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Xanith, also written as “khanith” is a vernacular Arabic term for both “mukhannath” and “khuntha”. “Mukhannath” refers to individuals with a gender identity that is discordant with their visible sexual organs. They are characterized as “effeminate”, “not clearly male,” and as people who were “born as a male” and who nevertheless feel, behave, and (in most cases) dress like a female. “Khuntha” refers to intersexed human beings.

John Money summarizes material presented by U. Wiktan in an article entitled “Man becomes woman: Transsexualism in Oman as a key to gender roles.” (Man (N.S.) 12:304-319, 1977.) According to that account, the xanith (pronounced hanith) is the gynecomimetic partner in a homosexual relationship. A gynecomimetic individual may retain his public status as a man, despite his departure in dress and behavior from a socio-normal male role, providing that he also gives proof of a legal marriage to a woman and proof of having consummated that marriage. The clothing of these individuals must be intermediate between that of a male and a female. His social role includes the freedom to associate with women in the entire range of their social interactions, including singing with them at a wedding (instead of playing a musical instrument as would a male), but he can travel about unaccompanied as would a male, live unaccompanied, be hired as a domestic servant, and to be hired by men as a prostitute. There is no element of feminizing the body, either by surgical or pharmacological means.

(See: John Money, Lovemaps, Prometheus Book, 1993. ISBN 0-87975-456-7.)

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