Gender bender is an informal (and sometimes pejorative) term used to refer to a person who transgresses, or “bends,” expected gender roles in some way. Gender benders may self-identify as transgender or genderqueer, feeling that the gender assigned to them at their birth is an inaccurate and/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 intersex. Still others may identify as members of a third gender.
Some of those called gender benders identify with the gender assigned them at birth, but challenge the norms of that gender through androgynous behaviour, cross-dressing, or other assumption of atypical gender roles.
Fiction and art
In fiction, the term “gender bender” may refer not only to characters modelled after real-life gender benders but also to characters who undergo changes in their physical sex, magically or otherwise, throughout the story. One example of this is the anime and manga series Ranma ½, which features a main character who regularly switches from male to female due to a magic curse.
In addition, a work of art which challenges gender roles or features gender bending or transgender characters may itself be referred to as a “gender bender.”