Bifauxnen

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Bifauxnen -- bringing romance and excitement to your life since the French revolution.
"Oh, my stars and comets! He's a she!"

A female character who resembles a pretty, androgynous boy but in a positive fetishistic way, usually coupled with an appropriate 'masculine' outfit of varying conceivability depending on the artwork. Swooned over by confused females as much as outright Schoolgirl Lesbians. Sometimes in the episode they're introduced, they're confused for men until the other characters recognize and treat them as girls. Occasionally, it's also a roundabout way of adding a stereotypically 'male' role to a show that doesn't have (or want) one. Very often subject to at least one Stupid Sexy Flanders gag, sometimes even after The Reveal of their true biological sex.

Interestingly, most versions are Prince Charming types and overwhelmingly 'good' characters. Bifauxnen are, from an artistic standpoint, everything that is positive about masculinity while also not losing anything fundamentally 'woman'. Many characters, in fact, simply heavily associate with traits typically praised in men; the appearance is just another path to that. Most of the time the Bifauxnen is not a Butch Lesbian, and is mostly oblivious to reactions they incite.

The major distinction between them and Tomboys is a direct association with elegance and style, and they often appear older than they really are. Tomboys are often associated with playfulness and immaturity, but are still clearly female.

Bifauxen, however, do not include trans men, as the latter are men (mentally if not physically) and not simply 'mistaken' for men. Usually they can be distinguished by how they identify, such as Takatsuki from Wandering Son.

This is mainly a Japanese trope. Western examples do exist, dressing this way either throughout a work or in a single scene, but the Western example is generally not straight. Rather, dressing a female character up as a Sharp-Dressed Man was, in European and North American works in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a standard Getting Crap Past the Radar way to imply that she was lesbian or bisexual when open acknowledgement and depiction of her sexuality would have been forbidden by taste-and-decency standards.

A subtrope of Lady Looks Like a Dude. The male equivalent is Dude Looks Like a Lady. Not to be confused with Sweet Polly Oliver, who only dresses like a man to achieve a goal that requires her to seem male. Compare to Samus Is a Girl, where the gender simply isn't discernible until The Reveal. Can also be a case of Bifauxnen and Ladette if there's more than one in a particular work or Everybody Wants the Hermaphrodite if she just happens to have a few male bits in the end. Also see The Ladette and Attractive Bent Gender. May involve a Gender Reveal.

