The old door broke open with one sure kick, and moonlight spilled into the boarded up theatre. "Come on Ukyo! This place looks cool!" shouted Ranma.
Ukyo followed hesitantly. "Are you sure we should be going in here?"
"We won't get in trouble. Pop and your dad sounded like they'd be talking all night."
"I guess so. What do you think they're doing?"
"Beats me. Let's go see what's backstage." Ranma tossed back the curtain. "Look at this! There's still costumes and makeup and props back here!"
The two children searched through dressers, closets, and boxes that hadn't been opened since before they were born. Ukyo got the first great find: a stage katana that looked impressively real. Ranma was jealous, but soon found something that more than made up for it: a wig still in good enough condition to look real. Ranma completed the outfit with a dress just a few sizes too big and started putting on some makeup.
"What are you doing, Ranchan?"
"I'm being a girl," said Ranma as she smiled at herself in the mirror.
"Okay, you'll be a girl and I'll be a boy," said Ukyo as he swung the katana confidently.
"Cool! You're a bad guy and capture me, but I'm so charming and pretty that I trick you into giving up your sword and I beat you!" She giggled and ran away with Ukyo right behind. He caught her, and used some rope to loosely tie Ranma up. The game went on, and Ranma really got into the seduction; she snuggled up to Ukyo and spoke softly into his ear. Ukyo untied her and laid down his sword to pull Ranma into an embrace.
In a flash, Ranma slipped free, catapulted over Ukyo's head, grabbed the katana, and pointed it at Ukyo's throat. In the process, the wig sailed off her head and landed on the stage. The smile of triumph on Ranma's face disappeared. She dropped the katana and turned away from Ukyo.
"What's wrong, Ranchan?"
"I... I can't be a girl; that's why I got sent away with Pop. Mom caught me dressing up and got really mad... said she would make me commit seppuku if I didn't come back a man among men. She's serious; she showed me the katana she'd use if I didn't go through with it." Ranma was shaking as she spoke.
Ukyo said the first thing that came into his head: "We'll run away. Nobody would be able to find us because I'd be a boy and you'd be a girl."
"It wouldn't work. People would know we were boys and bring us back."
Ukyo giggled. "I'm a girl, Ranma."
"Really? Wow! I thought you were a boy. Well if you can be a boy then I can be a girl." Ranma smiled, but her happiness was cut short when she saw her father in the doorway. "Oh no! Come on run!"
Ranma and Ukyo tried to get away, but Genma was blocking the only exit, and they couldn't get past him. He eventually managed to grab the two children and hold one in each hand. "Stop struggling Ranma. When are you going to stop wearing dresses and learn to be a man?"
Ranma just tried even harder to break free. "You can't make me! Ucchan and me are going to run away, and I'm going to be a girl all the time."
"Yeah!" shouted Ukyo. "I like Ranchan as a girl, and she likes me as a boy."
Genma paled. "Oh my. I can't imagine how upset that would make Nodoka..." He assumed his most fatherly tone: "Well it looks like you kids have been having fun, but its time to say goodbye." Genma chucked Ukyo and ran off with Ranma as fast as he could. Once he was out the door, he grabbed the okonomiyaki cart he'd parked nearby and kept running.
Ukyo couldn't keep up and called out to them: "It'll be okay! Just don't give up!"
Ranma promised herself she wouldn't.
Ranma Saotome: Transgender Warrior
Rain poured down on the Tendo household as two weary travelers approached it. Genma was too impatient to knock, and opened the door with one hand as he held Ranma over his shoulder with the other. He took in the scene before him: his old friend Soun Tendo and three girls he presumed to be Soun's daughters were looking at him in amazement. He dumped Ranma on the floor cleared his throat before speaking. "Greetings, Soun Tendo. I have brought Ranma to marry one of your daughters and continue the legacy of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts."
The speech seemed to bring Soun back to his senses, and he ran up to shake Genma's hand. "Welcome back old friend! I knew you would honor the pledge you made to join our families." Ranma groaned and shakily got up. "And welcome to you my new son in law!" Soun rapturously hugged Ranma, but he felt something odd and stared at Ranma's chest where there appeared to be... breasts beneath her wet Chinese shirt.
"What is this?" exclaimed Soun as he recoiled in shock.
Nabiki poked at Ranma's chest. "They're breasts, dad. Ranma's a girl."
"Ranma... is... a... girl?" Soun fainted.
"Oh, my!" said Kasumi. "Help me get father onto the futon."
Soun came to soon later, and he looked up at Genma. "Please tell me what's going on old friend."
Genma sighed. "It is truly a dark tale Tendo. Let us retire and discuss the matter over sake and shogi."
