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Mythology and Demonology

In Greek mythology the gender variant influence is dramatized in the designation of the Goddess, Venus Castina, as the goddess who responded with sympathy and understanding to the yearnings of feminine souls locked up in male bodies. [4] [1]a

Specific myths of sex change, not only as a result of desire but also as a form of punishment, appear frequently. For example, Tiresias, a Theban soothsayer, is reported to have been walking on Mt. Cyllene when he came upon two snakes coupling. He killed the female, and for this act was changed into a woman. Later, after coming to look favorably on his new form and testifying that woman’s pleasure during intercourse was ten to man’s one, he was changed back into a man - again as punishment. [13]  [2]a Another mythical account concerns the Scythians, whose rear guard pillaged the temple of Venus at Ascelon while leaving Syria and Palestine, which they had invaded. The goddess was supposed to have been so enraged that she made women of the plunderers, and further decreed that their posterity should be similarly affected. [19]a

Still another account deals with the ancient kingdom, Phrygia, where the priests of the God, Attis, the consort of Cybelle, the Earth Mother, were obliged to castrate themselves. This was in deference to the God, Attis, who is said to have emasculated himself under a pine tree.  The priests were said (following castration) to become transvestites and perform women’s tasks. Some of the priests were believed to have gone beyond testicular castration and completely removed their external male genitalia.  [29]A

The Tiresias myth noted previously parallels a related folk tale in East Indian lore. According to legend in the Mahabharata, a king was transformed into a woman by bathing in a magic river. As a woman he bore a hundred sons whom he sent to share his kingdom with the hundred sons he had had as a man.  Later, he refused to be changed back into a man because the former king felt that “a woman takes more pleasure in the act of love than does a man.” Contrary to the fate of Tiresias, the transformed king was granted his wish.[13]a

Not only were the gods empowered with the ability to change one’s sex but change of sex was performed on both human and beast by witchcraft and by the intervention of demons. Witches were claimed to be possessors of drugs [3]a  that had the capacity to reverse the sex of the taker. Some said that males could be transformed into females and females into males, but it was also argued that the sex change worked in only one direction. Thus it was declared that the Devil could make males of females, but could not transform men into women, because it is the method of nature to add on rather than to take away. In Malleus maleficarum (Hammer against Witches), published in 1489, the book which served as the source of “treatment” of the insane for nearly three hundred years, an eyewitness accounting was reported of a girl changed into a boy, by the devil, at Rome. [25]a


Historical and Cultural

According to Taylor in The Prehistory of Sex, early societies, dating as far back as the Iron Age, used biological means to manipulate gender.  Ovid, the first-century B.C. poet, refers in verse to the extract or ‘stuff from a mare in heat (Taylor, 1996). (Premarin a commonly used drug by transsexuals today is extracted from the urine of pregnant mares.) Some one had a somewhat warped sense of humor in naming the drug.  Hippocrates described a group of Scythians, called Enarees, gender-fluid members of their societies “who resembled eunuchs,” wrote: “they not only follow women’s occupations, but show feminine inclinations and behave as women. The natives ascribe the cause to a deity. “ [21]a. This obliquely refers to Eunuchs as a comparison, implying that some/many eunuchs were Transgendered.

Accounts exist from the legacy of ancient Greece and Rome of those grossly discontent with their gender role. Philo, the Jewish philosopher of Alexandria, wrote, “Expending every possible care on their outward adornment, they are not ashamed even to employ every device to change artificially their nature as men into women. Some of them craving a complete transformation into women, they have amputated their generative members.” [26]a

The Roman poet Manilius wrote:

These (persons) will ever be giving thought to their bedazement and becoming appearance; to curl the hair and lay it in waving ripples ...to polish the shaggy limbs.  Yea! and to hate the very sight of  (themselves as) a man, and long for arms without growth of hair. Woman’s robes they wear ...  (their) steps broken to an effeminate gait. [26]a

A further description written of some Romans has been translated:

