So, we’ve talked about how gender changes within one culture, from person to person and from one community to another, but there’s an even larger world of gender out there to explore. Most cultures have roles that correspond roughly to our Western concepts of man and woman, but did you know that they don’t end there?
Many societies throughout time and across the globe have had additional or intermediary gender roles coexisting with their versions of masculinity and femininity. Here are a few…See what you can learn about each of these, or find some others!
kathoeys (or “ladyboys”) of Thailand.
Middle East: Xanith or khanith from Oman
Asia-Pacific: Fa’afafine (Samoan), fakaleiti (Tongan), mahu wahine (Hawaiian), mahu vahine (Tahitian), whakawahine (New Zealand Māori) and akava’ine (Cook Islands Māori) from Polynesia.
Asia-Pacific: Waria and the Bugis culture of Sulawesi from Indonesia.
Asia-Pacific: bakla (Tagalog), bayot (Cebuano), agi (Ilonggo), bantut (Tausug), binabae, bading [may be considered derogatory] and lakin-on from the Philippines.
Europe: Sworn virgins from Balkans.
Europe: Mollies from 18th Century England.
Europe: Uranian from 19th century England
Europe: Femminiello from Neapolitan culture
Africa: Ashtime from Southern Ethiopia
Africa: Mashoga from Kenya
Africa: Mangaiko from Democratic Republic of the Congo
Latin Amer. & the Caribbean: Muxe from Southern Mexico.
Latin Amer. & the Caribbean: Biza’ah from Teotilán
Latin Amer. & the Caribbean: Travestis of Latin America
Latin Amer. & the Caribbean: Guevedoche of the Dominican republic. Also known as kwolu-aatmwol in the “Sambia” community in the eastern highlands of Papua
Some of these gender roles are  highly regarded, given special status in religious rites or social functions, while others are regarded as second-class citizens, and the words describing them may be used very negatively. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Think of how different masculine and feminine roles can be in each place and time! There’s a great diversity of gender out there, each influenced by its parent culture. 


Some of these gender roles are  highly regarded, given special status in religious rites or social functions, while others are regarded as second-class citizens, and the words describing them may be used very negatively. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Think of how different masculine and feminine roles can be in each place and time! There’s a great diversity of gender out there, each influenced by its parent culture. 

So, we’ve talked about how gender changes within one culture, from person to person and from one community to another, but there’s an even larger world of gender out there to explore. Most cultures have roles that correspond roughly to our Western concepts of man and woman, but did you know that they don’t end there?

Many societies throughout time and across the globe have had additional or intermediary gender roles coexisting with their versions of masculinity and femininity. Here are a few…See what you can learn about each of these, or find some others!

  • kathoeys (or “ladyboys”) of Thailand.
  • Middle East: Xanith or khanith from Oman
  • Asia-Pacific: Fa’afafine (Samoan), fakaleiti (Tongan), mahu wahine (Hawaiian), mahu vahine (Tahitian), whakawahine (New Zealand Māori) and akava’ine (Cook Islands Māori) from Polynesia.
  • Asia-Pacific: Waria and the Bugis culture of Sulawesi from Indonesia.
  • Asia-Pacific: bakla (Tagalog), bayot (Cebuano), agi (Ilonggo), bantut (Tausug), binabae, bading [may be considered derogatory] and lakin-on from the Philippines.
  • Europe: Sworn virgins from Balkans.
  • Europe: Mollies from 18th Century England.
  • Europe: Uranian from 19th century England
  • Europe: Femminiello from Neapolitan culture
  • Africa: Ashtime from Southern Ethiopia
  • Africa: Mashoga from Kenya
  • Africa: Mangaiko from Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Latin Amer. & the Caribbean: Muxe from Southern Mexico.
  • Latin Amer. & the Caribbean: Biza’ah from Teotilán
  • Latin Amer. & the Caribbean: Travestis of Latin America
  • Latin Amer. & the Caribbean: Guevedoche of the Dominican republic. Also known as kwolu-aatmwol in the “Sambia” community in the eastern highlands of Papua

Some of these gender roles are  highly regarded, given special status in religious rites or social functions, while others are regarded as second-class citizens, and the words describing them may be used very negatively. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Think of how different masculine and feminine roles can be in each place and time! There’s a great diversity of gender out there, each influenced by its parent culture. 

Some of these gender roles are  highly regarded, given special status in religious rites or social functions, while others are regarded as second-class citizens, and the words describing them may be used very negatively. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Think of how different masculine and feminine roles can be in each place and time! There’s a great diversity of gender out there, each influenced by its parent culture. 
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