And kanji with manga
Sunday, February 4, 2018

josou

In Japanese, josou 女装 means "female attire," but it's typically a term for crossdressing, in the sense of a guy wearing female clothes. It's also romanized josō, with a macron for the long vowel.

The opposite, girls wearing a "male attire," is called dansou 男装, but it's less common in anime.

Tadakuni タダクニ Tadakuni タダクニ crossdressing, with Tabata Hidenori 田畑ヒデノリ and Tanaka Yoshitake 田中ヨシタケ helping, and his sister catching them.
Leftmost: Tabata Hidenori 田畑ヒデノリ
Left: Tadakuni タダクニ
Middle: Tanaka Yoshitake 田中ヨシタケ
Right: Tadakuni's sister.
Anime: Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou 男子高校生の日常 (Episode 1)

Kanji

The word josou 女装 is written with the kanji for the word "woman," onna 女, and clothing, like in an "attire," ishou 衣装.

You can guess from the meaning of the kanji that josou means "female attire," and it does, but it's often used to mean crossdressing instead.

  • ore no josou
    俺の女装
    My female attire.
    My crossdressing.
  • boku no josou
    僕の女装
    (same meaning.)
  • kono josou
    この女装
    This crossdressing.

By the way, dansou 男装 is the same thing, but with the kanji for the word "man," otoko instead.

A third and less used term, iseisou 異性装, means "different gender clothes," just like isekai 異世界 means "different world," and works as a neutral term for crossdressing.

To Crossdress

The word josou can be used as a suru-verb to say "to crossddress."

  • josou suru
    女装する
    (For a guy) to crossdress.
  • josou saseru
    女装させる
    To force [a guy] to crossdress.
    (causative form.)
  • josou saserareru
    女装させられる
    (For a guy) to be forced to crossdress.
    (passive voice with causative form.)

Sometimes, "to crossdress" is said by referring to the appearance of a woman.

  • kakkou
    格好

    Appearance. How someone, or something, looks like.
  • onna no kakkou
    女の格好
    A woman's appearance.
    The appearance of a woman.
    How a woman looks.
  • onna no kakkou wo suru
    女の格好をする
    To make [something] the appearance of a woman.
    (causative eventivizer.)
    • To wear an outfit that makes you look like a woman, thereby making your appearance that of a woman.
    • To crossdress.
  • josei no kakkou wo suru
    女性の格好をする
    (same meaning.)
  • joshi no kakkou wo suru
    女子の格好をする
    (almost same meaning.)
    • joshi
      女子
      Girl. (generally young.)
    • In an anime set in high school, a guy dressing up as a high school girl is looking like a joshi.
    • See also: Joshi-Kousei 女子高生.

The word sugata 姿 is used to refer to someone's "appearance" while they're wearing an outfit. For example:

  • kimono-sugata
    着物姿
    Somebody's appearance while wearing a kimono.
    • kimono-sugata de arawareta
      着物姿で現れた
      Showed up with a kimono-wearing appearance.
      Showed up wearing a kimono.
  • josou-sugata
    女装姿
    Somebody's appearance while crossdressing.

To Wear Women's Clothes

There are several ways to refer to woman's clothes:

  • onna no fuku
    女の服
    A woman's clothes.
    Women's clothes.
    (no-adjective.)
  • josei no fuku
    女性の服
    Female clothes.
    • josei-fuku
      女性服
      (same meaning.)
  • josei-you no fuku
    女性用の服
    Clothes for women's use.
    Clothes intended for women to use, not men.
  • onnamono
    女物
    "Women's things." Anything made for a woman to wear. Includes wristwatches, etc.
  • {onnamono no} fuku
    女物の服
    "Clothes [that] {are women's things}." Clothes made for a woman to wear.

You could say any of the above with a verb meaning "to wear" to form a phrase like:

  • josei-fuku wo kiru
    女性服を着る
    To wear women's clothes.

In Japanese when you're talking about wearing shoes, the verb is haku 履く, and any clothes you put on by passing through your legs is haku 穿く, the same word written with a different kanji, although people normally just use the former and ignore the latter. For example:

  • panthii wo haku
    パンティーを履く
    To wear panties. (because you put your legs through the panties.)
  • sukaato wo haku
    スカートを履く
    To wear a skirt. (despite what you may have heard, you don't put them on through your head.)
  • oobaa-nii wo haku
    オーバーニーを履く
    To wear over-the-knee socks.
  • hai-hiiru wo haku
    ハイヒールを履く
    To wear high-heels.

