The wonderful world of non-binary.

Confused?

I watched a video from Steven crowder called “there are two genders, change my mind.” He has a series of these “change my mind” interviews/debates with people in the streets or on campus. They are really quite funny and educational, mostly because the people who try to change his mind are usually confused, irrational and emotional. I watched almost two hours of that on the subject of gender. If you read my blog with a tiny bit of regularity, you know I have been opposed to, I might even say hostile towards this idea that sex and gender are different. Because one person justified the non-binary gender philosophy by naming a few other cultures which embrace or accept the non-binary gender identity, I decided to do some research into it. Are you ready for a shock? I now agree that other cultures have separated sex and gender, that it’s not just a western snowflake notion. While you get your hyperventilating under control, let’s hasten to add: 1. These other examples are almost all ceremonial or religious roles; 2. None of them involve voluntary surgery or hormone infusions; 3. Virtually none of the roles survive today; 4. None of the cultures even had separate bathrooms as we know them, unless you consider a latrine or pit to be a bathroom; 5. All were minor accommodations and none even remotely enforced “preferred pronouns” on the general population. I used PBS’s Worldwide Gender Map, from which I selected a geographically diverse group of examples (Indonesia gets two mentions, because of the diversity of cultures).

Russia: The Skopsy routinely castrated male children and amputated the breasts of women to return themselves the the state prior to original sin. Sex, vanity, beauty, and lust were considered the root of evil.

Turkey: The Kocek were a cultural phenomenon in which young men dressed in women’s attire and formed traveling dance troupes who performed sexually suggestive dances. Although they were not necessarily gay, they were traditionally available to the highest male bidder.

Egypt: During the Mamluk Sultanate in what is now Egypt from the 1200s to the 1700s, young girls who we perceived to have masculine traits were celebrated and raised as boys and afforded all of the legal and societal advantages.

Ethiopia: Historically among the Maale people of southern Ethiopia, the word ashtime referred to eunuchs who lived in the home of the most powerful spiritual or political leader, because biological women were forbidden to enter.

Oman: Xanith are biological males and do not practice emasculation, but do assume the dress, mannerisms, and some social roles of women.

Australia: Aborigines, indigenous transgendered people are known as “sistergirls” and “brotherboys”. As in some other native cultures, there is evidence that transgender and intersex people were much more accepted in their society before colonization. (I might add, there were a lot of practices around the world that were more accepted before colonization, like child sacrifice, burning widows on the husband’s funeral pyre, Baal worship. So what?)

Indonesia: The Bugi people of southern Sulawesi recognize three sexes (male, female, intersex) and five genders: men, women, calabai, calalai, and bissu. Calabai are biological males who embody a feminine gender identity. Calalai are biological females who embody a male gender identity. Bissu are considered a “transcendent gender,” either encompassing all genders or none at all. The bissu serve ritual roles in Bugi culture.

Italy: Femminiello refers to biological males who dress as women and assume female gender roles in Neopolitan society. Their station in society was, up through the 19th century privileged, and the rituals (including marriage to one another) was based on Greek mythology related to Hermaphroditus and Teresias (who was transformed into a woman for seven years).

Mexico: Among the Zapotec of the Oaxacan peninsula, the muxe are generally males who either dress as women or dress as males with make-up. They may adopt “feminine” social roles such as working in embroidery, but many also have white-collar careers in Mexico.

Dominican Republic: In an exceptional case, genetics seems to have created a third sex in Dominican Republic. A heritable pseudo-hermaphroditic trait was discovered by ethnographers in the 1970s, who followed the children over generations. With undifferentiated genitalia, they generally were raised as girls, but began developing male traits at puberty. Instead of changing their gender identities to male, most chose to live as a third gender called guevedoche (roughly meaning “testicles at 12”) or machi-embra (man-woman).

Peru: In pre-colonial Andean culture, the Incas worshipped the chuqui chinchay, a dual-gendered god. Third-gender ritual attendants or shamans performed sacred rituals to honor this god. The quariwarmi shamans wore androgynous clothing as “a visible sign of a third space that negotiated between the masculine and the feminine, the present and the past, the living and the dead.”

Argentina: In some cultures of South America, a travesti is a person who was born male, has a feminine gender identity, and is primarily sexually attracted to non-feminine men. However, in contrast to transsexual women, they often don’t see themselves as women, and many describe themselves as gay or homosexual. Travestis may modify their bodies with hormones or silicone, but rarely seek genital surgery.

Indonesia: Waria is a term used for the third gender in Indonesia who are born male but live along a continuum of gender identity in this Islamic nation. Includes individuals who continue to identify as male but who imitate certain feminine mannerisms, and perhaps occasionally wear makeup and women’s clothing. Others identify so closely as female that they are able to pass as female in their daily interactions in society. As waria, these individuals become almost invisible.

United States: Winkte is the Lakota word for two-spirit people. Like the Navajo nadleehi and dilbaa, the winkte are born male but assume many traditional women’s roles, such as cooking and caring for children, as well as assuming key roles in rituals and serving as the keeper of the tribe’s oral traditions.

Canada: The ninauposkitzipxpe were honored as a third gender in the North Peigan tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy in northern Montana and Southern Alberta, Canada. Roughly translated, it means “manly-hearted woman and defined a biological female who did not necessarily dress in a masculine mode, but was unrestricted by the social constraints placed on other women in the Blackfoot society.

Siberia: The Chuckchi are a nomadic, shamanic people who embrace a third gender. Generally shamans are biologically male with some adoption of female roles and appearance, who married men but also were not subject to the social limitations placed on women. Third gender Chuckchi could accompany men on the hunt, as well as take care of family.

How is all of the above relevant for: boycotting North Carolina because they separated male and female bathrooms (flush toilets and all!); firing teachers, and Twitter attacks for “misgendering”; “sex reassignment” surgery; giving hormones and puberty blocking drugs to very young children; dressing young boys like girls and parading them in nightclubs to the cheers of slobbering drunks; extending racial, ethnic and religious anti-discrimination penalties to binary gender pronouns? If the transgenderism fanatics want to use the practices of other cultures to justify their activism, how about starting with the Skopsy? Oh wait, they already have.