Examples of Bifauxnen include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Kurau from Kurau Phantom Memory. She's very mannish and wears masculine clothing most of the time, the only thing usually giving her away is her voice. Of course, when she pretends to be a man to bodyguard a guy at his wedding, she disguises her voice perfectly.
  • June from Coyote Ragtime Show. She's the knife-fighter.
  • Pictured above: Oscar from Rose of Versailles is the archetypal example, more or less cribbed from the otokoyaku (boytype) stereotype of the real-life Takarazuka Revue performers. The Rose of Versailles just happens to be one of their most famous performances.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Haruka Tenou (Sailor Uranus) is modeled on a real-life Takarazuka character. While this is less emphasized after her introduction in the comic, it made her very distinctive in promotional materials by adding some variety, and eventually became her major character trait in the show adaptation.
    • The Sailor Starlights from the final season also qualify under this trope, although the original mundane explanation seems inexplicably avoided.
  • Ranma ½
    • Ukyou, but only around the time of her introduction. From the moment she puts aside her grudge with Ranma and Genma, she gets girlier as the series progresses.
    • Likewise, Ryuunosuke from Urusei Yatsura, Ukyou and Ranma's authorical ancestor.
  • My-HiME: Chie in had hints of this. Her Mai-Otome version turned this up even more with her husky voice, flirty manner, predilection to blue roses, and association with the much-more-girly Aoi. It's even more obvious in Mai-Otome Zwei, where her Robe is a suit with a top hat rather than the standard dress.
  • Simoun: Paraietta, especially impressive given the premise of the show. Though the outfit and her physique don't fit the trope. It's more the attitude and facial features.
  • In the Revolutionary Girl Utena movie, one of the major characters doesn't realize Utena is female until he's halfway into a fight scene with her due to her boys' school uniform and short hair (covered further by a hat). Nobody made that mistake in the original, where she had long hair and wore Daisy Dukes. Utena's status is made a bit more complex by her dislike of actually being identified as masculine. Rather, she assumes the qualities of a prince as a heroic, energetic, and proactive figure, and the rest is window dressing.
The movie's case, being a rather compact..."retelling," it seems that she purposefully dresses as a Bifauxnen, and starts off acting rather suave about it, making it less clear how she views people thinking of her as masculine.
  • Galaxy Angel: Due to the lack of men in the show, the tall, husky voiced gun-nut Forte ends up playing one whenever the team requires. Especially ironic given her generic costume shows off her assets very prominently.
  • Likewise, Maria Tachibana and Kanna Kirishima from Sakura Taisen are tall and have husky voices, so they usually play male roles in their musical productions.
    • Later we get Leni Milchstrasse, who is petite and waifish and talks like a boy.
    • Subaru Kujou from Sakura Taisen V sits squarely between Bifauxnen and Transsexualism territory. She occasionally refers to herself with female pronouns and does not mind when others do the same, but she staunchly refuses to actually identify as female or male, and her gender is questioned at various points throughout the game without a clear answer ever being supplied. The word genderqueer was invented for people like her.
  • In Kare Kano, Maho Izawa is cast in a play as an android bishounen.
  • Hana Kimi: Originally a pretty girl, Mizuki made a good Bifauxnen when she cross-dressed to go to an all-boy school. There, she is revered as a pretty boy. However, when she went back home for the holidays, her father mistook her for a boy upon seeing her with her short boyish hairstyle (not to mention, she was pretty flat too).
  • Kino's Journey plays with this deliberately, as the title character's gender isn't made explicit to the audience for a couple of episodes. Kino seems to be designed as an "everyman" (well, a woman) who everyone can identify with to some extent.
  • Mariasama ga Miteru: Rei Hasekura is a subversion. She happens to be a Kendo Team Captain, tall, and short-haired, but this is the extent of her boyish qualities; her short, delicate-looking petite soeur Yoshino is the actual tomboy of the pair. Rei also tends to wear male (or at least male type) clothes when out of uniform, though this could be due to having difficulty find clothes in her size.
  • Megumi from Tenshi na Konamaiki is an unusual subversion as she was turned into a girl, and despite being unusually skilled at grooming herself, is mistaken for a one for her rough speech.
  • Maggie from ROD The TV is very tall with a husky voice, yet at the same time very shy and withdrawn.
  • Strawberry Panic: Amane Ohtori ("the Prince of Spica"), as well as her predatory Evil Counterpart Kaname. In an amusing irony during the manga, Amane is almost railroaded into pairing up with Kaname for the Etoile contest, under the logic that her fangirls would be less upset about that kind of setup. The light novels add yet another bifauxnen, Makoto Kusanagi.
  • Hellsing:
    • Sir Integra. Back when most people's exposure to Hellsing came through the TV series, some people were genuinely confused as to her gender, despite a flashback episode in which, as a young girl, she is clearly shown wearing female clothing. The manga and OVA actually begin with this flashback, making such confusion nigh on impossible.
    • Heinkel Wolfe, at least in the "Crossfire" manga extras.
  • Juliet Fiamatta Asto Capulet in Romeo X Juliet dresses as a boy named Odin to disguise her connection to the Capulet family line, as the last surviving member is known to be female. Small subversion, though: after Juliet learns of her heritage, she's allowed to wear dresses and let her hair down when she's in the Capulet headquarters and away from intruders, and she seems to take it in stride. And once Juliet's identity is revealed to the public and everyone knows who she truly is, she just doesn't bother with boyish disguises anymore.
