The days of puppy dog tails and sugar and spice may be fading, but being born a girl or boy still carries certain expectations. And while what's expected from both genders has become more flexible over the years, we can still see the "rules" revealed in what's deemed newsworthy, like Alicia Keys not wearing makeup or Jaden Smith wearing a skirt.
Beyond appearance, however, people can have the sense that the deeper assumptions about gender just don't fit them. This doesn't always mean not identifying with your sex and wanting to change it, as is true for many who identify as transgender. Instead, it's more about wanting gender to be more fluid and less rigid, so that there's some middle ground between maleness and femaleness.
Actors like Miley Cyrus and Ruby Rose identify as gender-fluid and define it as being "somewhere in the middle," though it isn't all about appearance and doesn't necessarily define sexuality. More and more young people are embracing this idea and identifying as fluid, and there are a handful of apps and games to reflect their experiences. Check out the titles below to find characters who are either gender-fluid or who generally challenge gender norms.
Chrono Trigger, 11+
Considering this role-playing game was originally released in the '90s, its inclusive spirit is pretty progressive. It's a classic RPG (role-playing game) with battles and spells, but what sets it apart is Flea, one of the playable characters. Flea is described with male pronouns but wears a skirt and seems to have breasts, which makes his (or her?) gender undefined.
Final Fantasy IX, 12+
Just one in the long-running series, this app is all about crafting, exploration, and combat. It also features Quina Quen, who is from a tribe of creatures called the Qu. Her/his pronoun depends on the language in which the game is played, and his/her appearance doesn't indicate a gender.
The Sims 4, 12+
As in all the other Sims games, players get to choose almost every aspect of their characters and control their every move. Unlike previous releases, this installment lets users blend gender traits so characters are more fluid. For example, users can choose "female" as a gender and then use a "masculine" body type and select from a wide range of clothing options.
This game's namesake, Kitty Powers, is a real-life British drag queen. Although unrelated to gender, Matchmaker is inclusive to all sexualities, includes some ambiguously gendered characters, and uses the pronoun "they" in some cases in place of "he" or "she."
This app was designed from the ground up with gender fluidity in mind. Both of its avatar options are somewhat androgynous, and players can choose a neutral pronoun. Without giving anything away, a key theme of the game is openness to all gender and sexual identities.
This game is all about fighting, including with an ambiguously gendered character named Poison. While Poison has female attributes, there are clues that suggest she may be transgender or transsexual, though the game leaves it for players to decide.
This fighting game features a gender-fluid character named Leo (whose birth name is Eleonor). While Tekken Tag Tournament 2 refers to Leo as a she, her unisex clothing and hair and use of "male" weapons adds to her mystique.
This game's inclusion of a transgender character isn't what makes it mature (that's the graphic violence and sex). Born a girl, Krem now lives as a man, and his story emerges through dialogue with other characters. Dragon Age's developers consulted experts on gender issues to create a positive, accurate representation.