Edit: This post was edited for quality and clarity purposes on 6/13/2020.
Starting from the top and heading right into the main question, what is TG? At its most obvious level, TG is an abbreviation for transgender, a term that refers to a person whose gender differs from their sex determined at birth. However, when I talk about TG media, art, games, or content in general, that’s not what I am talking about. Instead, a more accurate descriptor for TG, as it is used in places I am well versed in, can be found in the Japanese equivalent of the term, TSF. An abbreviation of Trans-Sexual Fiction or Trans-Sexual Fantasy.
Or in other words, TG refers to content that has a character undergoes a change in sex through some fictitious or fantastical means, with the ensuing narrative, assuming there is one beyond the initial transformation, centering on how they adapt to this new situation. It is a fairly simple concept that has been around for a very long time and over the past few decades, it has become home to an assortment of tropes and subsets that allow this fairly straightforward idea to be employed in a wide variety of creative ways.
For example, it is common to see TG paired with some sort of transformation that alters more than just a character’s sex, often turning them into entirely different characters physically through a process that is commonly referred to as TF, which is simply an abbreviation for Transformation. Transformation is seen as the default method of TG and some view TG as being inherently related to the act of transformation, but I, and most others from what I can gather, view TG with a broader definition that applies to anything that results in a character winding up with a different sex than the one they had initially. Whether it be through a body swap, possession, a bodysuit, really anything that results in a man being placed in control of a woman’s body and vice versa.
While the methods can differ, so too can the details of this change, as it is not uncommon to see elements such as age progression, age regression, race change, mental changes, and realistically whatever somebody can think to pile up on top of the TG method, and that flexibility is part of the reason why I personally find the concept to be so endearing. The idea of TG in itself is fluid, it can be applied across a wide variety of genres, and there is no true limit to how one can go about applying this concept. Whether it be in the form of a comedy, tragedy, a coming of age story, a zany fantastical adventure, a dark introspective drama, a work of body horror, a piece of social commentary, or anything else that I could list off the top of my head.
In addition to TG, there’s also Rule 63, an internet-era adage stating that: “For every given male character, there is a female version of that character. For every given female character, there is a male version of that character.” This is in reference to how fan artists tend to like drawing just that, and so long as a character is not super obscure, somebody probably has drawn a character as the opposite sex. I bring it up because it often gets lumped together with TG, but whereas TG refers to instances where a change of some sorts happened, Rule 63 is more of a reimagining of one or more existing characters as the opposite gender and sex. While there does exist a very real distinction between the two, I have regularly seen TG and Rule 63 viewed as synonymous, as they are both loosely defined terms and seem similar enough.
Although, TG is synonymous with gender bending and gender swapping, both of which I rarely use from using as they are more antiquated terms dating back to when gender and sex were seen as interchangeable. To continue laying down the definitions, gender refers to what a person mentally identifies as and how they wish to be viewed by society. Whether that be male, female, or something that goes against the traditional binary options. Sex refers to a person’s physical state and is determined by their reproductive or sexual organs.
Minor tangent aside, that’s what TG is and its many permutations, but why exactly do some people find it so fascinating? Well for a lot of people, it is a fetish. Some people find the idea of themselves of someone else turning into a woman or man to be arousing. Some find the idea of a man being turned into a woman and then being made submissive via sex to be the hottest shit. Some find it to be a form of escapism. Some simply find a certain, and often innocent, novelty in the concept and consider it to be interesting, cool, cute, et cetera. While others, well, others are just transgender people who find the concept of transexual fantasies to be captivating.
Which brings up a major discussion point. Is TG inherently related to modern transgender subject matter? To a degree, I would say that, yes, they are related. The scenario depicted in many pieces of TG media can also be considered fantasies for many transgender people, and it is not uncommon to see transgender TG content creators. Transgender people, generally speaking, want to change their primary and secondary sexual characteristics to better match that of sex that differs from the one they were born with. In real life, this is done through hormone replacement therapy, surgical alteration of genitals and by extension sex, and the surgical alteration of secondary sexual characteristics in the form of breast implants, breast reduction, facial reconstruction surgery, or permanent hair removal. But in TG Media, this is achieved rapidly through fantastical means and with results that are significantly more thorough than what modern medical science can achieve.
