Orlando does all kinds of work with gender. The novel explores social mores about marriage, children, and appropriate occupations for women. While Orlando must face increased discrimination from poets and society once she becomes a woman writer, she also learns the value of writing from nature. Orlando's writing as a man is pretentious and abstract, and it seems to be the quality of women's writing (in this novel) that brings out essential truths from nature and from lived experience. (Check out "Characters" for more on this subject.)
Orlando’s sex change functions as a means of allowing him to access his androgynous qualities.