Reader question: Shynzaron’s actual sex

Ryan asks: what the heck is Synzaron’s actual sex?? you’re not going ot keep calling them THEM forever are you?

Robin says: First we have to establish the difference between sex and gender. If you take a glance at the Wikipedia article on the subject, which I think puts it well, you’ll see that sex is “the anatomy of an individual’s reproductive system, and secondary sex characteristics,” whereas gender “can refer to either social roles based on the sex of the person (gender role) or personal identification of one’s own gender based on an internal awareness (gender identity).” So sex is physical, and gender more spiritual or perceptual.

We’re not going to discuss anyone’s sex around here, because I’m not writing biology textbooks, human or alien. But as for gender… Shynzaron doesn’t have one. We’ll get a little detail on that in the second book, but for now that’s all I’ll tell you. So, to answer the second question, yes, I am going to keep calling them “them” forever 🙂

MangoFox adds: I’m still wondering if we could get a clue. The translation magic never provided an apparent gender for Shynzaron, and I think always referred to Shynzaron as “them”. But it seems to me like in this situation, there are a lot of potential reasons for this – moreso than for a human irl to be referred to as ‘them’. So my question is: does the reference to Shynzaron as ‘they’ have more to do with Shynzaron’s cultural mindset/biology, Shynzaron’s personal gender identity, the limits of the translation magic, or Mateus’ and the other Monster’s personal biases/level of knowledge?

Robin says: You’ve brought up a great point: there could a number of reasons for the pronoun. As I mentioned above, I’m not getting into anatomy, but the normal physiology of Shynzaron’s species has not led to the development of a concept of gender in their societies. Shynzaron’s particular society does have certain terms used to refer to a gravid person, but those are falling out of use.