In the modern American society, we tend to only recognize two genders; man and woman. But what happens when you don't fit into either of those gender roles? Some cultures have identified a third gender for those who feel as though they relate to both or neither of those 2 primary genders.
According to the oxford dictionary, gender is described as "Either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female" (Oxford).
In India, there is a third gender called Hijras, that dates back to the third century. According to Serena Nanda, hijra is " persons who are born as males but who adopt the clothing, behavior, and occupation of women" (Nanda pg. 150). While the societal roles of hijras typically follow that of women societal roles, there have been times when they are requested to partci[ate in male roles as well. According to Nanda, "Because hijras are defined as neither men or women ... Some Indian rulers required hijras distinguish themselves by wearing a man's turban" (Nanda pg. 151). However, the culture has mixed feelings about Hijras ranging from fear to compassion within the community.
Also n the Hindu religion, there is the Sadhin gender. This gender appeared in the nineteenth century. This is a female variant of gender, where according to Nanda, " Sadhins renounce marriage... they are committed to celibacy for life...Sadhins do not wear women's clothing but rather the everyday clothing of men, and they wear their hair close cropped (Philmore 1991. qtd. Nanda).
At birth, we are born as either male or female, but that does not necessarily decide our gender. "Our culture deeply influences our ideas about what males and females look like, what they do and how they should act" (Walker), gender is not the same as biological sex and there are many ways a person can identify that is comfortable to them. Often, I feel our culture and society expects people to identify a certain way in order to not be alienated.
Nanda, Serena. “Hijra and Sadhin: Neither Man nor Woman in India.” CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY, by Keri Vacanti Brondo, SAGE PUBLICATIONS, 2017, pp. 150–151. Walker, Eden. “One Account. All of Google.” Google Sites, sites.google.com/aims.edu/sex-gender/sex?pli=1&authuser=1.