  • Minami Iwasaki in Lucky Star, although this is played up by her Fan Girl classmate.
  • Rina from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is more Tall, Dark and Bishoujo than anything, but she wears the male uniform, and upon her introduction in the anime, Lucia and Hanon wonder, "That was a girl... right?"
  • Minami-ke: Touma Minami (no relation) is first persuaded to pose as a brother, then later insists on being called a boy, even though she's not, probably because all three of her elder siblings are Aloof Big Brothers (to varying degrees). This provides some nice contrast to Wholesome Crossdresser "Mako-chan".
  • In Pokémon, during the Battle Frontier, Ash met Anabel. Her clothes, short haircut, and ambiguous voice, at least in Japan (and the Latin American dub, by extension), led him to assume she was a guy at first. Not even Brock, who successfully blew up Duplica's similar stunt in the first season, could identify Anabel as female when he met her. The dub screwed the effect up by giving Anabel the voice of a grown woman.
    • Anabel's even more bifauxnen in one of the manga, to the point where people thought she got a gender change due to the clothes [dead link] she wore for half of the manga.
    • In the Pokémon Special manga, Yellow is thought to be a boy by the rest of the main cast, right up until her hat gets blown off so they can see her ponytail.
      • Red still thinks she's a guy... for about a year... causing some awkward tension with Misty...and setting up for the best reaction in the entire manga when she finally takes the hat off in front of him.
    • Also from the anime, Aoi/Angie in Diamond and Pearl. Gruff voice, very butch appearance and speech patterns, a big appetite that rivals the shounen hero and was not known to be female until she yelled "haven't you ever heard of ladies first?!"
    • The tomboyish Nozomi/Zoey also counts. For added effect, she always wears suits in when competing in contests.
  • Millie Thompson from Trigun.
  • Miura of Yotsuba&! talks and dresses very much like a boy, so much so that Gentle Giant Jumbo gets confused over her gender when he first sees her.
  • Rin Asougi from Mnemosyne seems to have this down pat - if it wasn't for her rather large breasts, she could quite often be mistaken for a effeminate man. This is in large part due to her choice of clothes - a man's business suit. It doesn't help that she is by far extremely Badass.
  • The Wallflower has Sunako-chan turning up at a 'boy/girl mixer' with her classmates, dressed as an extremely pretty boy, because it precludes the chance of any boys asking her out but still fulfills her promise to go out with them. She's,er... special. No, not that way.
  • Sai from Kaze Hikaru passes for a cute teenage boy fairly easily as a Sweet Polly Oliver - and her forbidden love for her captain makes them almost seem like Yaoi Guys. Even a few comically perverted guys in the manga fall for her to a degree- including one who goes past flirtation and outright into attempted rape, with rapidly disappearing 'comedy' aspects as it becomes clear what his intentions are and what this would mean for her prospects at continuing to pass for male.
  • Diva from Blood Plus transforms herself to look like this after raping and killing her twin sister's adoptive little brother Riku in order to impregnate herself. To add insult to injury, it's his appearance she takes.
  • Protagonist Ryougi Shiki of Kara no Kyoukai is a subtle example, as there are few extraneous characters to comment on her handsomeness. In the first chapter, every phrase concerning her was written so that her actual gender was not mentioned until the second-to-last line. This probably has to do with her (originally) having two personalities, one male and one female. Though by episode 4 (chronologically 2) SHIKI (the male personality) sacrifices himself in the Void for Shiki (the female personality) to live on, wakes up from her coma, and gaining the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception.
  • Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club mostly doesn't care if she's taken for male or not and often dresses in feminine clothing when she's not at school... but since the rest of the Host Club is determined to keep her gender a secret, she wears a male school uniform. (Not helped by how she actually wore the male uniform before joining the club, since it was cheaper than the girl's one.) Note she is considered to fill the "boy so pretty he could be a girl" demographic to the unknowing club customers.
    • Benio "Benibara" Amakusa of St. Lobelia Girls' Academy's Takarazuka Club, meanwhile, is a fully intentional example.
  • Setsuna Sakurazaki of Mahou Sensei Negima has fooled some into thinking she was male while dressed in edo period clothes. Most cite it as her behavior around her charge Konoka.
    • In Negima?! Neo, they swap roles: Setsuna is the Yamato Nadeshiko in a luxurious kimono, Konoka is the Bifauxnen and wears a Shinsengumi uniform. But nobody makes any comment, because the only other girl around turns out to be Tsukuyomi...
    • Both Setsuna and Kaede wear men's-style suits fairly often in the Magical World arc, even to a formal ball. However, nobody has confused Kaede with a man.
  • Yagyu Kyubei from Gintama is an unusual example - she exemplifies this trope, but not on accident; she was raised as a male. Otae says Kyubei was "born with a woman's body, but a man's heart".
    • Mutsu is also an example. Doesn't help that she wears men's clothing.
  • Both Yayoi and Lin from Kure-nai. It's no wonder that they always end up fighting each other.
  • Kiri from Never Give Up! ended up with the looks of her father. Furthermore, to follow her love interest, she gets hired as a male model.
    • Her masculine features are emphasized by her love interest, Tohya, being an effeminate-looking boy. This is often joked about by Kiri's friend, Natsu:

