I recently comented in the main board asking whether or not a male Time Lord who regenerates as a female or female who regenrates as a male would be considered transgender or transsexual.  That random idea inspired another train of thought about the implications of the possibility of regenerating into a different sex/gender in an understanding of sexuality. So, what are your thoughts?  

I'm not really sure where would be a good place to start, I just thought the topic would be interesting. Sorry.


Just so we're clear, in this discussion, let's assume that regeneration is a given, not a fictional concept. It'll just make discussing it easier.

Just in the name of full disclosure, I am a straight man. I try to be conscious of the privilege that comes with that all the time, but occasionally I am not. I apologize if I fail, and would appreciate it if someone were to point it out to me if it happens.


I never thought that I would have a discussion like this, online or IRL. Of the people I know who watch DW, very few of them would be willing to have, or be mature enough to have, this conversation, and of the people I know who would be willing and mature enough to have this conversation do. not know enough about Doctor Who.

I am in awe of Nerdfighteria, I'm really glad I found this community. Thanks for providing a forum for this discussion, everybody

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Except that we know from the classic series that Rassilon is immortal, and was one of the founders of Time Lord society. My theory is he started out just wanting to return Time Lord society to the "ideal" he created (which is the stuffy aristocracy that treats the Doctor as a criminal), and then the Time War started. The war made him, and much of the rest of Gallifreyan society, even colder. This is why the Doctor destroyed it. But it began as something negative (from the Doctor's perspective) as well.

Hence my second and third questions. My thought is that Time Lord society is strict about sex/gender issues...aside from the Corsair, we know of no one who has changed sexes ("Curse of Fatal Death" aside, since it isn't canon). Perhaps the Corsair was that transgender rebel?

A good friend of mine is dying for the doctor to regenerate as a female. While I wouldn't be against the thought, I prefer the doctor to be male.
My reasoning for this is purely selfish.
It would be a lot harder for me to have a crush on the doctor, if the doctor were female.

That being said, I would be highly intrigued to see how the show would change if the doctor would regenerate female. I feel it would swing one of two ways. Completely brilliant, or god awful. 

I think they're considered the same person in spite of regenerations. It's easier to keep records that way, especially because the Doctor causes the establishment so much trouble. And yes, it probably is improper; there are even timelines in which Time Lords are something like clones.

Maybe you just don't ask what a person was born as?

@Ace. You're mainly addressing gender identity in your post, not sexuality, they are two different things not necessarily related. Just wanted to state that, even though it's not really the point of the discussion

As for on-topic. It seems likely that, as Alix mentions, in Time Lord society there's a distinction made based on the current regeneration's sex / gender. Or, when referring to earlier regenerations, to the sex / gender of those specific regenerations. Whether there's a strict gender binary in Time Lord society is harder to determine given the relatively limited amount of observations, especially because gender / sexuality has, as far as I know, never played a very major role.

To me it seems likely that, given their long history, and the fact that regenerations can vary in pretty much anything, that there's not a strict gender binary basis in Time Lord society. That may be me being hopeful, though.

Given the regeneration of Mels to River Song (Lets Kill Hilter), where she mentions focussing on a dress-size, I'd postulate that there's the possibility to steer their regeneration into a certain direction. . Sidenote: could it then be that if the Doctor concentrates hard enough, he could regenerate into a ginger?

It's an interesting thing to think about, but as of now my brain's a bit scrambled, hope I'm still making sense.

Very interesting idea, very... BRILLIANT.

i don't know if it's ever eplained in cannon, but i think the Doctor has less control over his regenerations than others.  the Master, for example, also intentionally changes to become younger when he regenerates into his 6th? incarnation (the Saxon persona) 

In season 14 of the original series (according to it has been established that he was at the end of his 13th life.

As I'm re-watching the part where he regenerates into the Harold Saxon persona, it shows indeed that he has much control about his regeneration. I'm not sure if what you say has been established in canon, but from what I've seen the Doctor seems to have little control over his regenerations indeed.

Your point about guiding the regeneration: TVTropes has a brilliant theory about this, which I'll summarize here: Guiding the regeneration is something all Time Lords learn at the Academy, but it's one of the many classes the Doctor just didn't pay attention in. Romana also directs her regeneration, trying on strange bodies to convince the Doctor to let her become Princess Astra; the Master (in "Utopia") also regenerates to be "young and strong." However, the Doctor can only do this subconsciously, and there's a whole list of the regenerations proceeding as they do to give the Doctor the personality he needs at the time.

However, I disagree with you on there not being a strict gender binary. Time Lords and humans are very similar, as has been pointed out several times on the show--appearance, society, a number of aspects. The Doctor seems used to the gender binary. Of course, now that Gallifrey is gone we'll never know for sure.

I think that when the Doctor regenerates, he (/she) becomes an entirely new person. He (or she, ya never know) doesn't feel the same things for the same people (like I don't think the Eleventh would have any of the Tenth's feelings for Rose, for example), and they don't have the same liking for the same things, and they may have a different way of approaching obstacles, etc. So when The Doctor regenerates, I think they become... an entirely new person. Like, there's no standard mold for The Doctor, except that they seem to want to be ginger? And they like helping people. But I've never watched the Classic Who episodes, so this is just me basing stuff off the newer series. I don't think that if the Doctor regenerated into a girl, they'd be considered transgender. I think The Doctor would just be considered a girl, despite her past as males. Because when The Doctor regenerates, he/she/ARGH just becomes an entirely NEW PERSON. Like, if, as a girl, the Doctor decides that she actually wants to be a male and then changes her gender to male, then I guess he'd be transgender then? To be honest though, I've always seen the Doctor as a male. Not that I don't think a female could pull of the Doctor's... Doctor-yness or anything, but... The Doctor was just always a "he" to me, I guess. It would be pretty weird to see a female Doctor, and I don't mean to sound sexist or anything but I hope it doesn't happen. 

Additionally: What kind of pronoun should one give to The Doctor? (Also, I'm sorry for my mish-mash of pronouns used above. Argh) I think it'd just be easier to refer to him as, well, "him", but this is just a personal opinion, and it's too much of a mouthful to say "he-slash-she-slash-whatever". I just use the pronoun of whatever gender The Doctor's in at the current series.

I'm glad you brought this topic up, by the way! It was interesting to read the comments. Also, I would invite anyone to feel free to pick out anything in my comment that you think could be changed - I'm not very confident on this one and my door is always open to improvement. 

I don't think the Doctor will ever be female--look at all the trouble his female Companions get into in past eras, whereas a male Doctor is given all kinds of respect. Therefore, I tend to use the Corsair, who did change sexes, as an example.
As for pronouns, I'd refer to a Time Lord/Lady as either their current sex/gender or that of their first regeneration...although singular "they" works just fine for me.

With regard to your pronoun query, that would only be a problem in certain languages like English that concentrates on gender for third person singulars.  For example the Indonesian for "he goes home," is the same as the Indonesian for "she goes home."  It makes sense since the whole point of a pronoun is that you already know the person you're referring to so why would you need to draw yet more attention to the gender?  It could be the result of our society putting so much weight on the importance of gender in identity.

Sorry I know that doesn't really make a difference to the conversation because it's being discussed in English, I just wanted to geek out.


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