Hi I just saw you answer the question about your opinions on the 7th Doctor (it's the 3rd of september today, I'm sure you get many messages) and I noticed you used mostly gender neutral pronouns. I was curious if that's how you view the Doctor because I've seen posts about how gender wouldn't really be a set thing for Timelords. Thank you :)
Okay. I don’t really like engaging in these kinds of discussions on here but I’m gonna take a shot at explaining my own thoughts on this subject…
First off, yes I do perceive the Doctor to be agender. It’s not headcanon or personal preference — it has been established in “canon” many times in the past (though if we’re being honest here, I would still support it if it had not been “officially” substantiated). If we’re talking about Time Lords as a whole, I personally don’t agree that gender fluidity is the default in their society. I’m more inclined to see it as being extremely varied. Some fluctuate between genders, some are genderless, some a specific gender, etc. I don’t necessarily reject the concept of a genderfluid Time Lord society in itself. However, there is a very big problem which lies in the popular line of reasoning in support of that idea.
It seems to be commonly asserted that Time Lords can be subjected to drastic changes in their outer appearance, therefore they wouldn’t be set on any specific gender identity/identities. But here’s the thing: the notion that gender coincides with how you look on the outside is WRONG. Wrong wrong wrong. Gender ≠ physical appearance. So why would the ability to regenerate into different forms make any difference? Especially when we know that the outcome of regeneration, while manipulatable to a certain extent by some of the more capable Time Lords (e.g. Romana), is generally unpredictable?
Only the individual person knows what gender they are and the only way we know is by their explicit acknowledgement. It’s usually harder to determine with fictional characters because the writer(s) often don’t address the subject and it gets even more confusing when you have a fictional universe with as an extensive history as Doctor Who, which has numerous contributors, all of whom often have different (occasionally contradictory) ideas about the persons within the DW universe. However, “canonically” speaking, the Doctor themself — and the interactions/experiences they’ve had with others — have clearly indicated on multiple occasions over the course of their history that they are neither male nor female.
Panna: Impossible. Was he present when you opened the box?
Doctor: Yes. Most enlightening.
Panna: What’s he babbling about? No male can open the Box of Jhana without being driven out of his mind. It is well known.
– Fifth Doctor, Kinda
Amy: Oh, typical bloke, straight to fixin’ his motor.
Eleventh Doctor: That’s the thing, Amy. I am not a “typical bloke.”
Amy: [Makes accusations that she’s been led on]
Eleventh Doctor: No. No. No, no, no, no, no. It’s… not like that. That’s not what I’m like.
Amy: Then what are you like?
Eleventh Doctor: I don’t know. Gandalf. Like a space Gandalf. The little green one in Star Wars. [lightsaber noise] Whoom.
Amy: You really are not. You are a bloke.
Eleventh Doctor: I’m the Doctor.
– Meanwhile in the TARDIS, Scene 2
Dr. Petherbridge: You know, it’s not usual to have men stay…
Sixth Doctor: Oh, don’t think of me as a man. Just the Doctor.
– Sixth Doctor, An Eye for Murder
Group Captain Gilmore: He’s reliably unreliable, if you get my drift.
Seventh Doctor: A man after my own heart.
Gilmore: Except you’re not a man.
Seventh Doctor: And I have two hearts!
– 1963: The Assassination Games
“It’s hard enough trying to use your language to describe nonlinear temporal events, I could do without one of the participants being of indeterminate gender.”
– Kelsa on the Seventh Doctor, The Raincloud Man
“That’s crap!’ Sam shouted. “The Doctor isn’t your average man, at all. I don’t think he even has a gender. How can you - whoever you are - pontificate on what he’s like? He’s private. He’s untouchable.‘‘There’s something about him that makes you think he’s beyond sex.’
– Scarlet Empress
‘I can’t explain. You wouldn’t understand.’
‘Yes.’ Why did she suddenly feel on the defensive?
‘Because I’m a man and you’re a woman?’
The Doctor raised his eyebrows. ‘But I’m not a man.’
Sam opened her mouth to speak, then shut it again.
He continued,‘I’m not even human. Not even close.’
‘Can I ask you something personal?’ he [the Doctor] said.
I.M. Foreman nodded. ‘I warn you, though. If it’s anything to do with how I got this body, the details are going to be messy. You’ve never been a woman, have you?’
‘I’m not sure I’ve ever even been a man. That’s not what I was going to ask.’
– Interference, Book One.
Once, there was a man called the Doctor, although he was not precisely a man and that was not his real name.
– Jamon de la Rocas, The Slow Empire
(more can be found here, where I borrowed the above examples from)
As for other Time Lords, that’s generally less clear and really based on individual interpretations/headcanons.
The Doctor does not appear bothered about being referred to with masculine pronouns but I favour using them/they/their when I talk about this character because
a) some people refuse to use those terms as singular pronouns for other n.b. individuals who specifically ask to be identified as such, despite the long history of its usage in real life;
b) I want to openly acknowledge the existence of non-binary individuals, fictional or not, because representation is important and representation by well-known/popular characters like the Doctor even more so;
c) again, it has already been openly, unambiguously stated that they are NOT binary-gendered on numerous occasions over the course of their personal history and lifetimes
On Time Lords in general: I don’t have any issues with people headcanoning them as genderfluid — some of them probably are and people are free to explore their own interpretations of different characters — HOWEVER it does bother me a lot when the basis of that idea is their capacity to regenerate into different physical bodies.
Gender and identity do not work that way.