Some clothing use the verb tsukeru つける, "to attach," instead:

  • bura wo tsukeru
    ブラを付ける
    To attach a bra.
  • iyaringu wo tsukeru
    イヤリングをつける
    To attach earrings.
  • wiggu wo tsukeru
    ウィッグをつける
    To attach a wig.

Some peculiar terms:

Tanaka Yoshitake 田中ヨシタケ finds out his male friends, Tadakuni タダクニ and Tabata Hidenori 田畑ヒデノリ, are wearing bras under their shirts.
Left: Tabata Hidenori 田畑ヒデノリ
Middle: Tadakuni タダクニ
Right: Tanaka Yoshitake 田中ヨシタケ
Anime: Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou 男子高校生の日常 (Episode 2)
  • Context: guys steal girls' underwear.
  • sukebura
    スケブラ

    Seen-through bra. A bra that's visible through clothes.
Character: Koibuchi Kuranosuke 鯉淵蔵之介
Anime: Kuragehime 海月姫 (Episode 3)
  • Context: a guy pads his chest.
  • ginyuu wo tsukeru
    偽乳をつける
    To attach fake breasts.

The morpheme josou can be attached to terms of outfits, too:

  • josou-meido
    女装メイド
    Crossdressing (male) maid.
  • josou-naasu
    女装ナース
    Crossdressing (male) nurse.
Kiryuu Keiki 桐生慧輝, example of "bunny boy," banii-booi バニーボーイ.
Character: Kiryuu Keiki 桐生慧輝
Anime: Kawaikereba Hentai demo Suki ni Natte Kuremasu ka? 可愛ければ変態でも好きになってくれますか? (Episode 8, Stitch)
  • Context: the word hentai 変態, as seen in the title of this anime, means "pervert" in Japanese.
  • josou-banii-gaaru
    女装バニーガール
    Crossdressing (male) bunny girl.

Crossdressing Guy

There are various terms to refer to a guy who crossdressers.

  • josou-danshi
    女装男子
    Crossdressing boy.
  • josou-dansei
    女装男性
    Crossdress guy. Crossdressing man.

Specifically in anime, you would have:

  • josou-kyara
    女装キャラ
    Crossdressing (male) character.

A character that's mistaken for a girl due to his appearance is sometimes called a "trap" in the English anime fandom.

Koibuchi Kuranosuke 鯉淵蔵之介, example of a guy crossdressing, josou 女装.
Character: Koibuchi Kuranosuke 鯉淵蔵之介
Anime: Kuragehime 海月姫 (Episode 2, Stitch)
  • Context: ironically, the average anime girl would never wear something like this.

In Japanese, if the trap is a trap only when he's crossdressing, and looks like a boy when he isn't, he's called a josou-danshi.

Shimogamo Yasaburou 下鴨矢三郎, a male tanuki, sitting in agura あぐら with a skirt, while transformed into a sailor outfit-wearing human girl.
Character: Shimogamo Yasaburou 下鴨矢三郎
Anime: Uchouten Kazoku 有頂天家族 (Episode 1)
  • Context: while disguised as a girl, the male Yasaburou nevertheless looks like a guy, sitting with legs crossed Indian-style, i.e. in agura あぐら position, even as he wears a skirt.

A trap character that can be mistaken for a girl even when he isn't crossdressing, or is always crossdressing as a matter of design, would be called an otokonoko 男の娘 instead, which is closer to the term "femboy" in English.

Characters in a sauna.
Anime: Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Kan, やはり俺の青春ラブコメはまちがっている。完 (Season 3) (Episode 12)
  • Context: Totsuka Saika 戸塚彩加, in spite of being male in a sauna with a bunch of guys, sits with legs closed, different from every other guy.

There are many cases where it's hard to classify a character as one or the other, however.

Ninomiya Rui 爾乃美家累 taking off his wig, example of crossdressing trap character.
Character: Ninomiya Rui 爾乃美家累
Anime: Gatchaman Crowds, ガッチャマン クラウズ (Episode 2)
  • Context: Rui removes his feminine wig to reveal his natural, very masculine hairst—no, wait, he still looks like a girl nonetheless, only now short haired.