After the two men departed, Akane turned to Ranma and said, "Well I'm glad you're a girl. My name's Akane Tendo. Lets be friends!"
Ranma brightened up and said, "Okay."
"Great, let me show you the dojo." Akane lead Ranma, and spoke as she walked. "You study Kempo right?"
"Yeah, a little."
"Well then let's spar." Akane assumed a fighting stance, but Ranma just stood still with her hands behind her back; when Akane lunged forward, Ranma just quickly stepped aside. Akane looked confused for a moment, and then redoubled her assault.
Ranma felt comfortable for the first time since she'd gotten back to Japan. Practice always let her escape from the messy problems in her life to concentrate on the purity and elegance of the art. She smiled as she continued to dodge Akane's attacks. The girl had a lot of spirit but telegraphed her moves by sticking to rigid forms; she was a natural rebel who'd realize her potential if she stopped clinging to tradition. Akane wound up for a final punch, and Ranma flipped over her head leaving Akane to punch a hole in the wall; she playfully tapped Akane on the head.
Akane turned around and said, "You're really good! I'm glad you're a girl because I couldn't take being beaten by a boy."
Ranma frowned. "Why's that?"
"It's because boys are all a bunch of stupid jerks who only care about trying to date you!" Akane said with an edge in her voice.
"Oh." The peace Ranma had felt while she was sparing evaporated. "Let's go back inside."
When they got back, Kasumi led Ranma to her room and suggested she take a bath. Ranma agreed, and soon was soaking in the warm water of the tub.
She ran her hands along her body and felt all the changes that a year on hormones had given her. Softer skin came first, then her weight started shifting to the lower half of her body, then she'd started developing her own breasts! Ranma assessed them critically: they were still small enough that her baggy shirt could almost hide them entirely; that had kept her father from noticing until a week ago.
Genma sure had been surprised a week ago when he'd pulled off her shirt while cheerily shouting, "Laundry time!" After that he found her hormones and took them away. The next day he told Ranma about the fiancée thing and dragged her to Japan. It had been a week since she'd had hormones, and it was starting to drive her crazy. She dried herself off assessed herself in the mirror: pretty good, and she sure wasn't going to let herself slide back to where she'd been a year ago.
Suddenly, Ranma's reverie was interrupted as the door opened, and Akane walked in. She was as just naked as Ranma, and she looked... down there. Akane closed the door, and Ranma was too stunned to do anything for a moment. Then she threw on her clothes, and raced downstairs just as Akane started screaming.
"It's a... a... pervert!" Akane didn't know quite what else to say as she pointed her finger at Ranma.
"No wait! I can explain!"
"You're a man!"
"Shut up! No I'm not! Just listen to me!"
By now everyone else in the house was there, and Genma stepped in front of the two teens. "Yes, it is time for everything to be explained. I have already consulted with Tendo, and he has agreed not to hold Ranma's youthful experimentation against him. After all, we both did a lot of crazy stuff ourselves back in the day -didn't we Tendo?"
"We sure did Saotome," chuckled Soun.
The group sat around the Tendo dining room table, and Genma gave Ranma a severe look. "Now my boy, tell everyone here about the unfortunate mistakes you made that has led to all this confusion."
Ranma sighed, and began her story.
Ranma shouldered off her pack and took in the sight before her: over a hundred small ponds, and each had at least one bamboo pole stuck in them. Mist coming down off the mountains gave the place an ethereal, haunted quality as the sun set. She shivered and turned to the tour guide, a round little man with a cheerful face.
"Welcome to Jusenkyo, the training ground of over one hundred cursed springs. Legend says that the spirits of the people and animals who drowned here will impart their form on any who touch its waters."
Genma yawned. "I'd skip the story and just start training if I wasn't so tired from the trip up here. There any truth to those legends?"
"Not to my knowledge," answered the tour guide as he bent down to gently tap the surface of a pond. "The magic to transform one's body is not so easy to come by in these times."
Ranma eyed her father and chose her words carefully. "You said there are supposed to be human spirits here. What did they do?"
"There are many legends of such transformations: tales of springs that could grant youth, beauty, or strength. There are even tales of a spring that changed women into men and tales of one that changed men into women." The guide sensed Ranma's interest and gestured to a small, still pond. "That one, Nyannichuan."
Genma huffed, "Well we certainly aren't interested in any of that. Come on Ranma. Let's make camp and go to bed so we get an early start training tomorrow."
Sleep wouldn't come for Ranma. She slipped out of her bedroll, crept away from her snoring father, and made her way back to Nyannichuan. She stared into its waters, illuminated by the moonlight. Maybe, just maybe, if she prayed to the spirits with all her might... she plunged herself into the water and came back to the surface unchanged.
"There are many others who have done as you have done," commented the guide as he announced his presence.
