these headcanons, and some are of the opinion that these headcanons are too often based on stereotypes.
start headcanoning masculine dudes as trans u cowards. if you’re cis and every single transmasc hc you have is some ultra twink ass mfer just know im side eyeing you ultra heavy rn
bad trans headcanon tropes to leave behind for 2018
- trans man binds with ace bandages until a Good Cis Ally gets him a binder
- “this is my buff trans wife and i want her to murder me” and other various phrases that make the association that trans woman = violent
- trans man is in a state of undress when another character walks in on him shirtless, which outs him as trans against his will
- character who is a man (or uses he/him pronouns) in canon gets headcanoned as a trans woman and then in the trans headcanon fanart she’s drawn even buffer and hairier than in canon just to prove how Obviously Not Cis she is
- drawing cis characters like regular people but then stylizing your trans headcanons to emphasize the characteristics of their ASAB
- exclusively headcanoning thin adolescent white boys as trans men
- headcanoning Real, Actual People as trans
- referring to adult characters as “boys” if you headcanon them as trans; infantilizing trans men in general
- not bothering to draw body hair on your cis characters, but always including body hair on your trans women headcanons.
- having cis love interests say anything along the lines of “i love you no matter what parts you have :)” like they deserve a fuckin medal
- only writing/drawing trans characters in nsfw situations / fetishization in general
- Pretty white boy is trans and Mean POC bullies him for being trans
- Only headcanoning the rough, big female characters as trans, never any gentle or small women
- Only bi/poly/pan people dating trans people, as opposed to straight or gay people, because trans people aren’t “real” men/women
what's your take on nb and butch lesbians hcing male characters as trans women? men are closer to how i present (as a nb butch) and so that's generally why i'll say a canonically male character is a lesbian, but i'm also afab and recognize how that makes it easier for me to present as a lesbian, nb or otherwise, and don't want to continue doing this/making jokes about it if it's disrespectful.
If we’re talking a trans woman butch lesbian, then sure. As a trans woman, she’s trustworthy, and if she feels a canon male character’s worthy of headcanoning as a trans woman, she’s probably got her reasons. Doesn’t mean someone who isn’t a trans woman should necessarily piggyback on that, because they wouldn’t be doing so with an informed perspective, not unless there’s a broader pattern of trans women HCing the character as a trans woman.
If we’re talking someone assigned female at birth, then I would say that this is being done for the wrong reasons. If you ID more with a male character, that’s perfectly alright, but there’s no need to rope trans women into it. You could just leave them as men.
If it’s just about presentation, change the way female characters present accordingly. Like, I’m confused how that’s not the solution that immediately comes to mind. I don’t understand how a person can say they like a way a guy character looks, and come to the conclusion that they’ll just make him a trans woman so they can see themselves in the character better. I don’t get how the first impulse is to equate trans women with cis men, and not make a shift in presentation/expression of an existing woman character. Or, I DO get how it can happen, because cissexism makes these sort of decisions so rooted in common sense and instinct that people don’t even think twice about them. It becomes the easy solution, because of course a person will jump to HCing a man as a trans woman due to gender-related expression/presentation when they connect trans women with men, or at least overwhelmingly more with men than with other women.
If you absolutely have to have the character be a woman for whatever reason, I’d honestly prefer you rock a genderbend/cisswap. At least then you wouldn’t be directly equating trans women with cis men, even if similar cissexist underpinnings would be guiding the alteration. Still transphobic, but nothing that could pretend to masquerade as trans-positivity like trans HCs often are positioned as.
“I’d like to imagine this character is trans”
“THIS CHARACTER IS TRANS. THEY ARE MY SMOL BABY AND THEY ARE TRANS. AND IF YOU DON’T THINK THEY ARE YOU ARE A TRANSPHOBIC ASSHAT AND ARE GUILTY OF TRANS-ERASURE”✘ Yikes
This post managed to hit 20k with minimal discourse and I’m just glad I’m not the only one who’s tired of this.
This is why I can’t stand the Spiderman trans headcanons. I’m a whole ass fucking transgender man, don’t call me ‘transphobic’ because I don’t give two shits about a character who has always been cis, has always been played by cis men, and only became a trans headcanon when he was played by a young baby-faced actor. I’ve literally seen Spiderman referred to as 'an endlessly adorable trans boy’, and it makes me want to be sick. I’ll be over here headcanoning masculine MEN as FTM characters. Keep your fetishisation and infantilization away from me, and don’t fucking whine when a TRANSGENDER MAN has OPINIONS that deviate from your own. Fuck’s sake. I have never, NEVER read a FTM headcanon fic that hasn’t made me want to die. I’ve had to write my own FTM fic just to read about MEN like me, because trans headcanons only ever seem to produce cute uwu boys. And it makes me so. Fucking. Uncomfortable.
Cis people with trans headcanons are.. suspicious
If you’re cis & you immediately go “hehe he’s trans” when a male character is short or thin or whatever…….. I don’t trust like that
If you’re cis & you immediately go “ooh she’s trans” when a female character is tall or muscular or whatever, I especially don’t trust like that
Cissies can and should reblog this but y'all best not be clowns in the notes
hey op I’m trans so i hope you don’t mind if I add:
transmasculine/trans men need to check themselves about this too.
we have to ask ourselves: hey, why do i headcanon that female character as a trans woman, while i think this other female character is cis? is there a (possibly hurtful) pattern?
just because we’re trans too it doesn’t excuse us from transmisogyny
You’re right and you should say it
As a trans woman, we have to keep an eye out for this as well! Making headcanons that a character is a trans man because they’re “small” or “thin” or “soft featured” is really suspect and not great!
Additionally, there are sometimes disagreements over whether depictions of trans people must include the realities of dysphoria and transphobia and all they entail, or whether works where trans people are allowed to exist without them are better. Others argue that both are good and important.
- Fanart meta: genderswap, crossdressing, and trans-ness (2010)
- Trans, nonbinary, and gender-diverse characters on AO3 (Oct 2021) by Destination: Toast!
A button featuring Danny Phantom in his ghost form, with the trans pride flag as a background. (therosielord, 2021)
Fanart of Harry Potter in sweatpants and a chest binder. The binder is in the trans pride colors by Myrkky (2019)
Princess Daisy declaring "I am a Proud Trans Princess" with a happy wink and blush. (Moon, 2019)
A screencap of Father Ted with a large sign photoshopped to say "TRANS RIGHTS". (pirate-pizza-party, 2019)
Fanart of "Krem" Aclassi of Dragon Age, a canonical trans man, in a chest binder. (Amonkirabepraised, 2015)
- comeback 🚪 trans non/disney by interplanet janet
- Let me see who you are. [Non/Disney Trans Mep] hosted by Amani
- S★MEPS | DRESS TO IMPRESS Multifandom IC [#32] (TRANS PRIDE MEP!) hosted by StarstruckMEPS
- thin 💙💖🤍 full MEP hosted by howlelujah
- True Trans Soul Rebel AMV by SakuraYuki112Jr
- [CCS] Beautiful Soul MEP hosted by Childhood Creativity Studios
- TV Tropes: Transgender
- Wikipedia: List of transgender and transsexual fictional characters (needs additional citations!)
- Wikipedia: List of transgender characters in film and television (needs additional citations!)
- Wikipedia: Media portrayals of transgender people (needs additional citations!)
- Nonbinary Wiki: Nonbinary gender in fiction
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