In Boy's Love, yaoi やおい, and moe 萌え targeted at fujoshi 腐女子, who ship male characters with other male characters, it's commonly held that in a gay ship the seme and uke, i.e. the top and bottom, are such that the bottom is "the girl" of the relationship.

As such, a character that crossdresses is typically regarded as the uke in a ship, and a gay fanfic may have the uke crossdressing.

  • josou-uke
    女装受け
    Crossdressing bottom. (in a gay ship.)
  • josou-seme
    女装攻め
    Crossdressing top. (in a gay ship.)

These ships are generally heteronormative, so when it's the seme crossdressing instead, that's not indicative of a lack of heteronormativity, but merely a deliberate contradiction of it as a subversion of the crossdressing uke trope, i.e. it's an example of gap moe ギャップ萌え.

See also: types of seme and uke.

Male Crossdressser

There are specific terms for guys that crossdress habitually, i.e. for crossdressers who are male:

  • josoko
    女装子
    Crossdresser. (as a hobby or profession.)
    • Confusingly read as joso-ko じょこ, not josou-ko じょそうこ with a long vowel.
    • Works just like the word odori-ko 踊り子, "dancer."
    • See ko for details.
  • josouka
    女装家
    Crossdresser.
    • The ka 家 means it's their craft, just like a mangaka 漫画家 is a "manga artist," to whom manga is their craft.
    • This term is less common than josoko. Both terms often refer to people who work as crossdressers, like TV personalities, etc.
  • josousha
    女装者
    Crossdresser.
    • The ~sha ~者 just means "person" and doesn't imply anything. This term is more generic and less common.

A term for crossdressing as a paraphilia would be:

  • ei-jii
    AGエイ・ジー
    (abbreviation, katakanized English letters.)
  • ootogainefiria
    オートガイネフィリア
    Autogynephilia.
    • Male crossdressing fetish
  • jiko-josei-ka-sei-ai
    自己女性化性愛
    Self-female-ization-sexual-attraction. (literally.)

Some crossdressers crossdress in private, but not in public, or vice-versa, rather than crossdressing all the time, perhaps assuming a female persona during the time they're crossdressing. There are terms for these time intervals. They are:

  • ee-men
    A面エーめん
    Side-A. (in music, which is the front side.)
    The crossdressing side of a josoko,
  • bii-men
    B面ビーめん
    Side-B. (in music, which is the back side.)
    The non-crossdressing side of a josoko.

It sounds a bit weird that the front side tends to be the private one. Presumably, a crossdresser would only use these terms with someone who already knows they're a crossdresser, hence the reversal.

For example, if a crossdresser said his B-side is a shop clerk, that means when he isn't crossdressing he's a shop clerk.

Tropes

For reference, some common tropes involving crossdressing in anime:

Fangirling

Generally, characters crossdress in anime because girls like guys crossdressing. This includes both girls in real life and girls within the anime, and, in particular, the fujoshi 腐女子, "rotten girls," which is a niche audience that ships guys with other guys.

Since guys don't normally wear female clothes, it makes sense to think that most of the time a guy is crossdressing in anime it's because a girl helped him crossdress.

Miyanokouji Mizuho 宮小路瑞穂 is helped crossdress by Mikado Mariya 御門まりや, who puts a lipstick on him.
Left: Mikado Mariya 御門まりや
Right: Miyanokouji Mizuho 宮小路瑞穂
Anime: Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru 乙女は僕に恋してる (Episode 1)
  • Context: Mizuho doesn't know how to put on a lipstick, because he's a guy.

Series targeted at a female audience tend to have lots of male characters, including some "beautiful boys," bishounen 美少年, "hot guys," ikemen イケメン, and some sort of queer character, called something like:

  • okama
    オカマ
    Gay men, effeminate men, trans women. Originally a slur.

A character that's both male and feminine displays a juxtaposition of attributes sometimes called gap moe ギャップ萌え.

A moe 萌え series targeted at a female audience is likely to feature crossdressers and effeminate men as a way to include this gap moe, although these notions have existed way before the moe boom.

