In the episode we first meet the Borg (Q-Who) a drone enters the engine room. Picard and Q are watching it analyzing the systems as Q states that this Borg is "Not a he, not a she". Now how literally do we have to take this?

Was there a need to reconstruct parts of Picard and Seven when they were freed? We know that their digestive-system is massively changed on assimilation. So there might be need to adopt the "output-ports" of a human accordingly. Is it just an statement that they have no sex in the sense that they don't reproduce in traditional ways, so "he and she" has no meaning in the collective? Or is Q not referring to the drone but to the Borg as a whole? But when the collective as a whole presents itself it chooses a clearly female appearance and refers to it as "Queen". Was it a lie? But why should Q lie on such a subsidiary point?

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    You might want to bear in mind that 'gender' and 'sex' are widely viewed as two different concepts. Which one do you mean now, exactly? Apr 4, 2014 at 8:10
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    I don't think the Borg have a gender, as that is a social concept, which in everyday Borg life doesn't have any relevance. I think that is what Q wanted to point out. Apr 4, 2014 at 8:17
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    @PaulD.Waite: Makes sense! But the crew has met genderless species before - hadn't they? But it's still a good explanation...
    – Einer
    Apr 4, 2014 at 8:18
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    @Einer: well you would have thought so. But I’m not sure if there was an actual episode prior to Q Who featuring a genderless humanoid species. Imagine it in classic Trek. “KIRK: But how. Do I. Choose. Which one to. Kiss?!” Apr 4, 2014 at 8:30
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    @Einer: on the Borg Queen, her gender, like Locutus’ name, had a specific purpose. Apr 4, 2014 at 8:31

3 Answers 3


I think to reconcile what Q is saying, with what we later find out about the Borg, he has to be describing the Borg's lack of individuality disallowing specific gender identity. While wired into the Collective, male or female designation for Seven of Nine would serve no purpose, but biologically she would still be female.

Out of universe it's possible that they were originally intended to be genderless biologically as well. A lot of things about the Borg have changed over time, like how originally they were only interested in acquiring new technology, not people. It's possible that as new storylines evolved, so did the Borg.


I believe male and female drones are physiologically different and retain psychological gender differences only subconsciously. But as far as the collective is concerned, they're functionally interchangeable.

Based on following observations:

  • Seven of Nine's original Borg armor was built to conform to her breasts and er, her hip area. This is also true of the other female drone that crash landed with her in the episode Collective.

  • Borg do not seem to mess with genitals -- consider the episode where Chakotay finds himself in a colony of former drones who crash landed on a planet. They seem to have formed families without having access to any reconstructive surgical technology.

  • In Unimatrix Zero, active drones clearly regain their gender identities while they are in the dream/virtual state.

  • The Borg seem to accommodate physiological differences of species when converting them to drones to some extent. Consider Seven of Nine's comment about the suitability of Talaxian physiology for drones. We can assume that this is true of the physiological differences of genders as well.


With regards to why Q described the drone as “Not a he, not a she” — in the context of the episode, this looks like Q highlighting how foreign the Borg are to the Federation.

The whole point of Q taking the Enterprise to meet the Borg was to make the point that there are life forms in the galaxy for which the crew has no adequate frame of reference.

Picard, you are about to move into areas of the galaxy containing wonders more incredible than you can possibly imagine... and terrors to freeze your soul.


Right after he describes the apparent gender-neutrality of the drone, Q hammers his point home again:

Interesting isn't it? Not a he -- not a she. Not like anything you've ever seen.


Q was attempting to narrate their reactions to this drone, rather than give a full and complete description of the Borg as a species/collective.

With regards to Borg gender in general, it seems that drones don’t exhibit much in the way of gender-specific appearance or behaviour, unless the Collective decides that special circumstances make it advantageous. Specifically:

  • In The Best of Both Worlds, Picard is turned not just into a Borg drone, but into Locutus — a Borg with a name. It’s not particularly relevant to gender, but this, I think, is their attempt to adapt to the Federation’s love for individuality and negotiation. Look, here you go, here’s a Borg with a name you can talk to about how we’re going to assimilate you all. You’re happy now, right?

  • In Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg Queen attempts to use sexual gender relations to make Picard and Data do what she wants. I think this is because humanity has proven a particularly difficult assimilation nut to crack, so they’re breaking out time travel and sexy disembodied aliens in an effort to get it done.

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    Interestingly enough, Borg seemed to have been patterned after insects... where the drones can be males (ants) or females (bees) but always SAME gender Apr 8, 2014 at 19:43

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