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If I recall my very fuzzy history of Dr. Who, the Doctor always regenerates as a man, of roughly the same approximate age and height, and roughly the same nationality and 'race'.

Ignoring for now the possibility of a Doctor with a different skin tone or accent, has there ever been a regeneration in side-canon where the Doctor became a woman?

More to the point, is it even possible for this to happen?

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Yes, but not in anything resembling canon

It happened during the The Curse of Fatal Death, which was a Comic Relief parody of Doctor Who. Joanna Lumley, of Ab Fab fame, played The Doctor.

In the normal show, however, it remains a possibility, at least according to Moffat:

"One day I'm reasonably confident somebody in this [showrunner] role - whether it's me or someone else - will say not, 'Let's cast a woman', they'll say, 'That person, that's the one who could the be the Doctor'. You're just casting someone that you think will set that role on fire. I think for now that is Peter - I thought it was Matt [Smith] before - it's not about the gender thing."

In-universe, The Doctor refers to The Corsair as specifically swapping genders. He's mentioned in the regular series during The Doctor's Wife:

DOCTOR: The mark of the Corsair. Fantastic bloke. He had that snake as a tattoo in every regeneration. Didn't feel like himself unless he had the tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times. Ooo, she was a bad girl.

So in-universe it can happen, out-of-universe it has been alluded that it might happen specifically for The Doctor

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  • And tbh, even if there was an in-universe "reason" - they would write around it if they wanted to cast a woman. Just like the regen limit. – joshbirk Mar 19 '14 at 16:27
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    The Corsair, mentioned in The Doctor's Wife (and probably other places not off the top of my head), has changed genders. – Sconibulus Mar 19 '14 at 16:27
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    Also, in the episode "The Doctor's Wife" the Eleventh Doctor said the following about another Time Lord called "The Corsair": "He had that snake as a tattoo in every regeneration. Didn't feel like himself without the tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times. Ooh, she was a bad girl!" So unless the Doctor was lying, this shows it's a possibility for Time Lords to change gender when they regenerate. – Hypnosifl Mar 19 '14 at 16:28
  • Ah thanks, added - I thought there was a specific example, and good on Gaiman for bringing it into the show where canon isn't a big issue. – joshbirk Mar 19 '14 at 16:32
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    In "Hell Bent", the Doctor shoots the General who switches gender in his/her regeneration. Given that it happened to that timelord, no reason it couldn't also happen to the Doctor. – Anthony X Jul 4 '16 at 22:53

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