An androgyne is a person who can shapeshift between male and female forms. One sex is "dominant" over the other; that is, the person can spend as much time as desired in the dominant sex, but can only switch over to the alternate sex for a limited period of time. Such individuals are almost always humans who have received the androgyne variant of the Curse of Metamor, although it is possible to give someone the same powers through the use of strong magic.
Androgynes are viewed with curiosity throughout most of the world, and outright fear in some places. In Metamor City, however, they are extremely common, comprising fully 20% of the population. Of the three variants of the Curse, the androgyne variant has by far the fewest complications and a number of distinct advantages, especially since Kyia tweaked the Curse to allow its recipients to return to their born sex for limited periods of time. Once it became possible to control which type of Curse people received, the androgyne variant quickly became the most common form requested, and many Keepers today view it as a blessing rather than a curse.
To become an androgyne, one must first be susceptible to the Curse. This means only humans, Breed, and Plane-touched can be androgynes. The Curse does not affect full-blooded lutins because Nasoj specifically excluded his front-line warriors from the spells' effects; Breed, however, are human enough that the Curse recognizes them as a valid target. Silvaan are protected from the Curse by the magic of their Elven blood, which shields their bodies from the Curse and prevents it from affecting them. Plane-touched have magic in their blood, as well, but it is not of the same character as Elven blood and does not grant any resistance to transformation magic.
Being an androgyne means spending your life with one foot in each of two different worlds; people will interact with you differently depending on which sex you are at the moment, and if they know you are an androgyne, they'll probably treat you differently from a "natural" member of either sex. These differences in treatment are less pronounced in Metamor City than in other parts of the world, but they are still present. Androgynes usually have thick skins and take pride in what they are, embracing their uniqueness and the distinct perspective they have on both sexes.
Androgynes tend to be energetic and instinctively sensual. Nasoj intended the original First Curse to create willing pleasure slaves for his warriors to enjoy, and while their impulses have been greatly dampened by the Keepers' counter-spell, sexuality remains a heavy component of the androgyne mindset from puberty on. Androgynes tend to be naturally flirtatious, give little regard to nudity taboos (except in public, where they are usually respectful of others' feelings), enjoy social interaction, and are generally comfortable with open discussion of sexual matters. Many are bisexual in orientation, though this is by no means universal; when an androgyne favors one sex over the other, it is usually the sex that would correspond to a heterosexual orientation for the born sex. Sexual orientation may differ depending on what form the androgyne is currently in. Androgynes are always uncommonly beautiful or handsome in their dominant sex, and usually quite attractive even in their born sex. Androgynes are not necessarily promiscuous -- though many are -- but they are usually comfortable with their sexuality and embrace it fully in whatever form they're currently inhabiting. An androgyne in female form will not usually act like a man stuck in a woman's body; if anything, she will embrace her feminine side more enthusiastically than many born women, choosing clothes that many might see as impractical for the sake of better showing off her body. Androgynes in male form tend to be bold and energetic, showing a marked preference for sports and activities that involve direct, physical competition with other males. These personality traits will, of course, be expressed differently in each individual, but the general trends are still noticeable.
Androgynes usually dislike monotony and gravitate toward professions that provide variety, excitement, or ample opportunity for social interaction. Field scientists, news and entertainment reporters, sales representatives, professional athletes, and entertainers of all kinds all count many androgynes among their numbers. Perhaps inevitably, many androgynes are also drawn to the sex industry, where their instinctive sensuality makes them enthusiastic workers.
Androgynes are also increasingly common in the Psi Collective, as the surplus of male psis and the pressure to have children have led some men to take drastic action to ensure themselves a place in a breeding cell. Click here for more details.
Most androgynes live in Metamor City or its immediate outskirts, but handfuls of them are found here and there throughout the rest of the Empire.