The misleading design of characters that appear in Patalliro, Jada, ジャダ, Thatcher, サッチャー, Bjorn, ビョルン, Marion, マリオン, Maraich, マライヒ and Etrange, エトランジュ, of which only one is a female character.
From left to right, top to bottom:
Jada, ジャダ
Thatcher, サッチャー
Bjorn, ビョルン
Marion, マリオン
Maraich, マライヒ
Etrange, エトランジュ
Anime: Patalliro!, パタリロ! (Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, respectively)
  • Context: a BL series targeted at a female audience. Only one of these characters is female, and the only female character to show up in the first six episodes.

Look Like a Girl,Will Dress Like a Girl

If a character is an otokonoko, that is, if a character looks like a girl even without crossdressing, there's an extremely high probability that he will end up drawn crossdressing at some point in the series.

Authors come up with all sorts of reasons, and some of them pretty bad reasons, to have the token trap character crossdress, to the point that you can basically expect such character to crossdress eventually.

Most of the time:

  1. The trap would look good crossdressing, the clothes would suit him.
  2. The trap would pass as a girl if he crossdressed, so if SOMEONE has to crossdress, that would be the trap.

Dress Up Doll

Sometimes, a character is made to crossdress for the entertainment of a girl or multiple girls, turned into a live:

  • kise-kae-ningyou
    着せ替え人形
    Dress up doll.
    • ningyou
      人形
      Doll. (literally "human shape.")
    • kise-kae - a compound verb.
    • kiseru
      着せる
      To make [someone] wear [something].
      (causative form.)
    • kaeru
      替える
      To replace [one thing] for [another]. (in this case, clothing.)

The reason why this occurs so often is pretty simple, or complicated if you think about it:

  1. Girls like cute things.
  2. Girls wear cute things.
  3. Girls' clothes are cute.
  4. If a girl wants a guy to wear something cute, that might mean wearing girls' clothes, since they are cute.

The point isn't in making the guy crossdress, it's to make him wear something cute, but it just happens something cute tends to be frilly, pink, and with ribbons, which just happens to be considered girly, so it just happens he'll have to crossdress.

It's all a strange coincidence, really.

Shuna シュナ making Rimuru Tempest リムル=テンペスト wear female clothes.
Top: Shuna シュナ
Bottom: Rimuru Tempest リムル=テンペスト
Anime: TenSura Nikki: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken, 転スラ日記 転生したらスライムだった件 (Episode 1, Collage)
  • Context: an assembly is held to decide which outfit would look the cutest on Rimuru, who is a sexless, androgynous slime, but identifies as male, as he used to be a guy on Earth until he died and got reincarnated in another world.

The point isn't to make the guy look like a girl, either. It's to make him wear something cute, which means he might end up having to wear an overly cute outfit, which, ironically, no girl would normally wear, since it's basically cosplay at this point.

Ayasaki Hayate 綾崎ハヤテ, example of crossdressing cat girl cosplay.
Character: Ayasaki Hayate 綾崎ハヤテ
Anime: Hayate no Gotoku! ハヤテのごとく! (Episode 8, Stitch)
Urushibara Ruka 漆原るか, crossdressing as a fox girl.
Character: Urushibara Ruka 漆原るか
Anime: Steins;Gate 0 (Special, Stitch)
  • Context: Ruka is made wear a fox girl outfit.
    • This pose, W-sitting, is known as onna-no-ko-zuwari 女の子座り in Japanese, "girl sitting." The name comes from the idea that only girls are physically capable of sitting in this way.

Female characters can also fall victim of the same treatment, being made cosplay for the entertainment of other female characters in cute outfits, except these won't count as crossdressing.

Ika-musume イカ娘, example of character cosplaying.
Character: Ika-musume イカ娘
Anime: Shinryaku! Ika Musume 侵略!イカ娘 (Episode 2)
  • Context: Ika-musume was forced to cosplay in countless ways, including ballerina, high school girl, kindergarten, nurse, maid, china dress, gothic lolita, teacher, and school swimsuit.

Taking Photos

Sometimes, or rather, way too often, girls will take photos of the guy crossdressing, for who knows what purpose.

