No Biological Sex
"I am an immortal entity with a large cue ball for a head, and no biological means of reproduction."—Doc Scratch, Homestuck
Whenever a character has no genitals or secondary sex characteristics. They may identify with a specific gender for reasons other than the physical, or they may identify as something else entirely. This is frequently a trait of spirits and spiritual beings, who don't have physical bodies in the first place.
Compare Ambiguous Gender, when the character does have a physical sex but the viewers/readers simply don't know what it is, and Barbie Doll Anatomy, when the body parts in question are presumably meant to be there but are not drawn for censorship reasons. Also compare Purely Aesthetic Gender when the gender of a video game character is completely irrelevant so that they might as well have No Biological Sex as far as the plot is concerned. Finally, Intersex people have sexual characteristics, but they may be ambiguous or mixed, not fitting into either sex category. Characters like this sometimes run into Pronoun Trouble if they don't identify with a specific gender, so "it" may be used as a third option.
Note that due to a lack of alternate phrases in the English language, referring to a character as "sexless" does not mean that they're Asexual, which instead deals with sexual orientation and attraction, nor does it mean that a character does not or cannot have sex. If Everybody Wants the Hermaphrodite is in effect they may in fact have a very active sex life.
- CLAMP seems to like this trope.
- Ashura in RG Veda is explicitly said to have no physical sex as part of a curse to end the line of the Ashura clan with him/her.
- In X 1999, Nataku is similarly sexless as a result of cloning. It's implied that his inner self is female in the manga after the person he was originally cloned from, who was a little girl named Kazuki.
- In Wish, the angels, particularly the lead Kohaku, are supposed to be sexless. However, Tokyopop ended up referring the character with female pronouns, leading readers to assume the character was a girl.
- Ruby Moon from Cardcaptor Sakura is explicitly sexless, a point raised when Spinel comments on Ruby Moon's decision to wear female clothing.
- Hana from Gate 7 is at least implied to be sexless - Sakura calls into question whether or not Hana is female, and then, in response to Chikahito's confusion, neither confirms Hana's masculinity nor offers any form of clarification.
- A Shrug of God has also hinted that the Zashiki Warashi from xxxHolic may not necessarily be either male or female, playing off old portrayals of the spirits in mythology and artwork, where their gender was often unclear.
- In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, the true form of Envy is a large lizard-like thing with the head and shoulders of the people of Xerxes sticking out. It doesn't seem to have... parts of any sort. Picture here, if you're brave enough to see, and his/her/its TRUE true form is what can best be described as a fetus.
- Wagaya no Oinari-sama.'s Kuugen is a Kitsune and too old to remember his/her original sex, if he/she ever had one, and just switches between male and female forms on a whim. Justified in that Kitsune are spirits in the first place, and tied to the kami Inari (see below).
- The Shinigami of Death Note do identify themselves as male or female (meaning that they do in fact have genders), but it is clearly stated that they cannot have sexual relations of any kind, and odds are that they don't have any sexual organs, and even if they do they're most likely non-functional.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Kyubey. Fans generally refer to it as male, but it really doesn't seem to be either one, being a Starfish Alien whose true form is hinted to be something entirely different than what we see on screen.
- Digimon are technically sexless, being mere data, but their manifestations often take the form of specific creatures with genders for purely aesthetic reasons, something Renamon explains to Ruki. Either way, they do not reproduce sexually.
- Namekians in Dragon Ball are often assumed to be all male, but their method of reproduction places pretty firmly them into this category.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Metatron, the Voice of God, in Dogma. And all the other angels, though it's implied that they did have physical sexes at one point before God gave them the physiques of Ken dolls as punishment. And Serendipity.
- Eli from Let the Right One In identifies as a girl in the present, but she's physically sexless and was originally male before his genitals were cut off.
- Satan in The Passion of the Christ is portrayed by a woman with a shaved head and a voice altered to sound more masculine in post-production. This fits in with Thomas Aquinas' writings, which specifically refer to angels, of which Satan is a (fallen) one as being pure spirits, and therefore not possessing a physical sex (see below).
