Gender Identity and Gender Transformation in Cross Cultural

Gender Identity and
Gender Transformation
in Cross Cultural
Social construction/deconstruction
of gender identities
Theory on Gender Identity
 Identity-Construction Theory:
emphasizes the individual’s personal
and conscious commitment to a specific
image of self
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Theory on Gender Identity
 Gender-Schema Theory: merges cognitive-
developmental with social-learning theory.
Schemas are internal cognitive networks (shaped
by socialization) that organize and guide
individual perceptions; gender schemas are
cognitive networks associated with concepts of
masculine and feminine. Highly genderschematic individuals tend to organize many of
their thoughts, perceptions and evaluations
according to gender stereotypes and symbols.
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Theory on Gender Identity
 Socialization or Social-Learning Theory:
emphasizes influence of differing “learning
environments,” especially of children but
sometimes of adults as well imitation of
models and examples they see in society
response to rewards for genderappropriate behavior and criticism or
punishment for gender-inappropriate
behavior (from peers as well as adults)
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Gender identity in cross cultural
Hijras of South Asia
Hijras are widely
referred to in English
with the term
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 In South India, the goddess Yellamma is
believed to have the power to change
one's sex. Male devotees in female
clothing are known as Jogappa. They
perform similar roles to hijra, such as
dancing and singing at birth ceremonies
and weddings.
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 The word kothi (or koti) is common
across India, although kothis are often
distinguished from hijras. Kothis are
regarded as feminine men or boys who
take a feminine role in sex with men, but
do not live in the kind of intentional
communities that hijras usually live in.
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 Becoming a hijra is a process of socialization
into a "hijra family" through a relationship
characterised as chela "student" to guru
"teacher", leading to a gradual assumption of
 Typically each guru lives with at least five
chelas; her chelas assume her surname and
are considered part of her lineage. Chelas are
expected to give their income to their guru, who
manages the household. Hijra families are
close knit communities, which often have their
own houses.
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 This process may culminate in a
religious ritual that includes
emasculation (total removal of the penis,
testes and scrotum in men). Not all hijras
undergo emasculation, and the
percentage of hijras that are eunuchs is
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Hijras are often encountered on
streets, trains, and other public
places demanding money from
young men. If refused, the hijra
may attempt to embarrass the
man into giving money, using
obscene gestures, profane
language, and even sexual
advances. Hijras also perform
religious ceremonies at
weddings and at the birth of
male babies, involving music,
singing, and sexually
suggestive dancing.
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These are intended to bring
good luck and fertility. Although
the hijra are most often
uninvited, the host usually pays
the hijras a fee. Many fear the
hijras' curse if they are not
appeased, bringing bad luck or
infertility, but for the fee they
receive, they can bless goodwill
and fortune on to the newly
born. Hijras are said to be able
to do this because, since they
do not engage in sexual
activities, they accumulate their
sexual energy which they can
use to either bestow a boon or
a bane.
Baccha of Central Asia
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Baccha of Turkestan
 A bacchá, typically an adolescent of
twelve to sixteen, is a performer
practiced in erotic songs and suggestive
dancing. He wore resplendent attire and
makeup, has been considered by some
as cross-dressing or actual transgender
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 The bacchá was appreciated esthetically
for his androgynous beauty, but was also
available as a sex worker. The boys
were drawn from the ranks of the
underclasses, as the profession was as
much despised as it was admired.
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 The bacchás were trained from
childhood and carried on their trade until
their beard began to grow. Once they
matured out of the trade, some were set
up by their patrons in business as
merchants, but most boys were left to
their own, often meager, resources.
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 The practice of keeping dance boys still
persists in northern Afghanistan, where
many men keep them as status symbols.
Some of the individuals involved report
being forced into sex, while others report
strong emotional and physical bonds
formed over the course of relationships
lasting many years, often into the boys'
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Kathoey of Thailand
The term kathoey
or katoey (Thai:
กะเทย) generally
refers to a maleto-female
person or an
effeminate gay
male in Thailand.
