|This article does not cite any references or sources. (November 2008)|
Gender bender is an informal term used to refer to a person who actively transgresses, or "bends," expected gender roles. Gender bending is sometimes a form of social activism undertaken in response to assumptions or over-generalisations about genders. Some gender benders identify with the gender assigned them at birth, but challenge the norms of that gender through androgynous behavior and atypical gender roles. Gender benders may self-identify as transgender or genderqueer, feeling that the gender assigned to them at their birth is an inaccurate or incomplete description of themselves; some are transsexual and desire to change their physical sex through hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery, while others were born intersexual. Gender Bender is also the slang term for connecting either 2 female connectors or two male connectors by the use of an adapter in the communications field.
In fiction, the term gender bender may refer not only to characters modeled after real-life gender benders, but also to characters who undergo changes in their physical sex – magically or otherwise – throughout the story. A work of art which challenges gender roles or features gender bending or transgender characters may itself be referred to as a "gender bender."
- In Orlando: A Biography, an influential novel by Virginia Woolf published in 1928, the protagonist lives three hundred years and in the middle transforms from a man into a woman.
- A historical and well-studied example of "gender bending" in English narrative is Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
- The manga and anime series Ranma ½, features a main character who regularly switches from male to female due to a magic curse.
- The manga and anime series Soul Eater, many of the main characters go into a magical book with each chapter being one of the seven deadly sins. In "Lust" each person is "gender bended" to test their temptation of the opposite sex.
- In the novel The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin, characters have neutral sex for most of their lives, but take on either male or female characteristics when in heat.
- In Neil Gaiman's comic, The Sandman, the character Desire is gender-fluid. He can become male, female, both, or neither, depending on the situation.
- Early examples of cross-dressing in films include A Florida Enchantment (1914) directed by and starring Sidney Drew and Mabel's Blunder (1914) directed by and starring Mabel Normand.
- The X-files episode Gender Bender, features a series of identical, sexually-oriented murders, where the killer appears to be both male and female, changing gender after experience of intercourse.
- The film Zerophilia is a romantic comedy about a young man who discovers he has a genetic condition that causes him to change gender when he's aroused.