Something I had been pondering in class, but didn't really get around to talking about was a comparison between the Bugs of Starship Troopers and the Gethenians. I was considering how we responded very differently, as did the protagonists, to the bugs and the Gethenians and what some of the factors are that go into that. In class we were describing the Gethenians as so very different from us, but at the same time, according to Le Guin's constructed biological family tree both the people of Terran and the people of Gethen were descended from the same people of Hain, and Genly can "pass" as being a native of the planet, if a slightly strange one. (That also brings up the idea of "passing," which is an incredibly loaded discussion both in considering race and gender/sexuality, but I don't have the stamina or inclination to go there right now)
The Bugs had a similarly binary sexuality, even though separated by caste, so there were the drones and warriors - who we assume are male - and then the queen, obviously female. Perhaps it is that the Bugs were so much like insects that we barely compared them to ourselves, but it struck me as strange that we mentioned how different the Gethenians were when Estraven states that from a visible standpoint, and even in some cultural aspects, they're extremely similar, it's the inner biology that so very different.
I don't know if this makes sense to anyone else, but it stuck out as a thought during discussion today that we seemed more comfortable with the idea of an insect race of aliens with identifiable and stable genders that we can clearly categorize and compare to something familiar. And we seemed highly uncomfortable with the idea of this fluctuating gender and the accompanying foreign changes that result from it in society, even though solely by physical appearance the Gethenians should have been so much more familiar.
I'd be happy to hear any thoughts, as mine aren't really formed into a single cohesive argument at all. :-)