Ranma pulled herself out of the pond as sputtered: "It was just a mistake! I was, uh... sleepwalking! Please don't tell Pop!"
The guide shook his head, "I do not reveal the identities of any who seek out Jusenkyo, but I do try to help when I can. Follow me." He lead Ranma back to his hut and offered her a seat at his small table. After rummaging for a bit, he took a seat himself and put a small plastic pill-bottle on the table. "Most people believe the barrier between man and woman can only be surmounted with magic, but there are other ways."
"You want to give me... sex hormones?"
"No, the bottle's empty, but it was filled by a doctor in town I know. I can arrange for you to see him, have him check your current hormone levels, and give you an appropriate prescription."
"I don't have any money."
"Send me what you think is appropriate once you have some."
"I... I don't know if I'm really a girl. I used to dress up when I was a kid, and I still think about that kind of stuff all the time. I can't imagine myself being with a girl as a guy, but I don't know if I could be with a guy as a girl or with a girl as a girl or..." Ranma trailed off and was silent for a while. "Pop and Mom would kill me -maybe literally."
"And yet, you entered Nyannichuan."
"Yeah, I always thought about how cool it would be if I could magically change. I thought about it being an accident too, like a curse. That way nobody would blame me for it, and I could just say, 'Oh well, I'm forced to be a girl. Might as well make the best of it by getting dressed up all girly-girl to seduce guys...'" Ranma blushed and looked away.
"I had a friend when I was a kid. She's the only one I've ever known who made me think I could be a girl. She told me not to give up, but I don't know about taking hormones. I don't know if I could live with being... 'in-between' for years while they changed me. I'd be half boy and half girl. I'd be a freak."
"It is a hard path, and some will mock and vilify you for walking it. The choice is entirely yours."
"Well hey, I can take anything. I'm Ranma Saotome! I mean... I'm going to meet Ucchan again someday, and I don't want to let her down... or let him down. I've never backed down from a fight before and I'm not going to now!"
"The first fight is to find the truth within yourself. Do you want this?"
"I... I mean it's dumb, but what the hell? Most everyone has dumb stuff that makes them happy. Sure, I want it, and I'll do what it takes."
The guide nodded. "I'll make an appointment for tomorrow afternoon if you can make it then."
"Well Pop will probably want me to train all day, but I can dodge him. I've been dodging that old man my whole life. It'll be no sweat. Piece of cake." Ranma stood up and quickly bowed to the guide. "Well thanks a lot for your help. I promise I'll pay you back when I can. Have a good night!" Ranma strode back to camp, lay down, and fell asleep instantly.
"The guy was really nice. I got a year's worth of hormones and managed to hide them from Pop. I was almost out by the time he noticed."
"It is a betrayal that would shock any father," said Genma sternly, "but my timely intervention will allow your body to return to its natural state. How could you refuse to embrace your manhood when it will grant you one of Tendo's fine daughters as your wife?"
"You've got to be kidding!" sputtered Nabiki. "You expect one of us to marry her?"
"One of you will marry HIM," corrected Tendo. "Well Ranma, what do you think? There's Kasumi, my eldest, age 19; Nabiki, my middle daughter, age 17; and Akane, my youngest, age 16."
"I think Akane would be best," Kasumi said hurriedly. "She and Ranma already have made friends because they both like martial arts."
"Yeah, and Akane hates boys so Ranma's perfect for her," added Nabiki.
"Wait a minute! I'm not marrying any pervert!" protested Akane.
"I told you to stop calling me that!" yelled Ranma, and they both rose to their feet.
"Look at that," said Soun. "They're acting like a couple already. This settles it: Akane will marry Ranma."
"I won't do it Dad!" said Akane. "I don't want to even look at this... wannabe girl."
"You're one to talk. I saw those thighs of yours when we were in the bathroom, and I'm the one with a girlish figure."
Akane stalked up to her room leaving Ranma lying underneath what was left of the dining room table. Kasumi started to clean up the mess, and the men went back to their game of Shogi. Nabiki shook her head as she looked at the dazed girl on the floor. "Things are going to get a lot more interesting around here."
Hi there, I'm transgender.
When I got into Ranma as a teenager, I loved the idea of a hero with a "curse" that magically changed their sex. I was to scared to even think about hormones and surgery back then, and Ranma let me dream about being a girl without having to admit that was something I wanted. I'm 27 now, and I've spent a lot of time in the intervening years dealing with those fears. I decided to write this fic because I wanted to see Ranma go through the same challenges transgender people go through in the real world and still be a hero. If you're offended, take a step back and think about the wide variety of takes on Ranma you've seen in fanfic; everyone has their own Ranma, and mine's a transgender warrior.
One last thing: thanks to my beta reader, SoulCry.