I am browsing the book for Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade, and found a page I really like. This is always the case, because the game takes place in the imagination, but it is nice to hear it be presented up front.
Genre, Gender, Race and Inclusiveness
By default, Tianxia’s setting is more inclusive than Imperial-era China but it still presumes a fair amount of similarity with that period. Thus gender roles are less defined and non-heterosexual orientation is less polarizing, but there are still certain vague expectations. However, this need not be the case.
GMs can tailor gender roles, attitudes towards sexual orientation, and social expectations based around these factors as much as they like. Women warriors are hardly uncommon in Tianxia as is, but they can be made even more common if you like. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered characters already exist and are generally accepted by many, but their level of acceptance can match or even exceed what we see in modern society, if desired. Do whatever is most fun and enables play. In fact, a fairly famous wuxia movies series, the Swordsman Trilogy, revolves around a skilled warrior who learns incredibly powerful martial arts, resulting in the character switching genders from male to female as their internal energies transform their body. So, not only are these ideas totally fine on their own, they are supported by the media that inspires Tianxia.
Likewise, the default Tianxia setting presumes the vast majority of people are of East Asian ethnicities roughly matching those of China. This is reflected in the art, names, and other setting elements. That does not mean you cannot populate the Shénzhōu setting with people of all ethnic backgrounds; in fact, it will not break anything to make characters white, black, or even reframe the whole setting as nothing but anthropomorphic animals. Such changes might alter the feel of the setting somewhat, but not necessarily for the worse. You can find support for such ideas in the inspirational media, with movies like Man with the Iron Fists presenting characters of various ethnicities. There is even another role-playing game, Jadeclaw, where the PCs are all anthropomorphic animals in a setting similar to Tianxia’s.