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OKG Newsletter


Gender roles in other countries

By Jenny Coon Peterson June 25th, 2009

Oklahoma City attorney Brittany Novotny traveled to Thailand for her genital reassignment surgery as she transitioned from male to female. She chose Thailand not only because of the difference in cost, but also because of the way gender is viewed in the Southeast Asian country.

"Thailand has a different attitude about it socially. To them, it's okay for people to transition and change genders."

Thailand officially recognizes a third gender, called "kathoey," but it's really only for male to female transitions. The same term is used in Laos.

Thailand isn't the only place in the world where a third gender is socially accepted. Transgender people have been documented in Japan, Indonesia, China and Korea.

In India, a third gender is referred to as "hijra" in Hindi. The group generally refers to themselves as female, but see themselves as neither male or female.

In North America, Native American cultures such as the Zuni, Lakota and Mohave recognized a third gender, referred to as "two-spirit," and in Mexico, the "muxe" were a third gender to the Zapotec of Mexico.

A third gender is even discussed in the Code of Hammurabi. The "salzikrum" were females who lived as males. The word "salzikrum" means male daughters, the group even had inheritance rights.

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