Ayasaki Hayate 綾崎ハヤテ, being photographed crossdressing by Sanzen'in Nagi 三千院ナギ.
Crossdresser: Ayasaki Hayate 綾崎ハヤテ
Photographer: Sanzen'in Nagi 三千院ナギ
Anime: Hayate no Gotoku! ハヤテのごとく! (Episode 8, Collage)
  • Context: taking a:
  • kinen shashin
    記念写真
    Commemorative photo. A photo taken to turn an occasion into a memory.
Urushibara Ruka 漆原るか, being made crossdress as a fox girl, and then getting photos taken of.
Crossdresser: Urushibara Ruka 漆原るか
Photographer: Kiryuu Moeka 桐生萌郁
Anime: Steins;Gate 0 (Episode 24, Special)
  • Context: the typical scenario.
    • Girls want to make a guy crossdress.
    • He is made worn a cute outfit.
    • Girls are surprised by how cute he looks.
    • He's embarrassed.
    • A girl takes photo, in this case with her phone.
Kazami Yuri 風見ゆり, Shiina Aki 椎名亜樹, example of character crossdressing.
Crossdresser: Shiina Aki 椎名亜樹
Photographer: Kazami Yuri 風見ゆり
Anime: Sunohara-sou no Kanrinin-san すのはら荘の管理人さん (Episode 3, Collage)
  • Context: Yuri, who makes clothes, asks Aki for help with something, who would be glad to help, until he realizes he's supposed to wear a maid outfit. He does it anyway. And then he's made cosplay in a nurse outfit, china dress, gym outfit, and as a cat girl.

Instant Crossdressing

Generally, guys don't want to wear female clothes, but sometimes a guy is handed a feminine outfit, and he somehow undresses, wears the outfit, takes a look at it, and only then he realizes it's a dress or something of sort, typically making a retort like "wait, this clothing is for girls," at himself.

I Created a Monster

Sometimes, a girl nonchalantly makes a guy crossdress, which has an outcome that far exceeds her expectations, typically that the guy crossdressing looks far cuter than she could have ever imagined.

うう゛・・・ひどいですよ こんなの・・・ ニャーン❤ シクシクシク ・・・・・・・・・ こ・・・これは・・・ シャレになっていませんわ・・・ かァァァ・・・ 素質はあると思っていましたけど・・・ まさかこれほどとは・・・ シクシクシク
Manga: Hayate no Gotoku! ハヤテのごとく! (Chapter 8, ネコミミ・モードで地獄行き)
  • Context: Ayasaki Hayate 綾崎 ヤテ, who is a butler, is made crossdress as a cat girl by Sanzenin Nagi 三千院ナギ, with the help of Maria マリア, the maid.
  • uú... hidoi desu yo, konna no...
    う゛・・・ひどいですよ こんなの・・・
    *sob*... [you're] [so] mean, [doing] something like this.
    (dislocation.)
  • nyaan❤
    ニャーン❤
    Meow ❤.
  • shiku-shiku-shiku
    シクシクシク
    *weeping*
    (onomatopoeia.)
  • .........
  • ko... kore wa...
    こ・・・これは・・・
    Th... this [is]...
  • share ni natte-imasen wa...
    シャレになっていませんわ・・・
    [This] hasn't become a joke. (literally.)
    (eventivizer stativized.)
    • They intended for it to be funny, but it turned out to be something else.
  • kaaaa...
    かァァァ・・・
    *lovestruck*
  • {soshitsu wa aru} to omotte-imashita kedo...
    素質はある思っていましたけど・・・
    [I] thought that {[you] had aptitude (for crossdressing)}...
    • soshitsu
      素質
      Raw quality. Talent for something you haven't done. E.g. this character WOULD look good in girls clothes, but they have never worn such clothes.
  • masaka kore hodo towa...
    まさかこれほどとは・・・
    [I] didn't expect [it] to be this much...
  • shiku-shiku-shiku
    シクシクシク
    *weeping*

Alternatively, introducing a guy to crossdressing can end up making him crossdress habitually.

  • In Minami-ke みなみけ, a series full of idiots, Makoto マコト pretends to be a girl to visit a girl he likes, and is helped crossdress by the girl's older sister, who lends him a set of her old clothes. This start him to get more and more into crossdressing.

School Culture Festival

Sometimes, characters crossdress due to a school's "culture festival," bunkasai 文化祭, because their class decided to hold a crossdressing event.

Utsumi Shou 内海将, Takarada Rikka 宝多六花, and Hibiki Yuuta 響裕太, example of characters crossdressing.
Left: Utsumi Shou 内海将
Middle: Takarada Rikka 宝多六花
Right Hibiki Yuuta 響裕太
Anime: SSSS.GRIDMAN (Episode 8, Stitch)

In Japan, schools hold a culture festival yearly, in which students of each class have to decide what will be their contribution to the festival, like a maid café, for example.

