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05/01/2013 04:20 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

The Future Of Gender Is The Present For Trans Characters In Sci-Fi Novels

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It has been quite a ride for trans folk of late. A hundred years ago terms like “transsexual” and “transgender” didn't exist. Even the idea of gender as something separate from sex was unknown. Where might we go in the next 100 years? Well, when that sort of question comes up, people often turn to science fiction. What do the leading names in the field tell us about the future of gender?

Actually, as most science fiction critics and writers will tell you, SF often isn't about the future. That is, the authors don't generally try to predict what our world will look like in years to come. They may suggest possible futures – perhaps ones we need to guard against – but often these imagined futures are simply discussions of the present dressed up with spaceships and aliens as a means of encouraging the readers to think outside of the box.

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