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Third gender

Third gender was used from the late 19th century to describe people who did not fit into the then existing gender categories:

  • female genitalia = female identity = female behaviour = desire male partner
  • male genitalia = male identity = male behaviour = desires female partner

Today this scheme is also known as binary gender system or heteronormativity since female and male are the only two genders widely recognised.

The third gender may include (in Western terms):

Third gender was widely used until World War II in Europe. It never went completely out of use, but was kept alive in the subcultures of the people described by it. In recent years it has made a comeback. Occasionally other gender is used instead of third gender. Also, some people who feel they are neither male nor female, but not androgynous either, identify as third-gendered.

Non-Western cultures often had or have accepted gender roles for third-gendered people, for example the American Indian berdache and two-spirit people, the mahu in Polynesia, or the Indian hijras (a.k.a. arivanna). Recently, some Western cultures have begun recognising third genders in law; such as Australia and Germany.

See also