TL;DR: Make all characters, equipment, and cosmetic elements gender-neutral.
"Gender" in MapleStory serves no gameplay purpose. Male and female characters have exactly the same stats, the same skills, and the same quests (rarely with minor dialog differences), with the exception of classes that are gender-locked due to story reasons (Mihile, Angelic Buster, and Zero).
A character's "gender" is also unrelated to the player's gender. Any player can make characters of both genders.
The only thing a character's gender does is restrict the player's cosmetic customization choices. You can only use half the hairstyles and half the faces, and there are many cash shop equipment items and in-game anvil choices that are blocked by the gender you are using. These restrictions don't even do a particularly good job at preventing people from dressing up as the "opposite" gender, because there are "April Fool's" hair and face styles, and there are such things as gender-neutral facial hair face accessories, or gender-neutral (or even outright Male) frilly dresses. So while people intent on cross-dressing their characters (which, I remind the reader, don't even have to have the same gender as their owners) can do so, ordinary players who simply like an item that happens to have the opposite gender to their character, can't use it. (For example, randomly looking at this week's Cash Shop Update, it shows the Paper Box and Ghost Uniform overall as Male. How are they male? The box is just a box and the ghost uniform is a black dress, but "female" characters can't wear it?). And the popular gender-neutral CRA top and bottom have very few Fusion Anvil choices, simply because most top and bottom items in the game, even basic T-shirts, have a gender.
Gender also restricts a character's ability to share "couples" cash items with other characters, or to "marry" them.
Despite these restrictions, the gender of a character does not actually affect how it it rendered. Anyone who has used BannedStory or any other character simulator knows that the game only has one shape for a head and body sprite, and that, graphically, you can put any hairstyle/face/equipment on any character, mixing and matching genders, without causing any hitch in its animation.
So, I suggest that the "gender" attribute simply be removed from the game. Make all characters, as well as all equipment, hairstyles, and faces, "gender neutral". Let the users customize their characters in any way they see fit. If a user wants to make a feminine-looking character, they can. If they want a masculine-looking one, they can. And if they want a character with a buzzcut and a dress, they can do that too. This will also enable any two characters to get married or share a couple ring/shirt/chair/etc.
As for the gender-restricted clases:
- Mihile has no better reason to be gender-locked than Phantom, really.
- Zero is both genders anyway. Its starting story can continue to be about a boy and a girl, but once that's done, let the players dress them as they please.
- Angelic Buster's story quests might seem to "require" that it be female (and its transformed form be extra feminine), but even right now AB players are allowed to customize their character and make it look quite a bit more "butch" than the story implies. The story can continue to be about a magical girl, while giving the players even more customization freedom.
and 3 others.