Gender bender is an informal term used to refer to a person who actively transgresses, or "bends," expected gender roles. Boy George is called a "gender bender" because of his tendency to wear make-up and clothes perceived as feminine. Gender bending is a form of social activism 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. Others may identify as Two-Spirit or members of a third gender.
Fiction and art Edit
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. 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.
A work of art which challenges gender roles or features gender bending or transgender characters may itself be referred to as a "gender bender."
A historical and well-studied example of "gender bending" in English narrative is Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.