- Many angels in religion and mythology. There was a controversy about that...
- YHWH technically doesn't have or need a physical sex. Being an unfathomable entity, this is a given. In the past, God has been arbitrarily assigned male gender nouns and pronouns because 'It' seems disrespectful and His people were originally patriarchal. However, feminine nouns are sometimes used in Jewish religious literature when God is credited with female gender characteristics such as nurturing and tenderness. The ancient Hebrews even used plural words for God sometimes, while Christians are much more likely than Jews or Muslims to think of God as male because He got a woman pregnant and sired a male who was also Himself, in a way, depending on which Christian sect you ask.
- The Prince of Egypt references the Jewish tradition of female pronouns being used to refer to God in some instances by having God as the burning bush speak with a primarily male voice (provided by Val Kilmer) with a whispery female voice layered into it.
- Inari Okami, the Shinto God of fertility, rice, agriculture, foxes, industry and worldly success, is generally considered to be neither male nor female, though like YHWH, masculine or feminine aspects are often emphasized depending on the context and the region. This is true for many other Kami as well.
Literature[edit | hide]
- Greg Egan's Diaspora features a society of posthuman software people who rarely choose to be gendered, along with invented gender-neutral pronouns (ve, vis and ver) first used in Distress, where meat-humans sometimes elect to become 'asex'. (Some others crank their secondary sexual characteristics Up to Eleven, and become 'umale' and 'ufem'). Schild's Ladder features essentially genderless posthumans but retains both male and female pronouns.
- Carolyn Ives Gilman's Halfway Human: On Gammadis, the modified-human inhabitants have no sex until puberty. Some people never go through puberty and remain unsexed all their lives, being known as "blands." They are considered to be not fully human, are widely believed to be mentally deficient, live segregated, and work as servants.
- Sebrahn, from Nightrunner.
- In Good Omens, being of angelic stock are specifically mentioned as this 'unless they really want to make an effort', the phrasing of which has led to Unusual Euphemisms among the fandom.
- Comes part and parcel along with Easy Sex Change in John Varley's Eight Worlds science fiction novels. Some people will always pick "none of the above" if given the chance to choose. For some it's permanent, for others it's temporary. One character describes it as a "vacation from sexuality."
- Golems on Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Most are referred to with male pronouns, for the usual reasons. In Going Postal one was arbitrarily declared female (and named Gladys) because Ms Macclariat took exception to anything called "he" cleaning the lady's bathrooms. When questioned about this in Making Money, Moist points out that the 'default' golems aren't any more male than Gladys is female.
- Very scary example from Dean Koontz' The Bad Place: the villain (child of a Hermaphrodite with him/herself) has four undescended testicles (with a bony shelf in the way) and no external genitalia. He channels his necessarily-repressed sexuality into homicidal rages.
- The Ainur of JRR Tolkien's works. As pure spirits, they have no biological sex beyond that of whatever form they've taken at the time, but explicitly do have gender identities (or at least, identify themselves in a way comparable to mortal gender). Still, it would probably be better to call them masculine and feminine rather than male and female.
- Similarly, in C. S. Lewis's Space Trilogy, the Oyarsa (basically guardian angels, Earth's being Lucifer) of Mars and Venus can be described as masculine and feminine, respectively, but only because these genders arose from intelligent life imitating them. The other Oyarsas do not conform to either, but each have their own genders.
- The trope is lampshaded in the original book of The Brave Little Toaster in regards to its title character. The movie never outright addresses the question of gender, and occasionally uses masculine pronouns for the toaster, but the toaster's sex, at least, can be assumed to be neutral.
- The Gethenians from The Left Hand of Darkness have no sex for most of the time, except for a few days each month when they go into kemmer and become male or female, returning to androgyny afterwards. The sex during kemmer can change from month to month—a father of one child could be the mother of another.
