TL;DR: This book is a dumpster fire.
So let’s have an author that doesn’t understand sex, gender and sexuality write a story that involves ALL of those and fuck it up so spectacularly. Add to that a homophobic soldier where being gay is supposedly OK? and wow.
So the Rounds are bigender, which shows the lack of understanding about what gender is. They love as male and are loved as female, thus the bigender. Yes women are passive and males are active. You have that pile of misogyny going on here. Next you have Rounds that want to be Unigender, who sabotage everything. Add to all this the fact that Rounds are supposedly “true hermaphrodites”, both the author and translator do not use the word intersex, and that’s what makes them so special. They also have an II chromosome because the X and Y chromosomes would never create a “true bigender”. Mind you there’s talk of trans people, but it’s mostly passed off and “they aren’t real like these Rounds here”.
Now the story is about a paraste that gets released that fixes the “gender” of the Round it infects. Yes, it’s some kind of bullshit thing where it renders the sexual organ unusable and thus FIXES the gender. Of course some rounds are like “I’m still bigender” but it goes against what is written in the book that “you are your sex” as Rounds start saying they are male or female after the infection.
Did I mention this book ends on a downer?
Now Harding’s incident is that he wanted to love Veritas “as a woman” and Veritas wanted to love Harding “as a man” and does the whole gay stereotype of chasing Harding down to have sex with him, where in they get punched, laughed and and then want to take their own life. Harding here is severely “no homo” despite the whole world being open to that thing… but I guess NOT. Harding says he’s no “bisexual” and thus doesn’t want that relationship with Veritas…. which is the whole crux that the whole bigender thing is shit as the Rounds would be a different gender.
That’s the whole limitation of this book is that there are ONLY two genders, male female. Which missed the whole point of the discourse on gender, sex and such and how gender and sex are social constructs and there are a ton more genders and sex and sexualities out there than the binary.
Also punishment against Calendula is sterilization to one sex.. yup… Like the way the Rounds are treated in this book as if they aren’t human and thus they get punishments that are the types handed out to animals.