Gender in SLOne of the coolest things about Second Life is, if you can think it, they probably have an avatar for it. In real life, we only get one body and are stuck with it until it wears out. Your body, SL and RL, is a winged vehicle of your imagination and is shaped by it. Take full advantage of SL and let it help to stretch your imagination. We are not limited to just one either. Face it, Ironman isn't going to feel very welcome in a MLP sim. Some people don't mind always looking the same and doing the same things, week after week, If you like new adventures and things to learn, like me, you'll soon have almost as many avatars as LMs.
Another important selection, you get to make in how you present yourself, is gender. In many cases, with a few clicks of the mouse, you can change from male to female. Do men play as women in SL? Yes, a lot. There are also many cases of women playing as men. It is impossible to find exact numbers, but I've heard guesses of over 50%. I've also heard of many clever attempts to determine true gender by speach patterns or sign up name, One girl told us, girls don't have numbers after their name, like "Susie2013". only boys would be lazy enough to take the next name in line. Recently, I heard that boys write "LOL", in chat, way more than girls. One guess is as good as another.
Why do they do it? No doubt, there are as many reasons as there are people doing it. In the first place, it is like a Prime Directive of SL. You can, and should become, anything you can become. Perhaps, because, by default, the camera always follows behind the avatar, if a guy is going to have his nose hauled behind a butt, it may as well be one he likes to watch jiggle. There are many cases of ye ol' "woman trapped inside a man's body" players that can live out the change in SL, when it may be too painful and expensive in RL. Whatever the reason, it is your right, given by our Linden, who art in heaven.
Should they tell us the truth? The rules state that our real life self is off limit to others, unless you are willing to share it. Some wear tags, boldly announcing their status. Others only answer when asked by good friends. Pitty those that won't let anyone know. It is said, a cloak that hides you from your friends will also hide your soul from you. Getting to know the real life people, behind your avatar friends, allows you to see through each other's eyes, increasing the Love and Oneness shared. Where there is Oneness, there is no duallity, hence, no gender.
To female or not to female, aye, that's the question. Now, go have fun, finding the answers.