In real life, classes DO sometimes decide to hold a crossdressing event. That's why the crossdressing in anime comes from. Some events, like haunted houses, don't make a lot of sense in real life, though.

There are cultural reasons for the acceptance of crossdressing in performance in Japan. For example, the kabuki 歌舞伎.

Around the early 17th century, onna-kabuki 女歌舞伎 was a kind of show performed by women that was associated with prostitution.

The government intervened and banned women from performing kabuki, resulting in men crossdressing performing kabuki in place of the women, which would then be called yarou-kabuki 野郎歌舞伎 instead.

Even today, kabuki exists, still traditionally performed with only men, and one crossdressing man performing the "female role," oyama 女形.

Maid Café

Sometimes, the event of a school festival isn't a maid café, but a crossdressing maid café, which means the male characters will have to wear maid outfits, while the female characters wear butler outfits.

  • In MayoChiki! まよチキ!, Konoe Subaru 近衛スバル is a girl pretending to be a boy, i.e. a reverse trap, and she's extremely popular with the girls from her class, who think she's a boy, and who decide to have a crossdressing maid café, to have her cross-cross-dress in a china dress.
Konoe Subaru 近衛スバル, in a china dress, example of cleavage window.
Character: Konoe Subaru 近衛スバル
Anime: Mayo Chiki! まよチキ! (Episode 6, Stitch)
  • Context: how did nobody notice she was a girl in spite of dressing like this is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
  • tanima hooru
    谷間ホール
    Cleavage hole.

Theater Piece

Sometimes, the event of a school festival is a theater piece, and at least one male character is cast in a female role, which means they'll have to crossdress.

W白雪姫
Anime: Masamune-kun no Revenge, 政宗くんのリベンジ (Episode 11)
  • Context: two different classes decide to do the same theater play, with trap Shuri Kojuurou 朱里小十郎 being cast as the female heroine of one play by his class' president, who is a fujoshi.
  • W-shirayukihime
    白雪姫
    Double snow white.
Sena Izumi 瀬名泉水, example of character crossdressing.
Character: Sena Izumi 瀬名泉水
Anime: Love Stage!! (Episode 1, Stitch)
  • Context: Izumi, whose mother is an actress, was at a filming location when a female child actor who was going to play a part didn't show up. Since he was the only child around, they simply put a dress on him and made him play the part.

Contest

Some series have bikini contests, while others have crossdressing contests.

Narukami Yuu 鳴上悠, crossdressing as female delinquent, sukeban スケバン.
Character: Narukami Yuu 鳴上悠
Anime: Persona 4, ペルソナ4 (Episode 19, Stitch)
  • Context: Narukami Yuu takes part of a crossdressing contest in a school festival, wearing a sukeban スケバン outfit.
Daimon Kaito 大門カイト, example of guy crossdressing, josou 女装.
Character: Daimon Kaito 大門カイト
Right: Mizutani Airi 水谷アイリ
Anime: Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle, ファイ・ブレイン 神のパズル (Episode 9)

Disguised as a Girl

Sometimes, a character has to disguise himself, which means he'll have to pretend to be a girl, which means he'll have to crossdress.

But wait a second, where did the "pretend to be a girl" part come from? Why not just disguise yourself as a different guy? I guess it's harder to guess that a girl is actually a guy you know. Better not think too hard about it.

Ciel Phantomhive シエル・ファントムハイヴ, crossdressing in a dress.
Character: Ciel Phantomhive シエル・ファントムハイヴ
Anime: Black Butler, Kuroshitsuji 黒執事 (Episode 4, Stitch)
  • Context: Ciel pretends to be a girl to infiltrate a dance party.

If one guy has to crossdress for some reason, and there's a bunch of male characters to choose from, logically, it's the trap that will crossdress:

Shiota Nagisa 潮田渚, crossdressing.
Character: Shiota Nagisa 潮田渚
Anime: Assassination Classroom, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 暗殺教室 (Episode 20, Stitch)
  • Context: a class of assassins infiltrates a club. They decided the boys will stay behind, and the girls will move in a group, since a group of girls moving around in a club isn't suspicious. The teachers say it's too dangerous for the girls to move alone, so Nagisa, who is a guy, ends up having to accompany them, while pretending to be a girl like them.

