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This article is about female Transformers in general - for the Autobot resistance group led by Elita One, see Female Autobots.


Well, I remember bringing up that question early on with Hasbro, "are any of these female?" And then I think Hasbro's attitude was, 'this is a boy toy. We don't wanna have, you know, girl robots.' So, I said, "OK, just want to clarify that."

Bob Budiansky, Rusting Carcass interview

Arcee

Arcee, the most famous female Transformer

Despite being robotic lifeforms with generally non-sexual methods of reproduction, the Transformer species has almost always been shown to include both male and female gender analogues, at least mentally if not physically. Female Transformers are usually portrayed as comparatively rare, but are considered an official part of the Transformers brand in pretty much every continuity.

A List of female Transformers is available.

Fandom and Terminology

Probably because of their rarity in official fiction and toylines, female Transformers are popular plot devices in fan fiction, where the term "femme" is often used to describe them, with "mech"[1] likewise being applied to "male" Transformers. Both terms have recently appeared in a piece of official fiction: Venus magazine. This is the first instance "mech" has been used to specifically refer to a male Transformer, whereas the term has been used as a gender-neutral common noun for Transformers in various stories.

Alternative words to denote a female Transformer, all used about twice in canon, include: femme-bot,[2] fembot,[3] girl-bot[4] robot dame[5] and perhaps robotessa.[6]

Appearance

The appearance of female Transformers in most continuities would seem to suggest a level of "sexual" dimorphism is present in at least the more humanoid members of the Transformers species (the term sexual is used in a gender-based, rather than physical sense, see the reproduction link above for that whole kettle of robo-fish). In almost all cases female Transformers are portrayed as comparatively more graceful of form, and more rounded and curved in general, than their male counterparts. Often they have a more than passing resemblance to an attractive human female made of metal and wearing armor and kibble.

There are exceptions to this rule, and bulky, less overtly human-female-like characters have become more common, particularly among those who have toys. These are especially common in the Unicron Trilogy series and in latter expansions of the Generation 1 series out of Japan, when the characters are often assigned to pre-existing "masculine" toys. Perhaps the best counter-example of this type is Strika, who is female yet neither looks nor acts stereotypically feminine at all.

History

Generation 1

Within this continuity, female Transformers are a rarity, but established to have been around from the species' start. A female named Beta existed back in the slave days under Quintesson rule, and thus it seems clear females were produced alongside the males as part of the Quintessons' product lines.

No females were explicitly shown to exist among the Decepticon ranks, although the introduction of Nightbird and implications of an eventual upgrade didn't raise any questions or remarks, suggesting that female Decepticons exist (or that the Decepticons royally don't care about a soldier's gender).

27 episodes after Nightbird's appearance, female Transformers were introduced formally through the Female Autobots. Shockwave at various points expresses surprise they aren't extinct, which would seem to imply females were thought to be no longer part of the Cybertronian race. While at the time a decent (though certainly not perfect) explanation for the scarce appearances of female Transformers, it didn't stop more females from showing up in the movie and season 3. Possibly Shockwave's "statement" could be considered as retconned and overwritten, or one of the following explanations applies:

  1. They were all built/"discovered" after the events of "The Search for Alpha Trion".
  2. Shockwave constantly calls them Autobots, never Transformers or Cybertronians. It is possible female Neutrals' (and the aforementioned female Decepticons') existence was never thought over... and that none of them changed allegiance any time recently.
  3. "Female Autobot" is not used as a description, but as the team's name.
  4. This is the Generation 1 cartoon. You're not watching it for the flawless storytelling.

Females can be seen here and there among the Junkion tribe, mostly sharing Arcee's model. Wreck-Gar has a "Junkion lady" companion according to "The Big Broadcast of 2006". Just how relationships function in this isolated, media-based Transformers society is unclear, although it's notable that Wreck-Gar and his lady friend "slept" sitting up next to each other on giant thrones between television broadcast cycles. The lady's character model is actually that of a female Lithone, another mechanical race, but whether this is meaningful in any way or simple model recycling is uncertain.

In the French dub of The Transformers: The Movie (but not in the TV series), both Starscream and Shrapnel were referred to as female, with Megatron calling Starscream "une imbecile" at one point (French articles are gendered), and Shrapnel referred to as "Mademoiselle". The reason for this gender-switch was never fully explained, though it is possible that Starscream's and Shrapnel's rather high-pitched voices were mistaken for women's voices.



Shattered Glass

While in most universes the number of females on the side of good is significantly larger than the number on the side of evil, this universe has more evil ladies as a result of its status as a mirror universe. The first two introduced were Arcee and Crasher -— an (evil) Autobot and a (good) Decepticon respectively -— but since then the balance has tilted.

It would seem that female Transformers in this universe are as they are in most: few in numbers, but nothing remarkable.



Transformers: Online

Amongst the Autobot ranks are the female warriors Chìlìe Fēi Huǒ, Fēiqí Zhànjǐng, Jísù Pīlì, Jìngfēng Bīao Lún, Nù Xīng Zhàn Lún, Shēnlán Lüèyǐng, Yínhé Qíshǒu, and Yǐtài Xíngzhě.

Toys

Though many female Transformers were featured in the fiction from the early days of Generation 1, for many years they tended to either: a) not have toys made of them at all, or, b) for those very few that did get a release, end up as repaints of other molds clearly not designed with a female aesthetic in mind. Transmetal Airazor is likely the first Transformer toy designed to intentionally represent a female character.

Notes

  • In the Shout! Factory Matrix of Leadership Special Edition DVD set, an interview with Bob Budiansky features close-ups of his original handwritten notes for several characters. Intriguingly, these notes refer to Ratchet as "her" and the Autobots' "go-to gal" for repairs. While this obviously was not the final direction the character took, it does show that female characters were being considered for inclusion in the cast before someone at Hasbro told Budiansky otherwise.


References

  1. While "femme" obviously is related to the French word for "woman", it's occasionally claimed that the use of "mech" as a name for male Transformers is derived from "mec", the French word for "guy" or "dude". This is probably more coincidence than anything, though.
  2. "Just imagine all the colony worlds: naive small planetoid femme-bots, unsuspecting targets, Unguarded Energon Reserves..." -Buzzsaw, "Force of Habit" p4 (2008)
  3. Rattrap refers to Blackarachnia as "Ya emasculatin' fembot!" after she cuts the tip from his tail/sword in "Nemesis Part 2", while Animated Optimus Prime wonders in "Endgame, Part II" what chance he has in flying combat against the Lugnuts Supreme if he "couldn't handle Starscream's fembot clone" on his test run.
  4. "When we take over Cybertron, I'm gonna have a whole harem of girl-bots! Blue ones, red ones..." - Overkill, "The Art of War issue 5"
  5. In "This Is Why I Hate Machines" Captain Fanzone refers to Arcee as a "robot dame in a room"
  6. In "Enter the Nightbird", "Robotessa" is the word missing from the line "Say good night to your [Robotessa], Megatron!"
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