But why are they waiting? Isn’t it now high time for them to try The Phrygian fashion and to make the job complete - Take a knife and lop off that[NL]superfluous piece of meat? [5]a

Even among the histories of Roman emperors are reported instances of “change of sex.” One of the earliest sex conversion operations may have been performed at the behest of the infamous Emperor Nero. Allegedly, Nero, during a fit of rage, kicked his pregnant wife in the abdomen, killing her.  Filled with remorse he attempted to find someone whose face resembled that of his slain wife. Closest to filling the order was a young male ex-slave, Sporum. Nero then is reported to have ordered his surgeons to transform the ex-slave into a woman. Following the “conversion,” the two were formally married.

Another Roman emperor, Heliogabalus, is reported to have been formally married to a powerful slave and then to have taken up the tasks of a wife following the marriage. He is described as having been “delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the Queen of Hierocles” [4]a and is said to have offered half the Roman Empire to the physician who could equip him with female genitalia. [1]a

Interposed between the era of the Roman Empire and Europe of the sixteenth century is a perhaps apocryphal, but still extraordinary accounting of ninth-century Rome. This concerns a figure known as Pope John VIII. The report goes that this person, nominated as successor to Pope Leo IV in 855, was, in fact, a woman. In an accounting published with the approval of Pope Julius III it was stated that, “she gave birth to a baby and died, together with her offspring, in the presence of a large number of spectators.” [9]a

In 1429, a seventeen-year-old natal female, dressed in men’s clothing, employed brilliant military strategies to rout the English from France.  Hailed as a saint by the peasants, she was burned alive at the stake on May 30, 1431, at the age of nineteen. The Grand Inquisitors executed Joan of Arc in part for her cross-gendered expression (Feinberg, 1996): you have continually worn man’s dress, wearing the short robe, with nothing left that could show you to be a woman: and on many occasions you received the Body of our Lord dressed in this fashion, although you have been frequently admonished to leave it off, which you have refused to do, saying that you would rather die than leave it off, you blaspheme God in his sacraments, and you condemn yourself in being unwilling to wear the customary clothing of your sex. (p. 35)

After she was presumed dead, and her clothing burned to ash, according to one observer;  “then the fire was raked back and her naked body shown to all the people and all the secrets that could or should belong to a woman, to take away my doubts from people’s minds” (p. 36). 

Renaissance period to the close of the nineteenth century

French history of the sixteenth to the eighteenth century contributed a number of public transsexual figures. Moreover, at this time the term of reference to the sovereign was “Sa majesté,” which means literally, “her majesty.” The feminine gender was used, initially, in deference to King Henry III of France, who wished to be considered a woman. It is reported that once, during February, 1577, sa majesté made his point strongly felt by appearing before the Deputies “dressed as a woman, with a long pearl necklace and low cut dress ” [9]a

Among the notable Frenchmen of the seventeenth century, the Abbé de Choisy, also known as François Timoléon, has left for posterity a vivid firsthand description of a strong cross-gender wish. During his infancy and early youth, his mother had attired him completely as a girl. At eighteen this practice continued and  his waist was then “encircled with tight-fitting corsets which made his loins, hips, and bust more prominent.” As an adult, for five months he played comedy as a girl and reported: “Everybody was deceived; I had lovers to whom I granted small favors. ”At thirty-two he became the Ambassador of Louis XIV to Siam. Regarding his gender identity he wrote, I thought myself really and truly a woman. I have tried to find out how such a strange pleasure came to me, and I take it to be in this way. It is an attribute of God to be loved and adored, and man - so far as his weak nature will permit - has the same ambition, and it is beauty, which creates love, and beauty is generally woman’s portion. I have heard someone near me whisper, “There is a pretty woman,” I have felt a pleasure so great that it is beyond all comparison. Ambition, riches, even love cannot equal it.  [4, 9, 15]a