So yes, they are related conceptually, mostly due to how the majority of transgender people want to be transsexual, and TG is, as I stated earlier, based on transexual fantasy. However, there also exist subsets who believe these two should not mingle. The first group being people who like TG but do not want transgender themes in TG content. A subset of who could be innocently described as wanting a form of escapism for them to not involve what they consider to be a “political issue,” but in my experience, most of them are just bigoted towards transgender people and want their fetish to remain untainted. Even though the divide between TG and transgenderism is ultimately up to the creator of the content, and not all content must cater to a specific audience.
Meanwhile, the second group is on the opposite extreme, believing that TG material is inherently transphobic and should not simplify or fetishize the idea of gender transition. While I can see where this idea is coming from, it always struck me as being a very reactionary and oversimplifying assumption that also evokes a mindset that just because something is “problematic” it does not deserve to exist, which I strongly disagree with. I will say that, yes, some TG material can be transphobic, disrespectful, and make light of real transgender issues. But so long as it does not actively encourage hateful rhetoric and actions, I think it’s fine. As the old adage goes, freedom of speech is totally rad, but you can’t really fall back on that when you’re spouting about imaginary fires in crowded theaters or rallying for the extermination of a race. Or something like that.
So, I’ve probably ruffled some feathers, but I think that covers the major points surrounding TG, aside from the question of why exactly I’m so gosh darn into it. Well, my history with the subject starts from a very young age, when I was fascinated with the idea of possession, body swapping, and instances where a male character gained a female body through some means. This eventually led to me searching and scouring the internet for TG content when I entered my teens, quickly developing a fetish for the stuff. For the ensuing years, it was a regular interest of mine, and I would routinely look for TG art, stories, and various stuff, both for the sake of hoarding them in the form of a nice little collection and to serve as masturbatory aids. In doing this, I developed an appreciation for the narrative applications and the fine details of TG content and appreciating its narrative applications, in addition to the artistry and skill that went into creating much of said content.
An appreciation that was at least partially born from fatigue with just how damn bad or just formulaic some TG content can be. The basic template for so much of TG content involves a fairly average male turning into an attractive female, stumbling into a situation wherein they have sex, fall in love with their new body, and wind up becoming a big old slut. While stuff like that, and poorly drawn or poorly written content, are positively abundant, there still exists a hefty amount of good content out there. Whether it be in the form of excellent artists who explore this concept visually, talented writers who use the concept of TG to tell interesting stories, or, as seems to be particularly prevalent, comic artists who combine the strengths of both mediums.
It is this quality, which is honestly really hard to spot from afar, that has kept me interested in TG as time goes on. Even after I stopped masturbating, started contemplating my own gender, began my own male to female gender transition, and started presenting myself as female, I am still enamored with this stuff, and after being neck-deep in it for over a decade at this point, I honestly don’t see myself getting sick of it.
That’s the long and short of it anyways, but having talked so much about TG content, I guess now would be as good a time as any to highlight some of my personal favorite examples, though it mostly spans to comics, or more specifically, Japanese doujin comics. This is due to how I feel TG benefits a lot from a visual medium, and comics are the most cost-effective means of storytelling in a visual medium. There’s also the fact that while I know there is a lot of good written TG content, it is far harder to snuff out quality, more time consuming to go through, and whenever I am reading TG stories, I feel like I should be writing my own novels or short stories, which often have TG as a central element of the narrative.
Also, most of these are NSFW, 18+, and generally only for people who can handle some nudity and sexual content, because a large portion of TG context is sexual or pornographic in some way. What can I say? A lot of good TG content also happens to be incredibly lewd.
