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In Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, the introduction to "Chapter 4: Gith and Their Endless War" states (p. 85; emphasis mine):

If the two races were ever to team up against the illithids, [...]

Later, under the "Githzerai" section, it says (p. 93):

The githzerai were born as a race [...]

These two quotes seem to imply that the githyanki are (lorewise) two separate races. However, under the "Vlaakith's Dilemma" subheading in the description of the githzerai, it says (p. 87):

Long gone are the days when the gith race was fully embroiled in conflict.

Are the gith actually one race with two subraces, or are they two separate races?

I would prefer 5e sources that distinctly mention this, but if none are available, then sources from other editions are acceptable.

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The Githyanki and Githzerai are warring factions of the same race, Gith.

From Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes:

But after they won their freedom, two factions among the gith disagreed on what kind of civilization they would forge.

These factions are later described as the Githyanki and the Githzerai.

Further, MToF lists the two as subraces of Gith. No matter which you choose to play, the race details state, "Your character shares the following traits with other gith", then goes on to detail the specifics of each subrace.

So in the mechanical sense, they are certainly one race, but lore wise, they may be called different races of the same species in the same way we speak of different races of human here in the real world.

As I mentioned in this answer, there is no reason to believe the Githyanki and Githzerai have any significant differences in biology.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How then (if they are one race) can MToF say"If the two races were ever to team up against the illithids"? \$\endgroup\$ – ArtickokeAndAnchovyPizzaMonica Jul 9 at 10:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I explain this in the last section of my answer. In the sense that 5e uses “race” in a mechanical sense with respect to the rules, they are one race, but lore wise they may be described as two races in the same way people often describe humans of different ethnic groups as different races. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jul 9 at 10:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah Ok. I think this makes sense. I was trying to use this to help with this question, but I guess I've been overruled \$\endgroup\$ – ArtickokeAndAnchovyPizzaMonica Jul 9 at 10:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ I copied my answer to that question onto this one. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jul 9 at 10:26
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They are one race with two subraces

The history of the githzerai and githyanki are detailed in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, in "Chapter 4: Gith and Their Endless War". The Gith were originally a single race, slaves to the Illithids until they rebelled and broke free.

However, they split into two factions soon after this due to disagreements on the kind of civilisation they wanted to forge after their freedom (that's probably putting it quite mildly).

Mechanically, in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, they are presented as a main "Gith" race with two subraces for the Githyanki and Githzerai.

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