Ann Leckie on Gender

‘‘At first, I was just playing with the universe for fun. I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a society that genuinely didn’t care about gender?’ During Clarion West, I wrote a story set in that universe, and I used ‘he’ for everybody. I was totally unhappy with that. Why is male the default? Let’s make female the default! Of course, there are problems with that – serious problems. Using ‘she’ for everybody doesn’t genuinely give the impression of a society where gender doesn’t matter. (But it worked.)
‘‘The way you can’t deal with somebody without putting them into that gender pigeonhole is so strong! When you take a baby to the supermarket, everybody wants to lean over and coo at your baby, because babies are adorable. But sometimes, people lean over to coo at the baby and they stop, because they don’t know how to coo if they don’t know what gender the baby is. That blew my mind, when I had babies. They’d assume that my daughter was a boy, or my son was a girl, and I wouldn’t say anything, but at some point the truth would come out, and they’d go ‘Oh, I’m so sorry!’, like they ran over my dog or something. The baby doesn’t care, and how can you tell? There’s no reason to gender a baby.

from the August 2014 interview in Locus magazine