Natsu: I do think you two look good together.
Kiri: Huh?! Really?!
Natsu: Prince Kiri and Princess Tohya. You'd be best couple in the yearbook, for sure!

  • In Martian Successor Nadesico, an escaping enemy once confused the athletic, short-haired Action Girl Ryoko for a guy when she tried to contact him via Holographic Terminal. She was not amused. Note this was a one-off occurrence, as this confusion would not be possible in person thanks to the magic of Latex Space Suits, and the character in question had a particularly narrow view of "proper" mecha pilots.
  • The viewers weren't the only ones who were confused with the gender of the boyish Otto from Lyrical Nanoha. In the supplementary manga that featured the Numbers, it's revealed that most of the Numbers themselves were also unsure whether Otto's a man or a woman, and Quattro ordered the few who do know to keep a tight-lip about it.
    • And in the post-StrikerS Time Skip, she's now working as a butler for the Belkan Saint Church, complete with matching suit.
  • In Himegami, there's several bifauxnen hiding almost in plain sight. The protagonist Hyou is one, though the women she protects all know. The primary villain, a French noble named Gawain, very surprisingly turns out to be one after everyone but her servants leave her home, and she undresses to be waited on hand and foot. That suit hides her bust very well.
  • Ren Radou from GetBackers fits this trope to a T, especially in the manga. In the anime, she's tomboyish but still recognizably female (even without having a voice). In the manga, she's...well, see for yourself.
  • Averted in Angelic Layer, since Sai apparently wears a long skirt.
  • They Are My Noble Masters: Averted was Natose, who is a semi-bifauxnen, the only thing is she has boobies (huge ones in fact), and she wears panties under her clothes.
  • Ice Revolution - tomboy Masaki is getting tired of constantly being mistaken for a boy (her short Anime Hair, preference for tracksuits, masculine speaking style, aggressive nature, amazing strength and fighting skills, in-denial dojo-owning father and two brothers, one of whom looks just like her don't help) gets inspired by figure skating after trying to find the only boy who's seen her in a girl's uniform in order to thank him after he saves her from a truck. Unfortunately the coach who discovers her believes he's found the next great male figure skater. It takes another two chapters before that's cleared up and a Wholesome Crossdresser gives her beauty advice.
  • Oniisama e... has Rei Asaka and Kaoru Orihara; Rei usually wears a black suit with lacy shirt while Kaoru's clothes tend to be almost vaguely unisex.
  • Kana, the Wrench Wench from Haibane Renmei. She dresses in a boy's uniform and her voice is low enough in tone to be passable for either gender, and every so often someone asks about "him". These aspects of her, however, are only lightly touched upon in the anime.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV. See Media Research Failure for the confusion that resulted from her character design.
  • Hilling Care, Dark Action Girl and Ribbons' twin sister from Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
  • Baccano!: Ennis is a partial case, being obviously female but prone to dressing and carrying herself like a man in a time period where that didn't often happen. The real Bifauxnen however is Ricard Russo, who's more often taken for a cute little boy than a teenage girl by characters and readers.
  • Black Jack: Kisaragi Kei is an early example. She began living entirely as a man after her (cancerous) ovaries and uterus were removed.
  • Kiri-chan from Ga-Rei Zero. (Almost a carbon copy of the one in the picture above.)
  • Shadow in Godannar manages to cross the line all the way to "are you sure she's not a man?" despite having an obviously female body. This is because she manages to be one of the few pilots to contract the Insania Virus, which is supposed to primarily affect men.
  • After years of doing the opposite in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Hirohiko Araki finally dropped the reverse Bridget on us with Hot Pants in Steel Ball Run. It makes her Stand power, the flesh-spraying Cream Starter surprisingly fitting.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
  • W Juliet: You would never know Miura Ito was a girl unless she told you, especially at the beginning of the manga. Likewise, her boyfriend Makoto makes a gorgeous woman, to the point where all of his male classmates are in denial when they find out the truth at the end of the manga. Ito is constantly given male roles in the school drama club (their teacher is apparently a huge Takarazuka fan), and the one time she was cast as the female lead it was supposed to be a comedy version of Swan Lake, with Makoto as the hansom prince.
  • Jun of Saki. Short hair, dress shirt and tie, husky voice, usage of male first-person pronouns, and a tall, lean figure? Even some viewers were thrown off by this despite her presence in an all-girl tournament.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Throughout most of the series, Yubel does look female. Actually, she's a hermaphrodite. The confusion sets in when you see her in her formerly human state, where she's a prepubescent girl with a masculine features. Viewers often mistake her for a boy because she was so androgynous.
  • Tomokane of GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class is so masculine to the level that she's easily passed off as a boy with girl's school uniforms.
  • A character in Monochrome Factor who is employed at Master's bar looks perfectly male as his shirt is always half open and you can see he (she) has a flat chest. However, after he goes a little crazy after telling Maya he (she) is actually a girl and Mayu rejects him, then is possessed by kokuchi she (he) seems to develop rather large breasts...
  • Nyan Koi: Nagi is tall and flat-chested, also a gangster (the daughter of a Yakuza family) and the captain of the track team. She used to love girlish clothes and things, but started dressing and acting like a man after her first love rejected her.
  • Mashiro Ichijo's gender identity is a key part of the plot of the manga After School Nightmare.
  • Manhwa examples:
  • Akito from Fruits Basket actively fooling people into thinking she's a man. Helps that she has a very similar hair cut to Yuki's. Does not apply in the anime where Akito is obviously male.
  • Kaoru Daichi from Ladies versus Butlers!! is both Akiharu's roommate and a girl crossdressing as a boy. Given what type of series this is, this makes for some awkward tension.
  • Yui Goido becomes one in The World God Only Knows after her capture.