Another abbé of interest was l’Abbé d’Entragues who attempted to replicate feminine facial beauty “pale and interesting” by undergoing frequent facial bleedings. [9] One last pertinent abbé was Becarelli, a false messiah, who claimed to be able to command the services of the Holy Ghost and boasted of possessing a drug, which could “change sex.” While physical sex was not changed, men who took the drug temporarily believed themselves transformed into women and women thought themselves transformed into men. [25] Finally, a person who throughout the whole of her life had been known as Mlle. Jenny Savalette de Lange died at Versailles in 1858 and was discovered to be a man. During his lifetime he had managed to get a substitute birth certificate designating himself female, was engaged to a man six times, and was given a thousand francs a year pension by the King of France with a free apartment in the Chateau of Versailles. [9]

The following brief case histories reported by physicians bring the historical review to the close of the nineteenth century. Bloch described a person of the mid-nineteenth century “who from doing feminine tasks (sewing and knitting) at the bidding of his mother became completely effeminate, plucked his beard, put up his hair, padded his breast and hips, and behaved in every respect as a woman. He called himself  Frederica. He managed to deceive (men) so completely that they (unwittingly) performed coitus in anum with him.” [2]a

 Krafft Ebing reported this firsthand account by a patient:

I feel like a woman in a man’s form. I feel the penis as clitoris, the urethra as urethra and vaginal orifice, which always feels a little wet, even when it is actually dry, the scrotum as labia majora. In short I always feel the vulva. Small as my nipples are, they demand room. Of what use is female pleasure, when one does not conceive? [23]a

Cross-cultural data 

A general list transgendered peoples.

Alyhas    Mohave MtF  hwane FtM

Aleutians   akhnutchik  shupan MtF

acault     cross-gendered males: sacred beings with special powers and

ceremonial roles; intercessor with  spirit gods Myanmar (Burma)     MtF

bayot      cross-dressing homosexual Philippines       MtF

berdache gender-transformed; special ceremonial roles.  European malapropism,           encompassing many roles in  many Amerindian tribes.  Other  FtM MtF

enaree     dressed as women; prophetic, shamans5th cent BCE, Scythia    MtF

gink        male prostitutes - younger men and boys 19th-cent Egypt   MtF

hijra        “eunuch”  “transvestite”castrated; “other”; performers, ancient& modern India                     spiritual community.     MtF             

khal          “dancers” 19th-century Egypt  MtF

mahu            special role in each district Polynesian   FtM  MtF

mahoos or mahhus  Tahiti    MtF (same language group)

mohabbazin       performers present-day Egypt    MtF

mukhannathun      “men who wish to resemble women”9th-cent Islam       MtF

mutarajjulat          “women who wish to resemble men”9th-cent Islam   FtM

nadle                      “other”     Navajo Other

ninauposkitzipspe   “manly hearted women” North Piegan FtM

sekrata   boys raised as girls Hovas, Madagascar   MtF

sarombavy    among the Tanala         Madagascar MtF

sererr      “other”     Pokot, Kenya    Other


walyeh    “female saint”: in some sects of dervishe a protégé  who realized

                 perfection became a walyeh Muslim  MtF

xanith     “effeminate”not castrated; “other”, regarded as neither/both

                 male&female IslamicOman   MtF,Other                                                       

 tsecates   Malagasy  MtF


sag ur sag    Mesopotamia 2000BCE


Americans Indians Anthropologic studies of peoples from several parts of the world furnish varied material on cross-gender behavior and identity.  During the first quarter of this century, extensive data were gathered on traditional practices among many tribes of North American Indians. “In nearly every part of the continent there seem to have been, since ancient times, men dressing themselves in the clothes and performing the functions of women.” [32]a  and women dressed themselves as men and performed the functions of men including that of Warrior. There were also those that were set apart as Shaman, riest, healers etc.