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 The term "kathoey" is not an exact
equivalent of the modern western
transwoman — it suggests that the
person is a type of male, unlike the term
sao praphet song, which suggests a
female sex identity, or phet thee sam,
which suggests a third gender. The term
phu-ying praphet thi sorng, roughly
translated as "second type of woman", is
also used to refer to kathoey
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 The term can refer to males who exhibit varying
degrees of femininity — many kathoeys dress
as women and undergo feminising medical
procedures such as hormone replacement
therapy, breast implants, genital reassignment
surgery, or Adam's apple reductions. Others
may wear makeup and use feminine pronouns,
but dress as men, and are closer to the western
category of effeminate gay man than
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 Kathoeys are often identified at a young
age, and are considered to be "born that
way". They may have access to
hormones (available without
prescription) and medical procedures
during their teenage years
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 Some believe that this higher
acceptance is due to the nature of the
surrounding Buddhist culture, which
places a high value on tolerance. Using
the notion of Karma, some Thai believe
that being a kathoey is the result of
transgressions in past lives, concluding
that kathoey deserve pity rather than
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Snow Virgins
 A sworn virgin is a person who decides
to live in the manner of the opposite sex
while adamantly refusing ever to have
sexual relations with another. The term
itself can be misleading — "swearing"
virginity can be a public or private act,
and it does not even have to be a
conscious decision
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The social role of the "sworn
virgin" in the Balkans
 The term sworn virgin has come to refer
to a traditional social role in the Balkans:
that of a man who was born female. This
area is home to a patchwork of
seemingly disparate groups, including
the Slavic Bosnians/Serbs/Montenegrins
and Croats, the Albanians, the Roma
and sizable Greek and Romanian
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Snow Virgins
 The origins of Balkan "sworn virgins" is
disparate: some choose this role (as
early as childhood and as late as just
before their marriage ceremony) while
others are raised or forced into it by
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 "Sworn virgins" enjoy great privilege in
comparison to those living a female
gender. They can smoke, attend maleonly events, participate in male-only
activities, use men's tools like guns and
certain musical instruments, and
generally obtain the respect of their
born-male peers like any other man.
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 However, there are limitations. First, they are
forbidden from sexual activity with any other
person. Second, they are limited to the
traditional female immunity to blood-feud, which
remains a major cause of male mortality. If a
clan is under siege and all of its males are
potential targets for a vengeance murder, the
"sworn virgin" is limited to immunity as a target
and limited to carrying out crucial men's work
without fear of being killed.
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Takatāpui (Maori) ofNew
 Takatāpui (also spelt
takataapui) is the Māori
word meaning a devoted
partner of the same sex. In
modern terminology, a
person that identifies as
takatāpui is a Māori
individual that is queer, in
other words gay, lesbian,
bisexual, or transgender or
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 The term is not new, but the
application of it is very
recent. In the 1980s, there
was a desire for a label to
describe an individual that is
both Māori and nonheterosexual. The word
takatāpui was found to have
existed in pre-colonial New
Zealand to describe
relationships between
people of the same sex. The
existence of this word kills
the conservative Māori
argument that
homosexuality did not exist
in Māori society prior to the
arrival of Europeans.
Fa'afafine of Samoa
 Fa'afafine) (also spelled faafafine,
fafafige, and misspelled fafafini) is a third
gender specific to Samoan culture.
Fa'afafine are biologically men who in
childhood choose by their nature to be
raised to assume female gender roles,
which is not discouraged in the
traditional fa'asamoa (Samoan society).
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 Fa'afafine are prominent in all aspects of
Samoan society as workers,
administrators, educators, church elders,
business people, and artists. They are
known for their hard work and dedication
to the family, and are often the guardians
and caretakers to elderly parents, as well
as the biological children of their siblings.
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