- Xantcha from the Magic: The Gathering novel Planeswalker. The Phyrexian Newts were created to resemble humans, but the first generation was defective in certain aspects, including lacking a physical sex. Mentally, Xantcha began thinking of herself as female after she was Mind Raped by the male demon Gix.
- Yime Nsokyi from The Culture novel Surface Detail has deliberately had herself neutered. However as everyone seems to identify her as female and the narration always does the same it seems the purpose was more to eliminate sexuality than anything else.
- Chieri, the dominant native race of Darkover are hermaphroditic but some of their hybrid offspring with humans are 'emmasca' or neuter.
- In the Feline Wizards series, spayed and neutered cats are considered to be the same gender, and not the same as toms or queens.
- In Time Scout, Armstrong is a character with an ambiguous sexual identity. He could be a feminine man. She could be a masculine woman. She never identifies as either and he can pass for either. His hair is cut short, she wears wigs, and long-necked clothing eliminates the possibility of seeing an adam's apple.
- The Mrdini of Anne McCaffrey's Talents series lack sexes altogether, and prefer to be referred to by the pronoun "it". While they do require two individuals to reproduce, any two individuals will do.
- Kyree, an intelligent wolf-like species in the Heralds of Valdemar Verse, can be male, female, or neuter. Since the neuters lack reproductive responsibilities to the pack they tend to be the ones that go out and have adventures, and are therefore most often encountered by others. The most prominent kyree character, Warrl, is referred to as male, with occasional notes that this isn't technically accurate.
- Warforged from the Dungeons & Dragons Eberron campaign setting are sexless. They may have a gender identity, but given that they have no biological basis for it, they generally either go along with whatever those around them label them, or just pick whichever feels right. While Changelings have a "natural" sex, they are able to take a sexless form, and it is pointless outside of high level magic and the Dropped a Bridget On Him that leads to Fantastic Racism.
- Angels and demons in In Nomine are technically neuter, although many that spend time on Earth end up acquiring a gender-bias, depending on which sex of vessel they most often have. Elohim don't acquire such biases (they are by nature supposed to avoid bias) and Kyriotates and Shedim switch bodies so often they usually don't imprint on any one gender.
- Orks in Warhammer 40,000 are sentient fungi and have no gender. They act extremely male, however.
- Gods in Exalted have whatever gender (if any) that most suits their nature, and can generally carry children or impregnate others regardless (although some may temporarily change their sexual characteristics to accommodate it). Demons are apparently more strictly codified.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Most Pokémon in Generation II and beyond have sexes, but some do not. Some of the sexless Pokémon can breed with a shapeshifting Ditto, and some legendary Pokémon with genders cannot breed (Latios, Latias, Cresselia, Heatran). Certain legendaries, such as Mewtwo, Rayquaza, the Kanto birds, and the Sinnoh and Unova dragon trios have neither sex nor breeding capacity. This last group fits this trope.
- Manaphy is sexless, yet it is capable of producing offspring - Phione, who is also sexless and unable to evolve into Manaphy.
- Comparable to the above examples, the Naaru of World of Warcraft. They get referred to with male pronouns because calling them 'it' would be insulting, but not being even humanoid, the few we've seen appear entirely sexless.
- Some fans have said this about NiGHTS. Others say that it's a case of Ambiguous Gender. It doesn't help that Sonic Team never really gave a straight answer. In Nights: Journey of Dreams, Nights was given a voice actress whom sounded both like a young boy and a slightly older girl at the same time. But it's basically up to the dreamer and the player as to what gender, if any, Nights is.
- In Choice of Dragon when given the choice of gender, you can choose neither, unknown, or simply refuse to answer.
- The Chao creatures in Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Furcadia allows you to make characters who are 'neuter', in addition to the standard males and females, who have their own portraits. All three sex options use the same sprites.
- Cloud of Darkness, as seen in Final Fantasy III and Dissidia Final Fantasy, appears female (particularly in the latter) and is referred to with female pronouns... but as the name implies, she's just the physical form of a literal cloud of darkness, and actually refers to herself with "We", apparently including sentient tentacles in that. Therefore, she can't be said to be female.