Among the Yuman Indians there existed a group of males called the elxa who were considered to have suffered a “change of spirit” as a result of dreams, which occurred generally at the time of puberty. A boy or girl who dreamed too much of any one thing “would suffer a change of sex.” Such dreams frequently included the receiving of messages from plants, particularly the arrowseed, which is believed to be liable to change of sex itself. One elxa, however, dreamed of a journey. “This dream implied his future occupation with woman’s work. When he came out of the dream he put his hand to his mouth and laughed ... with a women’s voice and his mind was changed from male into female. Other young people noticed this and began to feel towards him as to a woman.As a small child the female counterpart of elxa, the kwe’rhame, play with boy’s toys. It is alleged that such women never menstruate; their secondary sexual characteristics are underdeveloped, and in some instances are male (apparently some form of hermaphrodite). [12]a

 In the Yuma culture it was believed, further, that the Sierra Estrella, a mountain, had a transvestite living inside and that both this mountain and another nearby had the power to “sexually transform men.” Signs of such transformation were said to come “early in childhood.” Older people knew by a boy’s actions he would “change sex.”?” was the term for those who behaved like women. [4]a  (no translated word) in the Yuma culture married men and had no children of their own. The tribe also included women who passed for men, dressed like men, and married women. [30]a

Among the Cocopa Indians, males called ”e L ha” were those reported to have shown feminine character “from babyhood.” As children they were described as talking like girls, seeking the company of girls, and doing things in woman’s style. Females known as war’hemeh played with boys, made bows and arrows, had their noses pierced, and fought in battles. “Young men might love such a girl, but she cared nothing for him, wished only to become man.” [14]a

Among the Mohave Indians, boys who were destined to become shamans (priest-doctors who used magic and mediumistic trances to cure the sick, to divine the hidden, and to control the events that affected the welfare of the people), would “pull back their penis between their legs and then display themselves to women saying, ‘I too am a woman, I am just like you are.’”

For those Mohave boys who were to live as women, there was in initiation rite during the tenth or eleventh year of life. “Two women lift the youth and take him outdoors. One, puts on a skirt and dances, the youth follows and imitates. The two women give the youth the front and back pieces of his new dress and paint his face.” Such persons speak, laugh, smile, sit, and act like women. The initiates then assumed a name befitting a person of the opposite sex. These alyhas insisted that the penis be called a clitoris, the testes, labia majora, and the anus, vagina. The female counterpart, hwane, did not insist that the genitalia be referred to by male terminology. [An alyha, after finding a husband, would begin to imitate menstruation. He would take a stick and scratch himself between the legs until blood was drawn. When they would decide to become pregnant they would cease “menstruation’s.” Before “delivery” they would drink a bean preparation, which would induce violent stomach pains that were dubbed “labor pains.” Following this would be a defecation designated as a “stillbirth,” which would be ceremoniously buried. There would then ensue a period of mourning by both the husband and “wife.”[10]a

Available anthropologic sources make brief mention of similar practices in other tribes.

Among the Navaho, persons called nadle, a term used for either transvestites, or hermaphrodites but usually the former, were addressed by the kinship term used for a woman of their relationship and age and were granted the legal status of womanhood. [20]a

The i-wa-musp (man-woman), of the California Indians, formed a regular social grade. Dressed as women, they performed women’s tasks. When an Indian would show a desire to shirk his manly duties, he would be made to take his position in a circle of fire; then a bow and a “woman-stick” would be offered to him. He would have to make a choice and forever after abide by that choice. [27]a

Finally, among the Pueblo, the following alleged practice was described. A very powerful man, “one of the most virile,” was chosen. He was masturbated many times a day and made to ride horseback almost continuously.  Gradually such irritable weakness of the genital organs is engendered that, in riding, great loss of semen is induced. Then atrophy of the testicles and penis sets in, the hair of the beard falls out, the voice loses its depth and compass. Inclinations and disposition become feminine. (This) “mujerado” loses his position in society as a man, his endeavor seems to be to assimilate himself as much as possible to the female sex, and to rid as far as may be all the attributes, mental and physical, of manhood.  A former Surgeon-General of the United States Army vividly described one such person: “The first thing that attracted my notice was the extraordinary development of the mammary glands, which were as large as those of a childbearing woman. He told me that he had nursed several infants whose mother had died, and that he had given them plenty of milk from his breasts. (A phenomenon, which from a scientific standpoint sounds unlikely.) [18]a

 The Salish-speaking Pend d’Oreille (or Kalispel) and Flathead (or Salish) tribes of western Montana illustrate all the patterns of women’s participation in war found in the Plains region-from ceremonial roles to participation in battles to ongoing roles as warriors and leaders.