A Girl In My Dreams by Sizzkun and BurntWitch:
Starting with an oldie but a goodie, this is one of the first TG comics I ever stumbled onto, and it is a 52-part psychological drama following a student as they undergo a gradual transformation into a mysterious woman they see in their dreams. With the ensuing narrative following a tumultuous downfall of the protagonist as they struggle to maintain their sense of identity amidst these unwanted changes. It is a bit of a rough story, with art that is often left unfinished, and an iffy conclusion born from disagreements between its two creators but I still go back to it for its execution, its steady decline in the protagonist as their identity degrades and their relationship with those around them changes.
Turned into a Breast Milk Fountain by a Beautiful Vampire by Kouji:
One of the more interesting parts of TG to me is the idea of gradual acceptance, of having a character reject and fight back against their new sex, while gradually coming to terms with reality and adapting to this new situation. Japanese artist Eroe actually made a great picture depicting the versatility of this concept, but one of my favorite slow burns comes from this comic here, which follows a vampire hunter who is turned into a food source for a vampire. A fate the hunter finds to be worse than death, but despite his attempts at suicide, he gradually comes to accept his new position in life, and even develops a form of Stockholm syndrome that manifests itself in what might be my favorite example of identity death in fiction. Also, yes, the title does sound like a machine-generated name for a video on a porn site.
Nozomu Nozomi by Nagatsuki Misoka:
Puberty is a pretty weird time for just about anyone, as it is a time where bodies start maturing at a steady rate and the differences between men and women become more pronounced. Which begs the question as to why this isn’t a focal point for more TG stories, like Nozomu Nozomi. A 15 chapter manga series that follows an androgynous boy whose body gradually begins undergoing female puberty, with the ensuing story following the protagonist’s acceptance of this gradual change while questioning their own greater sense of identity. Concept aside, it is a cute, silly, light-hearted story with a sense of innocence to it that benefits greatly from the whole puberty angle, and like just about every Change H series, it’s surprisingly trans positive.
Trans Venus by Tamaki Hisao:
This can loosely be described as an ecchi parody of Birdy The Mighty, as it follows the standard average high school male protagonist whose body becomes a vessel for an intergalactic space vixen who effectively uses the boy as her plaything, stealing and morphing his body for herself to fight other aliens and turning them into a girl for funsies. It’s an odd tale that could have just been a dismissible loose H-manga. But the story goes to a surprising number of places in its two-volume run and shapes up into a positively wild sci-fi action series with a good sense of humor and sexual content so goofy and outlandish that it manages to feel well incorporated into the overall story, unlike the typical dime-a-dozen TG hentai. Plus, this story and its character dynamics did have a fairly substantial amount of influence in a number of stories I’ve written, namely The Malice of Abigale Quinlan, so I have something of a sort spot for this little rag.
Seitenkango. Shinyuu to by Eroe:
The story of a hot-blooded guy, a man among men, undergoing a transformation into a significantly weaker and more submissive woman, and coming to terms with their new body and love of men is one of the most common tropes in TG media. Hell, that’s the plot of Glory of the Self-Styled Diehard Girl. But any story can be made interesting if given enough time and attention, and that is precisely what this specimen here does, depicting the gradual transformation of its protagonist as their body and mind become increasingly feminine and their former best friend becomes their darling boyfriend. It’s well-paced, entertaining, and while it does take a number of artistic shortcuts, the sheer length and detail present throughout the story make it one of the best straight-forward TG stories I have ever gone through… even if it’s sexual content is pretty darn high.
