I am writing about a fictional species that shows up in 1 of my stories. I call them Keplerians because the planet they live on has Kepler in it's name.

My Keplerians are externally gender neutral for 5 years. Now genetic testing will reveal gender but they don't do routine genetic testing.

Obviously if a young Keplerian goes to the doctor due to abdominal issues such as abdominal pain, an ultrasound or other form of medical imaging will be used to scan the abdomen and in the process the gender will be revealed.

But for Keplerians who are healthy, should gender be revealed before it is externally obvious? More specifically, is it ethical?

  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this seems to be best suited to worldbuilding.SE ...
    – virmaior
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 0:13
  • Well I did post it on Worldbuilding SE and they said it would be best suited for Philosophy SE.
    – Caters
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 0:57
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    Is it ethical according to whom? I suggest getting rid of Keplerians (we have no clue what their ethical values might be), formulating a similar dilemma that makes sense for humans, and specifying what school of thought is supposed to supply the ethics (utilitarianism, deontology, virtue, etc.). Without that the question is too fanciful and too opinion prone for this SE.
    – Conifold
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 1:14
  • I think the reason it's being bounced between WB and philosophy is because it's a fictional species, but we're using the word "should." Philosophy doesn't focus on fictional species (unless it proves a philosophical point), and WB isn't all that big on "should" or "ought." Those are Philosophy words. You might be able to rescue the question by turning it into a more general question about how gender "ought" to be treated. There is most certainly existing literature on the topic which you could then adapt to the specifics of Keplerians.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 5:30

2 Answers 2


This really belongs somewhere like worldbuilding, not here. But I tend to just answer stuff knowing the result will be discarded...

Mary Gentle has a similar species, who get a gender at the dawn of puberty. She actually points out that in a society that is still very labor-intensive and leans toward huge families as a consequence, it can be very inconvenient for someone to not have known whether they will get the added boost of muscle development and size, or whether they will be in charge of a household of their own children. She has characters who are very well-practiced in fighting, but never attain the height necessary to make it a profession because they become female. Or who grow up male and miss the time they used to spend with children because they are required to earn money for their own spouses, who are tied up at home with their children.

So I think the answer has to depend upon the level of technology and how much that sorts the kinds of jobs people do by gender. In a modern world, where most people don't, for instance, carry things for a living or simply apply force to things for hours and hours a day in attempts to shape them to their will, where motherhood is not a permanent full-time job in its own right, because we don't have as many children as possible, and where even effectiveness in war and personal safety are equalized by technology, there would be no reason to care what gender you were growing into.


Let’s phrase this question to humans, as to keep with philosophy.

First, how much importance is stressed on gender in society? Are there norms that one gender must conform to while the other gender has their own norms? Is there inequality in this society based on gender?

Second, does gender give significant information as to how the person will be like? Will that person be raised as that gender, or feel free to express their own?

If imposing gender on a creature imposes significant inequality, good or bad, or certain restrictions, or even expectations, it might be best to allow that human to grow into their own gender.

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