Kuilix in a drawing by Nicolas Point

The Jesuit fathers Pierre Jean De Smet, Nicholas Point, and Gregory Mengarini arrived in Montana in 1841 intending to “reduce” the Flatheads and Pend d’Oreilles to missions (much as their brethren had done among the natives of Paraguay). Instead, they found themselves accompanying their would-be converts on treks to the plains to hunt buffalo and fight their enemies. The tribes, for their part, welcomed the missionaries, hoping they would provide them with supernatural aid. But when the Jesuits began to scold them with “fatherly rebukes” and “exhortations” because they continued to give “themselves up to their old war dances, to savage obscenity and to shameless excesses of the flesh,” attitudes quickly changed. As relations worsened, the Flatheads refused to sell the priests provisions. In 1850, St. Mary’s mission in the Bitterroot Valley was abandoned.  The Jesuits were especially baffled by the active role of Flathead and Pend d’Oreille women in warfare. Women joined dances dressed as warriors, and they frequently entered battle. As De Smet observed in 1846, Even the women of the Flathead mingled in the fray. One, the mother of seven children, conducted her own sons into the battlefield. Having perceived that the horse of her eldest son was breaking down in a single combat with a Crow, she threw herself between the combatants, and with a knife put the Crow to flight. Another, a young woman, perceiving that the quivers of her party were nearly exhausted, coolly collected, amidst a shower of arrows, those that lay scattered around her, and brought them to replenish the nearly exhausted store.

At least one Pend d’Oreille woman distinguished herself in war and appears to have been a recognized leader. Her native name was Kuilix, “The Red One” (or “Red Shirt”), referring to a bright red coat she wore-probably part of a British military uniform. She was known to whites as Mary Quille,  or Marie Quilax. Father Point drew and painted her and described her in his journals and letters. He relates an occasion in 1842 when a small group of Pend d’Oreilles came upon a large party of Blackfoot and attacked them. When the sounds of gunfire reached the Pend d’Oreilles camp, the other warriors rode out to join the fray. According to Point: The first Pend d’Oreille to dash out at the enemy was Kuilix, Her bravery surprised the warriors who were humiliated and indignant because it was a woman who had led the charge, and so they threw themselves into the breach where nature’s shelter had protected the enemy. The Blackfeet immediately shot four shots almost at point-blank range; yet not a single Pend d’Oreille went down. Four of the enemy, some claim it was only two who managed to escape death by hiding in the thickets, but the rest were massacred on the spot.  Kuilix was also present at a battle with the Crows in 1846. According to Point, “The famous Kuilix, accompanied by a few braves and armed with an axe, gave chase to a whole squadron of Crows. When they got back to camp, she said to her companions, ‘I thought that those big talkers were men, but I was wrong. Truly, they are not worth pursuing.’” Point’s illustration of the episode bears the caption, “A woman warrior’s swift about-face left the enemy stupefied.” According to Point, Kuilix was “renowned for intrepidity on the field of battle.” De Smet referred to her as the “celebrated Mary Quille” and an engraving of her based on Point’s drawing appears on the title page of his 1844 Voyages aux montagnes rocheuses. WILL ROSCOE Mahu

Peoples other than American Indians

In paleo-Asiatic, ancient Mediterranean, Indian, Oceanic, and African tribes, men who adopted the ways and dress of women enjoyed high esteem as shamans, priests and sorcerers - all persons whose supernatural powers are feared and revered.[ Among the Yakut of aboriginal Siberia there were two categories of shamans, the “white” representing creative, and the “black,” destructive forces. The latter tended to behave like women. The hair was parted in the middle like women, they wore iron circles over the coat representing breasts, and along with biologic females were not permitted to lie on the right side of the horse-skin in the living quarters. [7]a