Out of Placers by Valsalia:
So, I’ve talked about a lot of TG stories so far that are TG stories front and center, but this is something of a more subtle affair. Out of Placers is an ongoing western fantasy comic set in a startling detailed world filled with a plethora of endearing characters that just happens to center around a human male who is transformed into a weird rat bird thing called a Yinglet, and a female one at that. One part of the story is about the protagonist coping with their changed form, along with the numerous challenges and opportunities it brings, resulting in a somewhat slow yet nevertheless intriguing tale rife with passion from its sole creator, making it one of the few ongoing comics I still have the attention and drive to read each… whenever it’s updated. Or if that doesn’t sound interesting, the author also makes a Skyrim parody comic following the exploits of the Dragonborn after they were transformed into a sultry reptile lady, and despite sounding like a one-off joke, the story is currently going in some interesting places.
This is something that will only appeal to a super niche audience who like stories wherein people who are treated like absolute trash seek malicious and callous revenge by stealing the lives and identities of others, are down with comics made using 3D anime-styled character models, and have a soft spot for machine-translated “Engrish”. I will not say that Loggerzed’s work is especially good, but it still remains rather fascinating to me is how all of the elements that make up any one of his comic series blends together. The bizarre sense of morals, the often absurd scenarios, the inherent goofiness that arises when you machine-translate serious subject matter, and the amount of detail put into the character models. It all sounds juxtaposed and kind of stilted, but there’s a certain something here that I find both inspiring and delightful, even if it can be really messed up.
Considering how often I use his work for Rundown headers, and how he drew my avatar, it should come as no surprise that I’m quite fond of ONAT, and I do think that he is one of the best TG or TSF artists out there. Seeing his continued artistic evolution over the years has been a treat, and in that time he has found a very expressive style that is all his own rife with a sense of playfulness when it comes to really any kind of TG, general transformation, or attribute swap. The only real bad thing I could say about his work is that he gravitates towards his preferences a bit too much, something that becomes very apparent when flipping through a year of his art, and that his work is embarrassingly unorganized. It’s all tossed between his Twitter, Patreon, Deviantart, and Pixiv to the point where it is hard to find everything, let alone sort between TG content and the assorted fetish nonsense like this, and that, and also this one I requested because I’m weird like that.
Ian C Samson:
Ian Samson is part of the old guard when it comes to TG art, as he has been making TG art and stories for a solid decade now, and his work retains a continuously high level of quality in regards to the art, storytelling, and general weirdness factor. Such as the comic where Link turns into a Gerudo before the whole Gerudo Link thing took off. Or the Pokemon comic where Ash is turned into a Gardevoir and has 30 children before being captured by some kid who thinks he’s a Scyther. Or any of the other novel, interesting, or overall cool concepts he has played with over the years. Much like with ONAT, the only bad thing I can say is that his output has considerably dropped in recent years, which is a bit unfortunate given how talented he is. His work is also a bit scattered across his old gallery, Deviantart, Twitter, and Tumblr, because apparently keeping all of one’s art unified under a single platform is quite the challenge.
Press-Switch and Student Transfer:
This should be obvious considering how I reviewed both of these sprawling TG visual novels multiple times over the years, but I am basically required to sing their praises here too. Expansive visual novels are these kinds of amazing concoctions that combine the sense of exploration found in an interactive but add in visual representations of scenery, characters, and certain key events, musical backing, and in the best cases, some small amounts of animation. Combine this with overall interesting storylines clearly written by people well versed in TG media, and the end result is something that I drop everything to make time for because I know it will be excellent. And not just because I became the go-to flowchart girl for both games, or that a large portion of my site’s daily traffic comes from people hungry for anything P-S and ST related.
Alright, I think I’ve rambled on about TG enough for the moment. But in the meantime, feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think about TG, what TG stuff really gets you going, or yell at me for getting definitions of colloquially defined terms wrong. It’s all good in my book.
Deiser Catgirl by Mr-DNA
Which TS girl do you like? by Hayasikazura
MonGirl 4koma 196 – Punishment for Lolicon by GreenTeaNeko
TG Sequence – Link by TheMightFenek
What if… Blissful ALT by MentalCrash
A fuss in a train by Chibiibiru
Dumb Gender Bender Adventures by Megazone23