Cosplay: Rule 63 – Gender Bends

Gender Bends, Androgyny, and Crossplay: this week we’re delving into the imagination behind Cosplay Characters.

Rule 63 is a rule of the internet that reads as follows: “For any given male character, there is a female version of that character.” This rule’s exceptions are only in the instance that A: the male character is already so androgynous that a female version would be basically the same, or B: the female version hasn’t been drawn yet.”

Dare To Dream

Anything is possible with Cosplay, as long as you have an imagination big enough to accomplish it. Rule 63 is a prime example of that creativity taking new heights. Cosplayers have long been stretching our views of what is normal, bringing us new creative takes on the characters we know and love. The ability to take a character from any fandom and bring it to life–still present, but reimagined as another gender, in another time, in another context–is one of the big reasons Cosplay has such an enduring community. The challenge of taking on a character requires us to constantly reimagine our own boundaries and creative limitations. That there can be both male and female versions of any character gives us the permission to forget convention and dream in a completely safe space, where the only limitations are our own construction abilities and resources.

A Crossplay project, female Ashitaka and male San from Princess Mononoke

There Are No Limits

The beauty behind Cosplay lies in its creative limitations: THERE ARE NONE. There have been numerous debates in the 40k community over female Space Marines and the like; you can always find people wondering if this breaks the lore. The beauty of Cosplay is that there are no limits, no boundaries to what you can create. Cosplay is meant to be a safe haven for creativity, allowing any person the freedom to become whatever inspires them. Period. Have you ever wanted to try Drag? Ever fallen in love with a characters look, and want to try it for yourself? Well Cosplay is the world for you.

Cruella De Vil Crossplay by Hakucosplay

From Comics to Crossplay

The most ready example of Crossplay as canon exists in the world of comics. There have been many instances of characters from Marvel and DC swapping genders, being put into the bodies of the opposite sex, or characters simply being written as having a female counterpart to take advantage of the dynamic range that allows. Comics have been the fore-runner of blurring the lines and testing our boundaries, proving to us that our perception is a fluid thing, and ANYTHING is fair game for change.


Gender-Bent Justice League courtesy of Pat Loika

Intro To Crossplay

There are some really great examples of Crossplay out there right now. I stumbled across this great Crossplay makeup tutorial, and I highly suggest you take a look at it, and search for others, if Crossplay is something you are interested in. Makeup technique goes a great distance towards blurring the lines between male and female, reshaping your face the way you use paint shading on a miniature to change its highlight and contour. If you want to dig deeper, there’s a wealth of resources out there.


Future Crossplay Inspirations

I have dabbled in Crossplay from time to time, and I have a GIANT list of future projects in mind. At the top of my list is a Raistlin Majere from Dragonlance, a Sephiroth, and a Vincent Valentine from Final Fantasy VII.  In a world where anything is possible for Cosplay, what interests you? What projects are you wanting to tackle? I would love to hear from you all, to know what projects you’re working on and are interested in! Shoot me inspiration images and details in my email link below!



~Join us next week for more Cosplay Coverage~

Have a Cosplay question you would like Mayhem’s Muse to answer? Send Mail here!

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Top Photo: Kaminsky Kandids Photography Those seven are ChanzlynJohn QuadeSeth Knight,James T WulfgarTony JacksonMathew Turvish and Sahara Cole.

  • Richard Mitchell

    Le sigh. please do issues on the individuals who work hard to make their cosplay and show us a journal of their endeavours.

    Please stop watching your CNN’s and thinking that the majority of gamers are sexist, homophobic, or transphobic.

    40k players have been asking for more female models for human factions and increasing the presence of sisters as a competitive faction for over a decade. Indeed some companies have made a business out of this by making kits for 40k.

    Everyone is proud of the people in this article and their hard work. It is not the article itself people in the miniature wargaming community are angry about. It is the fact that you write an article that says “look at this hard work” and imply that “40k players hate female space marines”.

    This whole article and articles like this are a slap in the face to the entire nerd community which has a been a safe community for the fringes of mainstream society. Looking at the comments section you can see way more positive comments than negative so please stop trying to portray the community as this. Nerds get picked on and marginalized enough as children and some of the kids who read this page don’t need to log on and see an article that is trying to defame an untrue picture of themselves. And you don’t need to portray the community as unaccepting of difference and drive away nerds who would otherwise engage with and find an outlet for their frustrations through creativity and community.

    • Sergio Celi

      This happens when ideology interferes in hobbies enjoyed by people of all backgrounds. Kinda similar to what happened in the 80s with the conservatism and roleplay games.

      • Richard Mitchell

        I can see that, in the 80’s it was all nerds are god hating devil worshipers who live in the basement. Now it’s all nerds are LGBT and women hating white guys who live in the basement. Which is really sad, I love being part of the nerd community and I am proud of it because there are so many people who do not fit the stereotype. On a whole what I see are successful adults who faced adversity as kids, are involved with their families and communities, and are from totally different backgrounds, bound by a singular or collective set of creative interests.

        But I guess whatever era you live in nerds always have to be someone’s whipping boy. Which is cool, we all faced some sort of adversity growing up and have become loving and successful adults so we can really handle anything.

    • Dave Satterthwaite

      If you really want anyone reading your words to picture you as ‘comic book guy’ then starting with ‘LE SIGH’ is the best way to achieve that.


      Are you going for a Simpsons trifecta?

      • Hahboo

        “straight white males”

        And comment disregarded

        • Yea, that was some nice argumentum ad hominem he was trying to pull of there.

