Mon 16 March 2020
(my comments on “LF Fics to introduce me to fem!Harry by u/frostking104” Reddit thread)
There are two types of fem!Harry stories:
Where Harry (with a different name, of course) is naturally a girl, always was and always will be. Usually, I guess, the motivation is that the author is a woman, and she feels uncomfortable writing from the male point of view (I know something about that, somehow, without me wanting it, most of my stories have a female protagonist, and it is really hard). For some of them the difference in result is minimal (I like The Videus Charm by OfPensandSwords as an example), for some of them it leads to completely different stories. I like Victoria Potter by Taure and I really liked the very good setup of The odds were never in my favour by Antony444, but it turns kind of weird in the second year and later with the hidden cabala running the world and similar crap. Also, for very different story Tea Cures All Ills by delizabethl22.
Gender-bender stories, where Harry was originally our Harry from the books, but then something weird happened and he turned to a girl (or he was born as a girl and then his sex was magically hidden and now he/she turns back into his natural state). There are many wrong reasons why somebody could write such a story. First, and I am afraid it applies to most of them, the author wanted to write a lemon and femslash was juicier for (I guess, usually) him. One unashamedly so is IMHO 11396276 and I will leave it at that (other is 4699043). Or there is non-smutty, just fun, variant in Pranking The Tournament by Gardevoir687.
The second is that they are Snape/Draco fans and they didn’t want to write a slash story, so they turned Harry into a girl to suit them better to their planned pairing. One classical example would be Snape's Daughter by Tribi with the unbelievably horrible choice of name for the main protagonist (I won’t even write it here). I am not a big fan of either Snape or Draco, so when the story turned to be Drarry, I quit, and I remember just the overall feeling about it now. A reasonably good variant on this theme is Becoming Harriet by Teao, where the pairing is with the Snape’s AU son, and it suffers from the deluge of smut (including some of the most obnoxious tropes like magical-hormone-makes-you-horny), but if you skip that, there is a rather good story hidden beneath it.
An alternative to that “something weird happened” is A Fair Life by Rtnwriter, where it is Harry (the canonical male one)’s death in the Forbidden Forest at the end of DH and returning as a girl on the eve of the announcement of champions for the Triwizard tournament and it is so far rather decently written Hermione/Harry femslash (not even too smutty). Similar idea with different execution is A Different Perspective by StellaStarMagic, where the canonical Harry jumps after Sirius into the Veil in the Death Chamber of the Department of Mysteries, but he is kicked back by rather Pratchettish Death into being a twin-sister of more or less canonical Harry Potter just before the letters from Hogwarts are delivered to them. She is sorted as a Hufflepuff, and it develops into so-far interesting timeline repair story.
Usually, the sticky part of gender bender stories is the treatment of unease of the former Harry with him being a female suddenly with all bits in wrong places. One example of rather anxious treatment of the situation is To Reach Without by inwardtransience which turns into the rather interesting pairing of Harry/Susan Bones, but again further the development, weirder it becomes.