Talking about writing out of your comfort zone... An article in The Guardian talks about a U.S. writer, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who self published her series of books about a black male detective. According to Rusch, publishers wanted her books UNTIL they found out they were written by a white woman.
Here's an excerpt from the article, quoting Rusch:
"Initially, when the publishers read the book, they thought I was a black man who had participated in the Civil Rights movement and walked with Dr King. So they set up a marketing plan based (from what I can guess) on putting this imaginary Civil Rights pioneer on Oprah and talking with her about the new mystery novel. [...] When the publishers realised that I was not black, too young to be in the Civil Rights movement, and had no 'marketability' or 'platform', they withdrew the offers. The book was worth nothing to them if I couldn't tour 'with legitimacy'."
I don't know the whole story, so I don't want to say who's right or wrong here. But, personally, I don't see anything wrong with someone of one race/gender writing from the point of view of a different race/gender -- as long as the writer puts forth the best effort and does appropriate research. I've written from the p.o.v. of an elderly Chinese man before...then again, my father-in-law is Chinese! I know it won't be perfect, but then again, that's why it's fiction!