Keynote #2 (Friday, December 7, 2018)

Cheryl Morgen (Independent Scholar):
"Systems of Sex and Gender"

Science Fiction has created many intelligent alien species, but all too often these are simple variations on the human pattern. In particular, they tend to follow the binary gender structure and heterosexual relationship pattern that we are taught is "traditional" for humans, and which we often project onto the animal world and history. In practice, Earth's creatures exhibit far more variation in reproductive strategies than we give them credit for, exhibit fewer or more than two genders, and seem perfectly relaxed about same-sex relationships. Even human history is far more varied than "traditional" Western culture allows. This talk will look at the glorious variety of animal and human approaches to sex and gender, and will be illustrated with examples taken from science fiction that manage to break away from the cisnormative and heteronormative pattern, including Ursula K. Le Guin's Gethenians and Martha Wells' Raksura.

Cheryl Morgan is a Hugo Award-winning publisher and science fiction & fantasy critic. She started Emerald City, one of the first online science fiction book review zines, in 1995. It won her a Hugo Award in 2004. Three more Hugos followed, including two while working for Clarkesworld Magazine. Cheryl is the first openly transgender person to win a Hugo, and she writes regularly on trans themes in science fiction and fantasy, including an essay in the 2017 book Gender Identity and Sexuality in Fantasy and Science Fiction. Cheryl also regularly gives lectures and papers on diversity in SF&F, including at the universities of Sussex, Liverpool, Anglia Ruskin, Bristol, La Trobe, and Bologna. In 2017, Cheryl was a member of the jury for the Tiptree Award. She own and runs Wizard's Tower Press. You can read more about her at Cheryl's Mewsings and follow her on Twitter.


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