- The two requisite wise mystic thingies in the Ecco the Dolphin series, the Asterite and the Guardian, are a sexless giant strand of DNA and genderless giant psychic crystal, respectively.
- In the Konami series Parodius, the scoreboard asks your sex. They're prepared for boys, girls, everything inbetween AND everything neither here nor there.
- Similarly, the early Ultima games had sex and gender on a slider, so you could be male, female, or anywhere between the two.
- Forgotten beasts, titans, plump helmet men, and inorganic creatures (fire men, magma men, bronze colossi, magma crabs...) in Dwarf Fortress. Yes, several of those have "man" in their names. Deal with it.
- The Super Mario Bros. series has the Yoshis, all of which have No Biological Sex. And yet despite this, they lay eggs. Don't think too hard about this.
- Aigis, of Persona3, is an android. She identifies as female, however. As the protagonist bonds with her, she becomes increasingly troubled by her feelings of love for him, and the fact that she is biologically incapable of sex. It should be noted that she has this problem even when the protagonist is female.
- Xion of Kingdom Hearts has no biological sex according to Word of God but also identifies as female. And she looks female, for the most part. Though it really depends on who's looking at her. She eventually turns out to be a sexless doll, meant to drain the male main character's personality and memories.
- Fi of Skyward Sword, according to Word of God, is a feminine figure, but doesn't really have a sex per se. Fitting, since she's a sword.
- Many of the viral monsters in Prototype are sexless - Hunters are built to fight, not reproduce, for instance, and that extends to the Supreme Hunter despite it being humanoid (sometimes extremely humanoid). This also extends to the player character, Alex Mercer, who seems to identify as male, but is technically just a person-shaped virus and a shapeshifter with no truly fixed form or means of sexual reproduction. The Blackwatch persistently refer to him as "it".
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- Sanyiel from Hero in Training has no physical sex, although he passes for male. This becomes a bit of a complication when he gets a girlfriend...
- Some of the mutated dogs in Wurr, most notably Iralbe and Riega, have no genitalia and are known as 'whispering ones'. Most of them still use male pronouns for simplicity's sake.
- In Homestuck, Doc Scratch says, "I am an immortal entity with a large cue ball for a head, and no biological means of reproduction."
- The biogolems created by the Val'Jaal'darya clan in Drowtales do not technically have a physical sex, and are thus all sterile, meaning that they're not technically even a speices. Most of them appear externally female, but that's more Author Appeal on the part of the Jaal since they're clan that Does Not Like Men. Despite this, Sata, one biogolem, is referred to using male pronouns by the author.
- Done on the Disney show Lloyd in Space, where one episode featured an alien with no sex. It gains one once it hits alien puberty.
- GIR, from Invader Zim. But "he" is still referred to as a he... otherwise it would be confusing.
- This also appears to be the case with Irkens, though they do have genders.
- Transformers are robots and as such have no sexes to speak of, although male seems to be the default where pronouns are concerned.
- WALL-E and EVE are canonically without sexes, as are the other robots. The implication of the love scenes is that WALL-E is projecting the gender identities he saw in "Hello Dolly".
- In Futurama the characters once met a rock alien whose species has only one sex (neuchachos). Finding the concept of physical sex incomprehensible, he administers a series of tests to see which one was best, eventually deciding that gender only causes division, so he takes away their sexual characteristics. In their neutral state, they find peace and harmony... until they realize they can't have sex ever again and demand their genitals back.
- While a lack of genitals is generally considered a deformity, the neutrois community (which covers several nonstandard gender identities) sometimes considers it an aesthetic ideal.
- Agender people are similar to neutrois but are not tied to a specific body type, and they identify as having no gender whatsoever, rather than a neutral one as neutrois people do.
- due to the fact that gender is an identity and may or may not match up to one's physical body
- No, we're not renaming this trope again
- That's not My Friends and Zoidberg, Serendipity is in fact a muse, not an angel.