As to the people of Siberia, the change of sex was found chiefly among paleo-Siberians, namely the Chukchee, Koryak, Kamchadeb, and Asiatic Eskimo.  [7]a

Among the Chukchees living near the Arctic Coast, there was reported a special branch of shamanism in which men and women were alleged to undergo a change of sex in part, or even completely. A man who changed his sex was called “soft man being” (yirka’-la’ vl-ua’ irgin) or “similar to a woman” (ne’vc h i c a) and a “transformed woman” (ga’ c iki c hê c e).  Transformation would take place by the command of the Ke’let during early youth.[PARA]There were various degrees of transformation.  In the first stage, the person subjected to it would impersonate a woman only in the manner of braiding and arranging hair. The second stage was marked by the adoption of female dress.  The third stage of transformation was more complete. A young man who underwent it left off all pursuits and manners of his sex and took up those of a woman. His pronunciation would change. “At the same time his body alters, if not in its outward appearance, at least in its faculties and forces. The transformed person becomes fond of nursing small children. Generally speaking, he becomes a woman with the appearance of a man.” The “soft-man” after a time would take a husband. The “wife” would take care of the house, performing all domestic pursuits and work. Legend had it that some would even acquire the organs of a woman. [5]a A transformed woman was described who donned the dress of a male, adopted the pronunciation of men, provided herself with a gastrocnemius from the leg of a reindeer, fastened it to a broad leather belt, and “used it in the way of masculine private parts.” [3]

In Madagascar men described among the Tanala as exhibiting feminine traits from birth, dressed like women, arranged the hair like women, and pursued feminine occupations. They were known as Sarombavy. Among the Sak a lavas of Madagascar, children who were noted to be delicate and girlish in appearance and mannerisms were selected out from their peers and then raised as girls. Madagascans who were treated as female “finally ... regard themselves as completely feminine ... The autosuggestion goes so far that they quite forget their true sex. They are exempt from military service.” [2]a

The following brief anecdotal accountings suggest the existence of the transsexual phenomenon in other scattered cultures as well.  In Tahiti a set of men called by the natives mahoos or mahhus  “assumed the dress, attitudes, and mannerisms of women, affected all the fantastic oddities and coquetries of the vainest of females.” They had chosen this way of living in early childhood. [31]a

In some Brazilian tribes women were observed who abstained from every womanly occupation and imitated men in everything. They wore their hair in masculine fashion and “would rather allow themselves to be killed than have sexual intercourse with a man. Each of these women had a woman who served her and with whom she was married.” [8, 32]a

A number of Lango men from Uganda, in East Africa, “dress as women, simulate menstruation, and become one of the wives of other males.” [11]a Elsewhere in Africa among the Malagasy (men called tsecates),

Among the Onondaga of Southwest German Africa and among the Diakite-Sarracolese in the French Sudan, men assumed the dress, attitude and manners of women. [6]a

Among the Araucanians (Chile) were reported male and  female sorcerers. The male sorcerers were required to forsake their sex. [2]a

Sir James Frazer wrote in The Golden Bough: “There is a custom widely spread among savages in accordance with which some men dress as women and act as women throughout their life. Often they are dedicated and trained to their vocation from childhood.” They were reported to be found among the Sea Dyaks of Borneo, the Bugis of South Celebes and the Patagonians of South America. In the Kingdom of the Congo there was described a sacrificial priest who commonly dressed as a woman, and glorified in the title of grandmother. “To the savage mind, the donning of another’s dress is more than a token, it completes identity.” [6]


Among Zulus change of sex (by disguise) was a method of changing or averting bad luck. In the Konkan (India) it was usual to bore the nose of a son as soon as be was born to turn him into a girl. [22]a