If the character isn't a trap, there's a chance they'll fail to pass as a girl if they try to crossdress.

Joseph Joestar ジョセフ・ジョースター, crossdressing in front of nazi soldiers.
Character: Joseph Joestar ジョセフ・ジョースター
Anime: JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 (2012) (Episode 12)
  • Context: Joseph Joestar crossdresses to infiltrate a nazi checkpoint, but the Nazi soldiers manage to see through his disguise.
  • kuso! sasuga Doitsu-gun da ze. yoku zo ore no josou wo mi-yabutta na
    クソ!さすがドイツ軍だぜ。よくぞ俺の女装を見破ったな
    Shit! As expected from the German army. [I commend you] for seeing through my crossdressing.
    • yoku よく - literally done "well," can be used as a compliment, or in the sense of "damn you for doing this." See yoku mo よくも for examples.

Female Occupation

Some occupations are only done by female characters, or at least characters that appear female. Sometimes, the character turns out to be a guy crossdressing instead. These include:

  • Idol, member of a female idol group.
    • Kanzaki Hideri 神崎ひでり, from Blend S, wants to be an idol (female), in spite of being a guy, so he's constantly crossdressing.
    • Suzuki Iruma 鈴木入間, from Mairimashita! Iruma-kun 魔入りました!入間くん, once disguised himself as a girl to pretend to be an idol.
  • Magical girl, mahou shoujo 魔法少女.
    • Since magical girls transform, it's sometimes the case the character physically changes sex, i.e. nyotaika 女体化.
    • Mitsuka Souji 観束総二, from Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu. 俺、ツインテールになります。, turns into a girl called Tail Red テイルレッド when he transforms.
  • High school girl, in a school that only has female students.
    • Miyanokouji Mizuho 宮小路瑞穂, from Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru 乙女は僕に恋してる, has to enroll a girls school as requests in his late grandfather's will.

Language

In Japanese, some language is used particularly by women, called "female language," joseigo 女性語, and some particularly by men.

For example, the wa わ sentence ending particle is considered feminine, while ze and zo are considered masculine.

Sometimes, a guy pretending to be a girl may end up still "speaking like a guy" by using masculine language, such as da ze だぜ, instead of feminine language, like desu wa ですわ.

An overly feminine subset of female language is particularly used by gay men and trans women. This subset is called onee-kotoba オネエ言葉, and people who use it are called onee オネエ.

Pronouns

In Japanese, there are various first person pronouns, and some of them are masculine, like ore and boku, while others are feminine, like atashi あたし.

It's possible for a guy pretending to be a girl to end up using a masculine pronoun by accident.

Some female characters use masculine pronouns. These are called bokukko ボクっ娘 and orekko オレっ娘, respectively.

The pronoun ore is considered more masculine, so it's less likely to be used by female characters, and also less likely to be used by trap characters, who tend to use boku instead.

It's Just a Hobby!

Sometimes, a character will claim crossdressing is their hobby, prompting weird looks from whomever they're talking to.

  • josou shumi
    女装趣味
    Crossdressing hobby.

This tends to be a lie. The idea is that the truth is worse than having a crossdressing hobby, and it tends to happen in situations like:

  1. The character is found crossdressing.
  2. Girl clothes is found in the character's possession.
  3. Female underwear in found in the character's possession.

The truth could be:

  1. The character plans to infiltrate somewhere. Rather than revealing his master plan, he says it's his hobby.
  2. A girl came by.
  3. A girl came by, and is naked somewhere.

Alias, Fake Name

Characters who crossdress often have a special name for their crossdressing forms, an alias. Sometimes this name is canonical, other times it's name made up by fans.

Often, it's a name created by adding a ~ko ~子 suffix to the character's name, since that's a common suffix in girls' names.

  • In Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu バカとテストと召喚獣, the first time Yoshii Akihisa 吉井明久 crossdresses, his class names "her" Aki-chan アキちゃん. The second time, when he entries a contest, the name chosen was Akiko 秋子.
Yoshii Akihisa 吉井明久, pretending to be a girl by the name of Yoshii Akiko 吉井秋子.
Character: Yoshii Akihisa 吉井明久, Yoshii Akiko 吉井秋子
Anime: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni'!, !バカとテストと召喚獣 にっ! (Season 2) (Episode 2)

In Gintama 銀魂, Katsura 桂, also known as Zura ヅラ, becomes Zurako ヅラ子, and Gintoki 銀時, for having a "perm" hair, paama パーマ, becomes Paako パー子.