  • Kaori Makimura from City Hunter is often mistaken for a handsome dude, sometimes by all the pretty girls that Ryo Saeba is chasing.
  • Subverted in Gundam Seed. During her first appearance, Cagalli is dressed in rather boyish clothes but does not do anything specific to hide her gender. People just assume she's a boy..
  • Itsuki from Heartcatch Pretty Cure. Justified because she had to take over her family's business, and her older brother Satsuki (who looks like a girl, oddly enough) is an Ill Boy, so she has to dress like the opposite gender. And her disguise was so convincing, Even the Girls Want Her.
  • Interestingly, another Itsuki is assumed to be this at first in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but the title character quickly decides that "for now, he looked male".
  • 1/2 Prince has a variation. The main character is a girl who takes on the role of a male in a virtual reality MMORPG, very few people see through the disguise, and what few do only manage to do so after she gives herself away.
  • Akira in Kaguyahime.
  • Ryo Kuromatsu in the manga The Magic Touch. She looks so much like a boy that even when she wears girl clothes, she looks like a guy wearing girl's clothes. Most characters in the manga know she's a girl, though.
  • Melk the Second from Toriko. Done so she can become the apprentice of her adopted father, the first Melk.
  • The title character from Musashi Number Nine. The big reveal comes at the end of nearly every issue/story arc, especially early on.
  • Lucrezia Noin from Gundam Wing believed that gender distinctions didn't matter in the battlefield, so she had rather boyish and elegant looks.
  • Natsuki Koshimizu from Detective Conan, who manages to pass herself as a boy by dressing up in boyish clothes and acting/speaking like a Bokukko. Hakuba, Conan and Heiji are rather surprised when they see her in a sailor uniform.
    • Later on, Sera. In fact, she is first confused for a molester, and assumed by everyone to be male for the rest of the case. The turth is only revealed when she appears in school the next day - wearing a skirt.
  • Even though the entire casts are underaged girls flying magical planes while not wearing pants, a few characters in Strike Witches can qualify, especially Waltrud Krupinski.
  • Actually a plot point for the Girls Love manga Gokujou Drops. Turns out a boy Komari made a childhood promise with years ago was her current squeeze Yukio
  • Change 123 gives us Ginga who is easily mistaken for a boy, what with running around shirtless, and having a flat chest due to her muscle structure. It takes an accidental peek at her preparing for the bath (and later Kousukegawa getting his face pressed against her crotch after falling off the roof) for her to admit she's a girl.
  • Persona 4: The Animation has Naoto.
  • Shu from Flower Flower.
  • Chizuru from Wandering Son counts at times. She typically looks feminine when in casual wear, but whenever she decides to crossdress in a boy's uniform she does looks like a Bishonen with long hair. She's gained the attention of a few girls too.
  • During the Claymore episode "The Witch's Maw", Claire pulls this off by wearing a figure-concealing cape, pulling her already-short hair back, and lengthening her vocal cords to deepen her voice. The voice of her thoughts remains the same, however.
  • Eureka looks almost like a male in her soccer attire in episode 39 of Eureka Seven thanks to her hair loss.
  • Jun Kamigamo from Natsu no Arashi looks unquestionably like a male until the reveal of her true gender.
  • Halfway through the series Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, the protagonist Kodaka Hasegawa was surprised to find out that his long forgotten male childhood friend was Yozora Mikazuki, who was actually a female.
  • Shizu from Maria Holic. She's Mariya's Half Identical Twin who's going to an all-boys school; a perfect parallel to Mariya who's a Villainous Crossdresser who goes to an all-girl school.
  • Houou Gakuen Misoragumi looks very much like a boy; she doesn't even have a chest bump when wearing clothing, male or female. She fits connmpletely in at her All-Boys school, which is full of Bishonen.
  • The entire main cast of Ai Ore Love Me is made up of girls who look like men.. Well, most of the main cast. The one boy looks like a girl.
    • From the same author's manga Sensual Phrase, we have Towa's girlfriend Miya. She's a beautician and clothes designer, and actually it's her who created Towa's really girly looks.
  • Believe it or not, Sakura Kinomoto pulled this off at least once in Cardcaptor Sakura. Most noticeably in the School Play where she was cast as the Prince and donned a boyish outfit really well.
  • Sheryl Nome from Macross Frontier does this for some of her concerts as a costume while singing (and cleans up quite well). Is quite Hilarious in Hindsight considering her love interest "Princess" Alto.
  • Kei from Iria Zeiram the Animation is revealed to be a girl after everyone believed her to be a boy for most of the series.
  • There's a oneshot manga called Kuroneko Guardian where a young singer is given a bodyguard. She's dressed as a boy because "it'd be easier to work if people didn't know she was a girl".
  • Haruka Hiroko in the second story of Himitsu Kichi.
  • Elfen Lied: The Agent was confused for a man for almost all of her appearances, but was revealed as female at the very end, where her shirt rips, and reveals her cleavage.

Art[edit | hide]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Happened to Jubilee of the X-Men at least once. In a slightly odd turn of events, the dinosaur-riding tribe who made the mistake actually had her half-way to the altar with a choice bride standing by before the misunderstanding could be cleared up.
  • In the early Star Wars comics, the ones produced by Marvel, there was a prince who went to Luke Skywalker for help; later in the arc it was revealed that this character was that prince's twin sister, as the prince himself had died. In order to keep her planet's morale up, she'd needed to keep his death a secret. At the end of the arc the princess also died, and the two of them met Yoda in the afterlife - the princess was clearly shorter and somewhat narrower-shouldered than her brother, but still fairly androgynous. Without looking at the word balloons, it's actually rather difficult to tell that she's female.
  • Carrie Kelley, the successor to the Robin mantle in The Dark Knight Returns, is mistaken for a boy by the police. Somewhat of an inversion on how Robins on New Earth are either mistaken for or portrayed in other media as girls.
  • Fey Truscott-Sade, from the Doctor Who Magazine comics.

