The terms third gender and third sex describe individuals who are considered to be neither women nor men, as well as the social category present in those societies who recognize three or more genders.
The state of being neither male nor female may be understood in relation to the individual's sex, gender role, gender identity or sexual orientation. To different cultures or individuals, a third sex or gender may represent an intermediate state between men and women, a state of being both (such as "the spirit of a man in the body of a woman"), the state of being neither (neuter), the ability to cross or swap genders, or another category altogether independent of male and female. This last definition is favored by those who argue for a strict interpretation of the "third gender" concept.
The term has been used to describe Hijras of India and Pakistan, Fa'afafine of Polynesia, and Sworn virgins of the Balkans, among others, and is also used by many of such groups and individuals to describe themselves. In the Western world, lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people have been described as belonging to a third sex or gender, although some object to this characterization.
The term "third" is usually understood to mean "other"; some anthropologists and sociologists have described fourth, fifth, and many genders.
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