Visual Encyclopedia

Third gender

Third gender or third sex is a concept in which individuals are categorized, either by themselves or by society, as neither man nor woman. It also describes a social category present in those societies that recognize three or more genders. The term third is usually understood to mean "other"; some anthropologists and sociologists have described fourth, fifth, and "some" genders.

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Third Genders of the World Pt. 2 (GRAPHIC)

This is a photo of two members of the Skoptsy sect. The man on the left has been castrated and the woman on the right has had her breasts removed.

Contributed by Brianna Marie George

Third Genders of the World Pt. 2

A female member of the Skoptsy with her breasts removed.

Contributed by Brianna Marie George

In 1771, a small Christian community in Western Russia was discovered after having split from the Russian Orthodox Church and becoming a distinct religious sect. Known as the Skoptsy, they held extreme views on sex and gender and deviated largely from traditional Biblical beliefs. They based their doctrine on the belief that Adam and Eve had had halves of the forbidden fruit grafted onto their bodies, forming their testicles and breasts. So, as such, they castrated the male children and amputated the breasts of women in the community, to return themselves to the state prior to “original sin.” Essentially all of the Skoptsy’s rituals and practices were driven by this stressing of sexual abstinence. They believed sex, lust, and beauty to be at the root of all evil, and these processes of amputation and castration were the beginning of the liberation of one's soul. This way, they believed, one could better communicate with God. They faced persecution, but grew to as many as 100,000 in the 20th century. Many were arrested or deported.. Their no-sex rules combined with such persecution—it’s no wonder that by the 1950s they had all but disappeared.

Contributed by Brianna Marie George

Third Genders Pt. 1

One of many modern burrnesha, holding up an old picture of himself when he was once a woman.

Contributed by Brianna Marie George

There are countless known "third genders" in the history of mankind. One in particular that has recently regained notoriety are the Burrnesha of Northern Albania. These are women who, either by force in their community or of their own accord, take an oath to become essentially male and leave behind all remnants of their past femininity. Traditionally, these women would take up this identity as a means of maintaining their family's patriarch after the last living male has passed.

Contributed by Brianna Marie George

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