Fan Fic[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • Ellen Page is a very scary Bifauxnen as Hayley Stark in Hard Candy.
  • In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Mr. Rooney finds who he believes is Ferris at the arcade, but turns out to be a girl with some Pepsi.
  • In Victor Victoria, the title character is played by Julie Andrews. Female both in real life and in the movie, she plays the eponymous Victor, an ostensibly male drag queen. Part of the plot is fueled by various women being very attracted to "Victor" (as a subplot, a few of the male characters have a Stupid Sexy Flanders reaction to "him.")
  • The actress Tilda Swinton, who started her career by living this trope. She is attractive to both genders, while being androgynous enough to apply for Even the Girls Want Her and Even the Guys Want Him, depending on the character.
    • She played the technically sexless Angel Gabriel for the movie Constantine.
    • Orlando from the film Orlando, who begins as an androgynous man in the 16th century, becomes ageless, and later changes sex into an androgynous woman.
      • The novel on which the film is based was written by Virginia Woolf, writing it as a fictionalised biography for the author-poet Vita Sackville-West, with whom she had an affair. Vita's son would later describe it as "the longest and most charming love-letter in literature".
    • Also a feature in many of Tilda's glamour shots. There are several which try to make half of her look like a woman and half of her look like a man. It's strangely attractive.
    • Conan O'Brien has said that Tilda should play him in a movie. She said she'd do it.
  • Johnny (Jane Birkin) from Je T'aime Moi Non Plus. She ends up giving the gay protagonist Krassky (Joe Dallesandro) a major case of Stupid Sexy Flanders after subjecting him to an Unsettling Gender Reveal.
  • Cate Blanchett playing... er... "not Bob Dylan" (It Makes Sense in Context) in I'm Not There. Fetish Fuel ensued. Suffice it to say that Cate makes a rather hot guy. The fact that her voice is very much on the huskier end of the scale helped.
  • Chloe Sevigny from If These Walls Could Talk 2
  • Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted was wonderfully Johnny Deppish. She was also androgynous in her role as Legs in Foxfire, and spends the last act of Salt with a short haircut, wearing men's clothes she was in disguise as a man, complete with facial prosthetics which she removes, while keeping the hair and clothes.
  • Imogen Stubbs, as Viola/Cesario in the 1996 adaptation of Twelfth Night. Olivia's infatuation is completely understandable...
  • A short-haired Keira Knightley is mistaken for a boy (and to be making out with the female protagonist) in one scene in Bend It Like Beckham. (*happy sigh*) Although the character is traditionally feminine in some ways, her sportiness, preference for trousers at all times, and lack of interest in enhancing her cleavage create a boyish aura around her (contributing to her mother's suspicions that she's gay).

"All's I'm sayin' is, there's a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a fella."

    • In early drafts she was a lesbian, but the creators then decided that it would encourage the sexist belief that all sporty young women must be Lesbian Jocks.
  • Yitzhak in Hedwig and The Angry Inch is played by a woman, has an obviously feminine voice, is a former Drag Queen, and looks like a scruffy young man. And is very cute.
  • Jack in Pitch Black" was androgynous.
  • In one of the interrogation scenes in The Dark Knight, Maggie Gyllenhaal, known for occasionally dancing around the rim of Bifauxness, wears an outfit that makes her look vaguely like David Bowie.
  • Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander is another dark example.
  • Laure from Tomboy is androgynous looking. She's able to pass herself off as a boy, and even normally she looks like a boy.. It helps that she's only ten, so a haircut and boys clothes is really all she needs to pass as male.
  • Some Kind of Wonderful: Watts is just a raggedly dressed Tomboy for most of the film, but becomes this in the last act after donning a male chauffeur's outfit.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat The Vampirized Gabrielle, Lestat's mom usually adopts male clothing and hair style to be free to do as she wished. During the time (late 18th century) it was difficult for women to get away with living so independently, so she does this for practical reasons.
  • Nan Astley and Kitty Butler, of Tipping the Velvet. Both are male impersonators in late Victorian England.
  • Played with (and subverted) in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Secondary protagonist Bree is a six-foot-plus, strapping Scottish redhead who waltzes around in the 18th century in trousers—but only passes for a man if you're really not looking, and is goggled at, flirted with (with cracks about stepladders) and horrifies her father.
  • Many female fans were extremely pissed off to discover that Maladict from Monstrous Regiment is, in fact, a girl.
  • Jame from Chronicles of the Kencyrath is mistaken for a boy on a regular basis, is declared to be officially a boy in a fair few contexts throughout the books, and is mistaken constantly for her twin brother.
    • Subverted at one point in God Stalk: The courtesan Melissand—who's flirting with her at the time—is entirely aware that Jame is a girl, is amused that Jame thought otherwise, and doesn't particularly care.
  • Leisl in the Ravenloft novel Vampire of the Mists is a thief who dresses as a boy to survive better on the streets.
  • In "A Scandal in Bohemia," Irene Adler admits to Sherlock Holmes that she frequently dresses as a man to go out in public because of the freedom that male costume allows her. As shown in theatrical versions of the story, the result is apparently Bishonenesque.
  • In Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson, Kumiko muses that Molly greatly resembles the stereotype of the Japanese bishonen: "elegant, deadly and fey."
  • Kitai from Jim Butcher's Codex Alera, partly to do with the fact that she's an underage Marat with vaguely boyish features (until they come of age, Marat wear baggy tunics and aren't acknowledged to actually have any biological sex except in the academic sense). Tavi doesn't much care for her initially, because she was kind of hostile for little apparent reason, but once he realizes she's a girl, he starts to notice she's kind of pretty.
  • Tzigone, one of the central protagonists of Counselors and Kings, is a very slender and flat-chested young woman, and as she's a Master of Disguise she's quite practiced at tricking people into thinking she's male. She does female disguises too, though.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Jade Dimagiba/Yuan Sy from My Binondo Girl.
  • Shane from The L Word. And in Real Life, Kate Moennig, the actress who plays Shane. In fact, fans of the show often conflate the actress with her role, which is lampshaded in this tongue-in-cheek interview.
  • The Doctor Who character Romana (in both her incarnations) is at times, most notably in The Stones of Blood, The Horns of Nimon, and State of Decay.
    • Ace gets in on the act in Ghost Light, not only wearing a Victorian tux, but convincing her new friend Gwendoline to wear one too.
  • In Blackadder, poor, poor Bob.
  • In the original pilot for the Get Smart TV show, this was done with Agent 99. When Maxwell Smart first meets Agent 99, she has a pageboy haircut and is dressed in a not-very-flattering chauffeur's outfit. It takes Max most of the episode to realize that she's female.
    • Actually she comes off quite sexy and clearly female right from the start...but this is Max we're talking about.
  • Anjali Jay as Djaq in Robin Hood; the most stunningly beautiful "boy" you've ever seen.
  • The recurring skitcom character, "Pat" from Saturday Night Live was based on this trope. Played by a female actor (Julia Sweeny), nobody (including the audience) ever found out if Pat was male or female.
  • Marcy from Married... with Children was often accused of being a boy.
    • Ironically, in one of the final episodes of the series Amanda Bearse appeared as an expy of herself (a classic ladette). It was probably the most obviously female she'd appeared through the entire series.
  • A Cold Case episode entitled "Best Friends" featured the plot line of an androgynous young woman named Billie who catches the eye of the presumably-straight teenaged Rose in 1930s bootlegging America. Billie is killed as she and Rose attempt to run away from home and Rose's homophobic brother. Rose grows up to marry and have children, and never mentions Billie again, until those darn investigators bother her about it. She dredges up old love letters and poems, gets teary-eyed, and begs the suits to not say anything to anyone about her past.
  • A meta-example: An androgynous character in an episode of Bones is revealed to be male near the end of the episode. However, the character was played by a woman, so any audience members fooled by the episode's reveal would have this reaction when discovering the identity of the actress.
    • Also in the commentary it is mentioned that they filmed the ending (boy vs girl) both ways - so not even the actors themselves knew if she was supposed to be a male or female until it was edited together.
  • Franky Fitzgerald from the third generation of Skins.


