Most individuals in the late 20th century take for granted what they consider to be the “natural” division of the human race into two genders, male and female, based on the biological attributes of these sexes—the only two to be had. Using both anthropological and historical research, the authors whose work appears in Third Gender, Third Sex explore “how, in particular places and times, people construe not only the natural body,” but what have been called the “cultural genitals.” As a result, in different societies throughout the centuries, there have existed multiple genders and sexes. From eunuchs in Byzantine Rome to “sapphists” in early modern London, from the Berdache tradition in the American West to hermaphrodites in New Guinea, these essays cover a wide range of behaviors, cultures and time periods. While the focus in Third Gender, Third Sex is academic, the writing is largely jargon-free and the subject definitely fascinating.
Paperback: 614 pages