Sex & Gender Beyond the Binary

Sex & Gender Beyond the Binary

India now legally recognises the hijra, the traditional third gender. This map illustrates more cultures that similarly recognise gender roles beyond male-female and sexual orientations beyond heterosexuality. There are other cultures that recognise non-binary gender and sexuality not featured in this map. The Atlantic mentions the practice of pederasty amongst the warrior class in feudal Japan. The Nanshoku were a class of Buddhist monks who were allowed to take young monks-in-training as lovers in a relationship that was considered serious and binding until the young boy grew up or left their training at the monastery.

The shudō warrior practice bound an older warrior who would train and protect a younger warrior. They entered into a monogamous male relationship, though they were both free to continue having sex with women. Their sexual relationship would end once the boy became older but their friendship and loyalty was ideally maintained for life. There are various other such examples from around the world, with many examples found amongst warrior cultures such as the Sambia in Papau New Guinea and the Bacha Bazi amongst some Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan.

There are other examples still that are traditionally or religiously recognised. The Kathoey from Thailand are born biologically male but around half identify as women while the rest identify as “sao praphet song” (“a second kind of woman”); or as transgender women; or as a “third sex.” I wrote about the “Two Spirit” People found amongst Native American cultures, who make up two additional genders: the feminine man (nádleehí) and masculine woman (dilbaa). They are traditionally considered to be sacred beings embodying both the feminine and masculine traits of all ancestors and nature (

Graphic: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia via Washington Post: #sociology #socialscience

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