'And the really WEIRD thing,' said Du'thuen, 'was that we were actually on the verge of making first contact with them a number of times, but they kept getting hung up on gender.'
'WHAT?' Spluttered Hnngal. 'How in the stars could an advanced species get hung up on THAT? What's to ponder?'
'Well, incredibly enough, it seems they spent most of the centuries after becoming a type 0.5 part-global civilisation believing it was possible to assign gender at birth, based mainly on secondary sexual characteristics.'
'That is...that's almost inconceivable, Du'thuen! Even the thought-herders of Nagesh-3 weren't *that* foolish! '
'You're vibrating at the mufulon here, Hnngal, believe me. As best we can figure out, the problem derived from industrialisation occurring in precisely the one planetary culture not sophisticated enough to handle it. I mean, the sheer number of wars alone...'
'Yes, one of the Remnants I spoke to on the Star Sanctuary said much the same thing. He said the problem was the...pale person?'
'"The white man" was, I believe, the term, but yes. We wanted to intervene at Vorthruk/Naaal criticality but they just could NOT get over this gender thing. Eventually some factions in the Council began advocating more drastic measures, there was even a breakaway group...'
'Ah, yes, the...Schwanian League?'
'Quite. They actually took to forcibly abducting members of the population and subjecting them to increasingly odd pranks in an effort to break them out of their conditioning.'
'Did it work?'
'Look around you,' Du'thuen sighed, as the mist subsided and hir dorsal talons cleared a space out of the bones underfoot. 'Does it LOOK like it worked?'