      • Richard Mitchell

        I have never meet more people from different countries, cultures, and sexual orientations where no one cared about those qualities then at a game store. The only thing people care about is do you game? Let us praise the hard work of the people in the article without moving towards demonizing the easiest group of people to pick on…nerd. There is real transphobia, homophobia, and racism if you ever got to meet gang members (CnB, Aztecas, and AB). Lets treat these people as great Cosplayers not qualifier cosplayers.

        The pointing out that there are people who are marginalized in the main society who constitute the nerd community is the equivalent of telling a black guy that there are people in the black community who like rap. If you think that the nerd community is not inclusive than you really need to hang out with or know people who engage with other more mainstream societies and see how they treat marginalized people.

        And I thought the “Le Sigh” shows that I am a big Looney Tunes fan. I am not really a comic book guy but I am a husband, a father, a grandson, a son, a hard worker, and someone who donates more time to a non profit that benefits the community I am a part of than a game store nowadays.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    All cool stuff.

    As a folklorist I feel I should point out that cross-dressing and gender ambiguity as well as other forms of disguise (face paint, masks, animal disguise etc) have been part of festival as well as sacred dress for millennia and are still a central in many folk customs. Such ritual dressing up is collectively referred to as ‘guising’ in the UK.

    • Richard Mitchell

      They did it in the old Peter Pan play. I don’t think most people care about the gender bender stuff, we just like to see hard work and I would like to see more journey articles on how they accomplish that.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        it would be really interesting to see some of the modelling techniques at work.

        • Richard Mitchell

          I remember there was a whole thing on the forums and even in one of the NQs when someone went as Lilith from Hordes to Lock and Load. It was cool to see the process and I would love to see an article like that here.

  • J Mad

    Or.. just say “Hey these are cool cosplay” and leave it at that…. why does it have to be political? Let those that like to dress up, dress up…. you pointing and “hey there is a rule for it, so it makes it ok” is stupid, your just vindicating yourself…. people been cosplaying as any sex they wanted for 100’s of years, leave it at that and just move on. This whole “40k female crap” is getting out of hand, its called a hobby for a reason, b.c “You make it your way”. That means you can built, paint, read, write, anything you want.

    Leave it at that.

    PS, i stopped reading when you said “Like to drag? cosplay if for you”

    Drag and cosplay =/= the same thing or likes……

    • Richard Mitchell

      True, I mean if someone like to crossdress AND cosplay there is not an issue but let’s not conflate the two. Very disrespectful to crossdressers and their culture.

  • Damistar

    I think many are misreading the point on the article. Seems to me she’s pointing out that you can change a characters gender to try something creative. I don’t think she’s aiming any deeper than that.

    • Unfortunately, the wording she’s using shows that yes, it IS aiming deeper than that. See the above comments.

      • Richard Mitchell

        I read it, but the problem is she could have left the whole Space Marine “debate” out of the article. But by including it in this article she is linking a really good article about cosplay to another article about sexist and racism in 40k. It is like when you write a school paper and you quote or reference another work. By doing that you are linking that idea to a precedent or larger idea.

  • Carlill

    It’s always nice to see men enjoyed the Ghostbusters film enough to dress as male versions of the female Ghostbusters.

  • memitchell

    I got no vibe that this article was scolding or proselytizing. Female 40K minis are a recent topic here. And, no, NO female Space Marines. Hell NO! The Lore has done fine for 30 years without them, thank you very much. But, as for the rest, I guess Crossplay is OK. Especially since the article makes a strong case for creative expression. I like that there are people in the world who don’t share all my hangups and inhibitions.

    • euansmith

      Female Space Marines (or at least “a” female space marine) have been with us since 1993. Of course, Kev White has got a whole lot better at sculpting since then; see below 😀

      Those Space Wolves look amazing; especially the dude with the waxed mustache. I wonder if Puppetswar will bring out some waxed mustache heads.

      • Drpx

        Someone feed that poor thing.

        • Maitre Lord Ironfist

          Dude, its a space marine, everything you see is Muscle, no spine, just muscle over muscle formed into a spine made from muscle.

          She is “Death by Snusnu” incarnated 10/10

          And that Mini is hilarious :,D

    • Jonathon Runge

      When I run the 40K tabletop RPGs I allow and encourage my players to do noncanon things like female space marines or Eldar and Necron in the same party. When a setting starts off they are rather murky but solidify over time. It is very fun to explore variant realities and the infinite/multiverse nature of the warp allow for this. My main point is separation of personal preferences and core continuity that provides the base for a product’s success and appeal.

      • Richard Mitchell

        Preach it brother! You hit the nail on the head.

  • Drpx

    Where’s the 400lb bearded Sailor Moon guy I see at everything?

  • euansmith

    The original Huntress is so toe-curlingly cheesy (“Yeah, she, like a devout Catholic, and so she has this massive crucifix cut out of her leotard.”) that the male version gives me a good giggle.

  • Tore Bolhøj

    I’ve never tried cosplay, but I was into LARP back in the old days… and that involves costumes too. I had an idea for a role in a pirate scenario: a very fat lower-class woman with terrible manners and criminal tendencies, but a cheerful nature. I thought wearing a huge fat-suit would be pretty fun too. But I never had the opportunity to do it.

  • horus752

    Here we go folks..Like other hobby sites before them ( kotaku,ain’t it cool, bleedin cool,and cbr) it looks as BOL will start engaging in identity politics instead of talking about the actual hobby. This article is just a small taste on what is in store..BOL was fun while it lasted.

  • Rainthezangoose

    Gender-Bender is an incredibly inappropriate terminology…

  • Loken

    Maybe her point could have been a bit better driven, if she used 40k cosplay instead of anime and 101 dalmatians…

  • Taskmaster

    Where’s cat-man?