The word third gender is widely used to refer to those who are not of two “basic” genders. There’re a lot of people who are neither of the basic genders or contains characteristics of both genders. They, for their sexual identity, are deprived in many ways all across the world. There’s a common tendency that people misunderstand sex with gender and that is when they start to form a discriminatory behavior according to sexual characteristic.
Sex and gender – these two terms have the history and reality to be used interchangeably but, in this century, when we talk a lot about individual rights and liberalism, it’s very fundamental to acknowledge the difference between these two. Sex is a biological phenomenon. It indicates the biological differences naturally we are born with like genitals or the reproductive organs. Where sex is totally natural, to a large extend gender includes some sophistication. gender is a complex term which may indicate the socially constructed identity of a person, it may indicate the different role of male and female, it can be how a person sees him or herself. When the assigned gender role by society doesn’t fit or align with the sex they are called transgender or non-binary people.
Trans gender are those whose gender identity doesn’t match the sex they are born with. A transgender person can be addressed as she in spite of being born with the physiology of a male. We often confuse the transgender with intersex condition or refer the intersex as transgender. Intersexual are those who are born with a sex anatomy which certainly doesn’t fit the male or female sex criteria.When people of intersex comes under treatment to change their sex then they can be referred as trans sexual (Brito, 2019). However, all these sexual identities in different societies are referred as third gender.
In different culture gender has been defined in different ways according to myth or religion or just with years of practice. In most of the western countries heterogeneity is seen as normal and the rests are defined as sick, disordered or insufficiently formed (Sell,2004).
In India, the Hijras are widely referred as third gender. They are physically male who from a very early age wears cloths like females and adopts stereotypical female behavior and gender roles. They are recognized as a separate entity who formed their very own culture and norms.
In Philippines, the gay men and trans women are called the third gender typically. Gender variant women which in western term is called tomboy are also referred as third sex in Philippines. Local terms for third gender might include Bayot, Agi, Bantut etc. (Nanda,1999)
In Albania, there are some women who dress like man and play all the male gender role and as a part of that they live in “man only” places. They are called sworn virgins and are referred as third gender. (Young, 2000)
Being “different” from the mainstream population the third gender people often face discriminatory behavior and hatefulness. For instance, in India the state of being Hijra is seen as being cursed and considered as bringer of bad luck and infertility. Though there are established laws for them they still have to beg or work as sexual worker to live. (Patel,2012)
Not only in India but also all across the world people with minor sexual and gender orientation face thousands of barrier to live a normal life. No person deserves to be hated for their gender or sexual identity. It’s us who being acknowledged about the normality of not being stereotypical binary gender have the very first step to ensure their normal lives as other human beings in society.
Sell, Ingrid M. “Third gender: A qualitative study of the experience of individuals who identify as being neither man nor woman.” The Psychotherapy Patient. 13.1/2 (2004): p.132
Young, Antonia (2000). Women Who Become Men: Albanian Sworn Virgins.
Patel, atish,2012, India’s shunned transgenders struggle to survive, Reuters https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-transgenders-idUSBRE84G06020120517
Nanada Serena (1999). Gender Diversity: Crosscultural Variations.
Brito, Janet, 2019, Is There a Difference Between transgender and Transsexual? ,Health line https://www.healthline.com/health/transgender/difference-between-transgender-and-transsexual