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Issue 26 • October 2017
Evolving Gender
edited by Sandra J. Lindow

Introduction to Issue 26 • Evolving Gender

Gender is a matter of performance. It presents as an interaction of our genetic heritage, our prenatal experience, and the social roles we play. I was born in 1949, a “pretty in pink” Baby Boomer, and in my lifetime, discussion of gender has moved from being very private to very public. In the last few years I have been amazed by the courage individuals have shown in their presentation of gender. Even my pedicurist, a lively young woman with a series of startling hair styles and colors, is married to a long time originally female friend who has had the hormones and surgery and become her husband. Individuals now want to be addressed as xe or xer, “they” or “them” or eschew pronouns entirely, and conventions offer a selection of badge stickers for gender protocol. Is this a temporary affectation, or are we seeing the way of the future?

Each of us comes from the union of a man and a woman, but, by definition, the DNA of conception provides a spiral staircase of genetic evolution, an intermixing of male and female characteristics. In her introduction to the 1976 paperback edition of The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), Ursula K. Le Guin wrote that human “psychological reality” can be “androgynous” “at certain odd times of day in certain weathers” and she concludes that “truth is a matter of imagination.” In other words, in recent years society has allowed individuals, mayhap grudgingly, the right to express the inner lives they imagine to be true.

For this issue, sixty-eight poets submitted between one and five poems each. In order to fit publication constraints, I looked for nontraditional takes on gender and in doing so, it was necessary to turn down some very well written, evocative pieces. The resulting twenty poems are poems of extrapolation where evolving gender is imagined in various science fictional or fantastic settings from outer space to under the sea. The poets themselves vary considerably in age and gender expression. Five of them live outside the United States. I hope you enjoy reading the following poems as much as I enjoyed choosing them.

—Sandra J. Lindow