First: Happy 6000th!
Second: Really hope a playable MC female is in the cards... I love customizin'.
B) Its definitely there, you can see the gender option at the very start of the character customization part of the demo, but the guy playing had to fly through as many menus and as much cutscene time as possible to get to the gameplay while still showing off.
Also, some things I forgot to mention during my recap:
Classes level independently from Inner (re: Character) levels.
It also seems like Classes have additional stats on top of your Inner core stats (it looked like Inner was responsible for Str, Def, Ether, and either E. Def or Agi).
And Arts level through use now instead of dumping an accumulated point resource (which is both a good thing and a bad thing since it seems like there's going to be a shitload of Arts now, but it also means that some Arts are going to be stuck at level worthless, especially in cases of hard to use Arts like Dunban's Thunder was in XBC1).