I met up with an old friend yesterday. Back when we were in junior high, we were Doctor Who fans together when we didn't know any other Doctor Who fans. We'd phone each other up after the episodes aired every Saturday night to share our thoughts. So, when her birthday rolled around in November this year, I sent her a copy of Chicks Dig Time Lords. I wasn't entirely sure what she'd make of it, because, while she still watches the show (and we still exchange our impressions of episodes, mostly over Facebook), she's not really a part of organized fandom.
Happily, she loved the book, and we chatted a lot about it. One thing that I got a big kick out of was her telling me that the book had introduced her to a new term, "gender non-conforming". And that not only had that given her a word to describe her own experience of her gender during her childhood, but also affected the way she saw her son's behavior. (He asked for a Barbie doll for Christmas. She thought, "Fine, he's gender non-conforming," and bought him the Barbie doll. Knowing my friend, I'm pretty sure she would have still bought her son the doll even if she hadn't read Chicks Dig Time Lords, but it clearly meant something to her to have the concept of "gender non-conforming" available.)
It's a neat example of the power of science fiction fandom to inspire discussion. It probably wouldn't have occurred to me to send my friend a scholarly article about gender roles in childhood. Nor am I certain that she would have immediately related to it if I had. But put the same ideas in the context of a fannish memoir about growing up a non-girly Doctor Who fan, and suddenly we're having a conversation that we might not have otherwise had.