In Sword Art Online's Gun Gale Online arc, Kirigaya Kazuto, whose virtual name is Kirito, ends up with an avatar that's not female, but looks like a girl. The avatar was named Kiriko by the fandom.[キリ子 - dic.nicovideo.jp, 2019-02-19]

Kirigaya Kazuto 桐ヶ谷和人, and trap Kirito キリト, a.k.a. Kiriko キリ子.
Left: Kirigaya Kazuto 桐ヶ谷和人
Right: "Trap Kirito キリト", a.k.a. Kiriko キリ子
Anime: Sword Art Online II, ソードアート・オンラインII (Season 2) (Episode 8, Collage)

Girl Mode Admirer

Sometimes, a male character sees another character crossdressing and falls in love with him at first sight.

Yoshii Akihisa 吉井明久, pretending to be a girl called Aki-chan アキちゃん, and Kubo Toshimitsu 久保利光, who fell in love with him crossdressing.
Left: Yoshii Akihisa 吉井明久, Aki-chan アキちゃん
Right: Kubo Toshimitsu 久保利光
Anime: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu: Matsuri, バカとテストと召喚獣 ~祭~ (Episode 1, Collage)

Sometimes, the crossdresser is someone the admirer knows, or is around often, but he's still unable to realize that the girl he fell in love with is actually that guy.

Ayasaki Hayate 綾崎ハヤテ, and Klaus Seishirou 倉臼征史郎, who fell in love with him crossdressing.
Left: Ayasaki Hayate 綾崎ハヤテ
Right: Klaus Seishirou 倉臼征史郎
Anime: Hayate no Gotoku! ハヤテのごとく! (Episode 8, Collage)
  • Context: both Klaus and Hayate are butlers working in the same mansion, and yet Klaus fails to realize the cute cat girl in front of him is actually Hayate.

It's a trope for the trap character to look cuter than the average girl, even if they're only a trap when they're crossdressing, which means a crossdressing hanging around with girls is likely to get hit on even as other girls are not.

Shiota Nagisa 潮田渚, and Norita Yuuji 法田勇治, who fell in love with him crossdressing.
Left: Shiota Nagisa 潮田渚
Right: Norita Yuuji 法田勇治
Anime: Assassination Classroom, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 暗殺教室 (Episode 20, Collage)
  • Context: Nagisa was in a group with several girls, and Yuuji went straight (?) for him.

Blackmail

Sometimes, a character is photographed when crossdressing, and that photo is used as blackmail material.

  • kyouhaku
    脅迫
    Intimation. Coercing someone with threats, blackmail.
Shiota Nagisa 潮田渚, being blackmailed by Akabane Karma 赤羽業 with a picture of him crossdressing.
Left: Shiota Nagisa 潮田渚
Right: Akabane Karma 赤羽業
Anime: Assassination Classroom, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 暗殺教室 (Episode 20)

This is commonly accompanied by phrases like "if you want this photo erased, do everything I say," or the victim begs for the other character to erase the evidence, famously saying the magic words:

  • nandemo shimasu kara
    なんでもしますから
    [I'll] do anything, so [please delete the photo.]
    • Yes, "anything."

Of course, there are cases where the blackmail is more specific.

Nemoto Kyouji 根本恭二 getting blackmailed by Sakamoto Yuuji 坂本雄二 with his crossdressing photos.
Left: Nemoto Kyouji 根本恭二
Right: Sakamoto Yuuji 坂本雄二
Anime: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu: Matsuri, バカとテストと召喚獣 ~祭~ (Episode 2)
  • Context: in a tournament, Sakamoto blackmails Nemoto into surrendering the match using a book full of photos of Nemoto crossdressing.
  • wakatta Sakamoto, kousan suru!
    kono shiai wa omae-tachi no kachi de ii!
    dakara, sono shashin wa...!

    わかった坂本、降参する!
    この試合はお前たちの勝ちでいい!
    だから、その写真は・・・!
    I got it, Sakamoto, I'll surrender!
    I'm fine with this match being a win by you two! (I agree to your terms.)
    So, about those photos...! (give them to me so I can destroy it!)

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