Anthropological Concepts: Multiple Gender Identities

Glass tubes in the colors of the rainbow

In a previous blog post, you learned about gender and culture. This post will talk more about cultural ideas of gender, specifically multiple gender identities.

When you think about yourself, do you feel like a male or a female? That’s gender identity.

Gender identity means whether a person feels like a male, or female, or something else. It is a person’s perception or sense of themselves as male, female, or something else. (It is different from sexual orientation, which is sexual attraction to people.) 

For example, in the United States, there are two gender categories, male and female. This kind of gender system with two opposite genders is called a gender binary. “Bi” means “two”, so a binary gender system has 2 options, male and female.

Many people assume that all cultures have a binary system, and have just two gender identities, male and female. But this is not true. Around the world, many cultures have a third gender, which is neither male nor female, but a combination of both.

Some examples of cultures that have a third gender include: cultures in Siberia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Italy, South America, Thailand, aboriginal Australia, Samoa, Hawaii, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, New Zealand, and the Dominican Republic, among others. So, as you can see, that’s a lot of places around the world with a third gender!

Want More Information About Multiple Gender Identities?

Join my Udemy Course, “Exploring Gender Through Cultural Anthropology!

Thanks for reading!