Music[edit | hide]

  • The dancers in the video for "Blame It on the Girls" by Mika are half-Bifauxnen: their costumes and wigs make their right half look like a girl in a dress with a Bob Haircut, while the left half looks like a man in a tux with Beatles hair. See it here.
  • Elly Jackson of La Roux often invokes this.
  • Shirley Manson of Garbage dresses this way in the video for Androgyny. Seen here.
  • Hitomi Yoshizawa got this treatment during her earlier years with Hello! Project. It's especially obvious in this video.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Steam: Viola in Twelfth Night and Rosalind from As You Like It, both by Shakespeare. Interestingly, this means the trope is Zig Zagged since, in Shakespeare's time, males played all the roles...including the female ones. Thus, when these plays were first performed, you had guys playing girls that were pretending to be guys.
  • Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap." Miss Casewell's masculine appearance and voice is one of many misdirections Christie uses to keep her audience guessing.
  • Simultaneously expressed and inverted in productions of La Cage aux Folles: Traditionally, the chorus of the show is entirely men in drag except for one woman, who isn't revealed until the curtain call. The purpose is to keep the audience guessing which chorus member is the "real" woman, but it requires a performer who is (or can be made up to be) androgynous enough to be mistaken for a male crossdresser.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Sheik from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, though this is debatable because magic is involved). The fans are split in how far the transformation goes; mere clothing, hairdo and a more masculine shape or a complete gender transformation. Nintendo doesn't seem to care about such details and at most it's become humorous fodder whenever mentioned.
  • Bloodline Champions has the Nomad bloodline's Officer outfit. There's has cleavage on her, but otherwise looks very androgynous. There's a piercing under their lip which one could mistake for a soul patch.
  • King from The King of Fighters. She dressed as a man in the original Art of Fighting, due to an incident regarding her gender and childhood training in Muay Thai. In that game, she is presented as asexual (besides baring her bra if beaten with a super move), but future games acknowledge her true gender. She continues to dress is masculine clothing in all her later appearances, though; the closest concession to her actual gender, clothing-wise, is wearing a dress in her ending in The King of Fighters XI.
  • Another SNK example - Koujiro, the Sweet Polly Oliver/Half-Identical Twins of The Last Blade. Thanks to a gender-ambiguous name, her gender is debatable until her story-mode ending, when her supporting cast are relieved that she can go back to Staying In The Kitchen. Thankfully, she has other ideas.
  • Razzy, a major supporting character in the underrated game Summon Night: Swordcraft Story is very ambiguously gendered (To characters anyways, she's first introduced as another character's "niece"). In fact, throughout a good chunk of the game, the player character and various NPCs think that Razzy is a boy. One NPC even comments that Razzy will be a handsome man when he grows up. Coupled with this boyish look is that, out of the five available weapons in the game (sword, axe, spear, knuckles, and drills), Razzy uses knuckles. Also adding confusion is that it is hinted that (read:Immediately starts addressing you as Onee-Sama and directly wonders if two girls can get married), while playing as the female option, Pratty, Razzy will acquire a crush on you.
  • Hikaru of Power Instinct Matrimelee is a almost a parody of characters like Bridget from Guilty Gear (like many characters in the game). Her gender is so well hidden that nothing in the game itself actually mentions it, not even in her ending. The only way someone would be able to determine her true gender is from other documentation.
  • Faris, the pirate captain in Final Fantasy V, whom Bartz and Galuf swoon over before The Reveal.
    • This is what Amano originally drew her as. The SNES's graphics messed the twist up.
    • Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII generally doesn't qualify due to her obviously feminine appearance in the game... however, she later pose for a fashion magazine... men's fashion magazine, that is.
  • In Persona 4, one of the main characters, Naoto Shirogane, the masculine, pistol-wielding, uniform-wearing, amateur detective-turned high school student is a biological woman dressing as a man.
    • Disturbingly enough, Izanami's human form looks a lot like the Protagonist, despite being a woman, and looks even more boyish in the manga.
  • Wriggle Nightbug of Touhou, the only member of the massive cast with both short hair and pants, leading to a lot of Viewer Gender Confusion and subsequent jokes about other characters mistaking her for male.
    • Fujiwara no Mokou is very masculine in both appearance and mannerisms, however her Rapunzel Hair mostly excludes her from this trope.
    • Undefined Fantastic Object introduced Minamitsu (Motherfucking) Murasa, a boyish-looking ghost sailor, and Shou Toramaru, whose boyish name, appearance, and career caused more Viewer Gender Confusion.
    • It gets better: Ten Desires have Mononobe no Futo, who wears male onmyouji attire, and Toyosatomimi no Miko, who's based on a real male historical figure, with a hefty dose of masculine arrogance.
    • An obligatory PC-98 example, Meira from Story of Eastern Wonderland, whose demands to fight Reimu for her powers were mistaken for a proposal by Reimu... and accepted. Meira clarifying her gender didn't help.
  • Atelier Annie: Annie is practically the embodiment of this trope. Seriously, look at this and see what your reaction is... If the existing image wasn't so good, she'd be the banner girl for the trope. Of course the game itself wastes no time in poking fun at her for this, with several NPCs mistaking her for a boy at first glance.
  • In SaGa Frontier, Asellus is a girl who is mistaken for a man by a maid who made a suit for her, who develops a crush on her. According to a sourcebook, this (and Asellus's feelings for her companion, Lady White Rose) is due to the magical blood transfusion she got from the Charm Lord, a Dracula-type character. (It doesn't help that the Lord insisted that Asellus become the "Prince" (not princess) of his kingdom.)
  • From Infinite Undiscovery: Vic's true gender soon becomes fairly obvious, with several hints shortly after Vic joins your party.
  • Leo from Tekken 6. Short hair, check. Masculine name, check. Masculine outfit, big check (includes a white masculine tuxedo).
    • And since Leo has a deliberate Ambiguous Gender (to the extent that not even the developers know), it'd be a Bifauxnen if Leo was a girl, but a Bishonen if Leo was a boy! Argh!
    • Technically, it's been confirmed that "Leo" is a nickname, and specifically a shorter version of Leo's full name; [dead link] one thing to note is that the name "Eleonore" fits the stars in the picture.
    • Harada recently confirmed this to be true; Leo is a woman and her real name is Eleonora.
  • Chris in Princess Waltz. She not only dresses like a boy, and has the interest of all the girls; she was told she was supposed to be born a boy and plans to become one through magic. Even after she starts sleeping with the main character, her ultimate goal doesn't change. Somehow Chris' gender isn't obvious to Arata after the second chapter. No, not even after seeing her in the bath.
  • Halo: The "tough" type female Marines (voiced by Michelle Rodriguez), and Kat in Halo: Reach.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2.
    • Olga Gurlukovich. She has shorter hair than either male protagonist, wears masculine military clothes, and, at one point, a male character (admittedly, the resident Bishonen) is mistaken for her. She also pulls off a Samus Is a Girl as the Ninja.
    • The Boss also qualifies, given her harsh features, muscular body, and complete lack of adherence to Stripperiffic clothing (when you first meet her, she is wearing the exact same uniform as Snake, and she was the first person to use the sneaking suit). Arguablyly, having her hair unbound makes her look more masculine than when it is bound back (compare this picture to this one [dead link].
      • I wouldn't say that to her face, though.
    • Peace Walker has Strangelove, with her short hair and androgynous tailored clothes.
      • Though apparently Strangelove is a lesbian, and in love with The Boss, so I guess the look is playing into that stereotype.
  • Fate/stay night: Saber, having been stopped in her natural growth at around the age of fifteen, can and has posed as a man several times, although a very Bishonen man. However, it's also implied that she's been under a genuine Gender Bender spell at times in her backstory.
    • She dresses in more contemporary menswear in Fate/Zero, a sharp, formal black suit. Irisviel fixates on what a handsome protector Saber makes, and contemplates what a beautiful couple they make when she's escorted in public by her. Kiritsugu's partner Maiya also dresses rather austere and masculine, and keeps her hair short.
  • Perfect Dark: Joanna Dark in the original, less so in the XBLA rerelease.
  • Kumatora from Mother 3. A little kid mistakes her for a boy at one point.
  • Jill from Mighty Jill Off. Even more so in her appearance in Super Meat Boy.
  • Rei Ijuin, of Tokimeki Memorial 1, who has to pose as a boy in front of everybody due to a family custom, and this until her coming of age. It's a well-kept secret the Ijuin family zealously protects, to the point that even her little sister Mei doesn't know she's actually a girl!
  • Jess from Advance Wars has a buzzcut and wears a military uniform with pants. If not for her name and some *slight* bumps in the chest region, she'd be indistinguishable from a male. The second game enhances this effect my making her carry around a somewhat phallic-looking tank shell.
  • Ione of Vanguard Bandits is more than a little manly in appearance to the player. This doesn't stop The Hero from complimenting her beauty anyway.
  • Until her more feminine design inNuts & Bolts, Kazooie.
  • Miyako Yakumo from Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5. She looks completely like a boy, dresses like one, fights like one and has an ambiguous voice to boot. You only realize she's female after you find out she's the Black Dragon Priestess...


Visual Novels[edit | hide]


Web Comics[edit | hide]

Phani: "Had she the look of a real woman, she sould have been more lucky in love."
Zala: "Do not mock her so. It is not her fault if she looks like a man... a very pretty man."


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Cybersix: The title character's secret identity involves wearing glasses, recombing her hair and dressing as an english teacher named Adrian (she fools everyone). She dresses in much looser clothes which hide her...impressive figure and speaks in a lower voice.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Smellerbee. Notably, in her first appearance she appears to be a straight use of Cross-Dressing Voices which is quite unusual for the show, and it's not until she comes back a year later that her gender is revealed. She still gets offended when people think she's a boy, though.
  • Mulan. Pretty as a girl, she passes for a feminine looking boy.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Sally Acorn is an unintentional example She is pretty much one of the only female characters in the entire franchise to dress in the same manner as the males.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Canadian model Eve Salvail.
  • Julie d'Aubigny, "La Maupin" was a 17th century duellist and opera singer. She was raised by her father, who taught her to fence. At age 15, she seduced his employer, the Comte d'Armagnac. At 18, she escaped Paris with a young man and ended up in Marseille, where she earned money by fencing (in male clothes) and started to study singing at a music academy. She then tired of her beau and seduced a nun. This resulted in a trial (in absentia) where sieur d'Aubigny (mentioning her true gender was a bit too scandalous) was condemned for kidnapping a novice, body snatching, setting fire to the convent, and failing to appear before the tribunal. She was lated pardoned by the king and left Paris again, at the age of twenty, where she was hired by the Paris Opera as one of the first mezzosopranos. She then stayed in Paris except for a short trip to Brussels to escape the law (she had broken the duel edict when fighting for a pretty girl she met at a royal ball). In Brussels she had a affair with Maximilian Emanuel, the Elector of Bavaria (one of the German princes of the Holy Roman Empire). She came back when the king pardoned her (yes, again). She died in 1702.
  • Female crossplayers are a particular real-life version of this trope, as groups will often pick their most masculine-looking female friends to cosplay Bishounen characters. This will often lead to bizarre situations occurring at Anime conventions, though people have generally learned not to question the gender of those entering bathrooms.
    • There's an entire group of Pirates of the Caribbean cosplayers, who do all of the main characters and most of the minor ones. Only one of the Sparrows, the Norrington, and the Barbossa are male.
    • Pikmin Link, among the very best Link cosplayers in existence. Very nearly everyone is surprised to find that she is female.
    • Russian cosplayer Selfoblivion makes an uncanny Jared Leto.
  • k.d. Lang
  • Grace Jones.
  • "Otokoyaku" (boy role) actresses in Takarazuka. Often leading to copious amounts of Even the Girls Want Her.
  • Katie Sketch, lead singer of the Organ.
  • Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler. Often the only thing gave it away was her affinity for wearing dresses on stage (and even then mostly for shock value) during Black Flag concerts.
  • Kim and Kelley Deal. Wearing lumberjack shirts and smoking like chimneys hasn't helped.
  • Many Victorian actresses and comediennes—notably Vesta Tilley—made a career out of this. For others, it was the only acceptable way beyond a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship they could actually get out there and enjoy a romantic relationship with whoever they wanted.
  • Annie Lennox, especially during the height of The Eighties androgynous phase.
  • Tilda Swinton. Oh dear lord, Tilda Swinton.
  • Li Yuchun (also known as Chris Lee), a Chinese singer.
  • La Roux singer Elly Jackson. Yes, she's not the only person involved.
  • King of Poland Jadwiga of Anjou, also venerated by Catholics as Saint Hedwig.
  • Princess Aisin Goro Xianyu of Manchuria, aka Yoshiko Kawashima.
  • There's the story of Pope Joan, who was supposedly only revealed when she gave birth. Of course, the story didn't show up until several centuries after it supposedly happened and most historians now agree it was a myth.
  • Radclyffe Hall, an early twentieth century lesbian writer.
  • Spanish ex-nun and later swordsman and crossdresser Catalina de Erauzo, known as "la monja Alferez" ("The Ensign Nun").
  • Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl. She also has a deep voice similar to the aformentioned Annie Lennox.
  • Hatshepsut, Pharaoh. She reigned over ancient Egypt from 1479 to 1458 BC. While women had a reasonably high status at the time and female Pharaohs were not uncalled for, she particularly enjoyed being depicted in traditionally male king's attire, complete with fake beard. This was likely to show off her power.
  • Pop singer/rapper Amber Liu of the Korean girl group f(x), whose androgynous image has resulted in lots of Even the Girls Want Her among the group's female fans. Look at her in this music video. I dare you to think otherwise.
  • Supermodel Omahyra Mota.
  • Chinese musician Jade Liu.
  • R&B Singer Amanda Perez.
  • Lindsay Lohan's former lover, Samantha Ronson.
  • JD Samson, in a quite attractive way.
  • Actress and bodybuilder Skyler Cooper.
  • This gorgeous, Danish Butch Lesbian. She's one of the contestants in the Danish version of X-Factor.
  • At first, Darya Melnikova of Daddy's Daughters took the Tomboy aesthetic well into Bifauxnen territory [dead link], but lately She's All Grown Up and She Cleans Up Nicely.
  • Danish model Freja Beha Erichson, who embodies androgyny. (Link not worksafe.)
  • Daniela Sea, actress and musician. Portrayed Max, a transman, on The L Word.
  • Rachel Maddow: On TV she looks pretty feminine but we know that's all for the cameras [1]
  • Janelle Monae, the genre-blurring Genki Girl singer, is rarely seen without her proper tux and a white starched shirt. It also helps her bifauxnen image that she has what can only be described as "epic hair."
  • Mitsuki Saiga, whose deep voice means the female characters she voices also tend to be Bifauxnens as well.
  • America's Got Talent contestent Dani Shay, who is notable for bearing an uncanny physical and vocal resemblance to Justin Bieber.
  • Supermodel Jenny Shimizu, who had relationships with, among others, Angelina Jolie, Rebecca Loos, and allegedly, Madonna.
  • Sinead O'Connor, who is also openly lesbian.
  • Taiwanese singer Zhang Yun Jing, known for her androgynous image. She has been described as both "handsome" and "beautiful". Even the Girls Want Her, as her a large part of her fandom is comprised of females who take great pleasure in squee-ing over her various attractive features, masculine or feminine.