On the Aleutians, boys - if they were very handsome - would be brought up entirely in the manner of girls (Shupans), and instructed in the arts women use to please men; their beards would be carefully plucked out as soon as they would appear. They would wear ornaments of glass beads upon their legs and arms, (these were trade items and help set chronology) and bind and cut their hair in the same manner as women. [24]a Arriving at ten or fifteen, they were married to some wealthy man. [32]a It was further reported that sometimes if the parents had wished for a daughter and were disappointed by having a son they would make the newborn into an akhnutchik or shupan. [2]a

More recently, in mid twentieth century India, the city of Lucknow witnessed a great many Hijra, “eunuchs” turning up at the polls and joining the line of female voters. The eunuchs, who were dressed in female garments, were reported to have been “amazed” at finding themselves listed as male voters. “Only after the insistence of the police officers ... did they bow to the law ... These hijra, though they resist further surgery to make them more female, have their male genitalia amputated, and the pubic area reshaped to give it the look of the female vagina.” The event is celebrated by a grand feast,  restricted to hijra. [28]


The Hawaiian language contains no female or male adjectives or articles, and even proper names are androgynous. This reflects the Polynesian emphasis on integration and balance of the male and female gods. The notion of gendered polarity of opposite sexes is foreign to Hawaiian thought. The Mahu embody this ancient Polynesian principle of spiritual duality and are viewed as an honored intermediate sex, integral to Hawaiian culture and cosmology (Robertson, 1989):

Sometimes Mother Nature cannot make up her mind, whether to make a man or a woman, even in Polynesia, so she mixes up a little of the male with some of the female element. (p. 313)

The Mahu phenomenon cannot be reduced to any parallel Western concept of gender. Many women in Hawaii were raised as boys by parents or grandparents to keep them free of sexual liaisons with men. In earlier generations, these girls would have performed tasks of healing or the sacred hula dances.  Similarly, elderly Hawaiian men who begot many sons but no daughters often decided to raise the youngest boy as a girl. In this way, they were able to provide additional labor for women’s tasks. This practice seems to date back to ancient times (Robertson, 1989).

The Mahu of Hawaii assume a large role in history and legend. Today’s Mahu population contains an astounding variety of individuals. The term Mahu can refer to women who dress and work as men, men who dress and work as women, women or men who dress to conceal their biological classification, women who only associate with other women, men who dress “festively,” men who undergo hormonal or surgical procedures, true hermaphrodites, or those who Westerners call “gay.” Parents often choose to put their children in the care of Mahu, for mixed gender people are deemed to be particularly compassionate and creative (Robertson, 1989).


and were disappointed by having a son they would make the newborn into an akhnutchik or shupan. [2]a


1. BENJAMIN, H., and MASTERS, R., “A New Kind of Prostitute,” Sexology, Vol. 30, 1964, pp. 446-448.

2. BLOCH, I., Anthropological Studies on the Strange Sexual Practices of All

Races and All

Ages, New York, Anthropological Press.

3. BOGORAS, W., The Chukchee

Religion, Leiden, E. J. Brill, Ltd., 1907, Memoirs Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist.

Vol. XI.

4.  BULLIET, C., Venus Castina. Famous Female Impersonators Celestial and Human, New York, Covici, Friede, 1928.

5.   CREEKMORE, H.(tr.), The Satires of Juvenal, New York, Mentor, 1963.

6.   CRAWLY, E., The Mystic Rose, New York, Meridian Books, 1960.

7.   CZAPLICKA, M., Aboriginal Siberia, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1914.  8.   DE MACALHAENS GANDAVO, P., Histoire de la Provine de Sancta Cruz, que nous nommons ordinairement le Brizil, cited by Crawly, E., The Mystic Rose.  9.  DE SAVITSCH, E., Homosexuality, Transvestism and Change of Sex, London, Wm.

Heinemann Medical Books, 1958.

10.  DEVEREUX, G., “Institutionalized Homosexuality of the Mohave Indians,” Human Biol., Vol. 9, 1937, pp. 508-527.

11.  . FORD, C., and BEACH, F., Patterns of Sexual Behavior, New York, Ace Books, 1951.

12.  . FORD, C., University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 28, 1931.

13.  FUNK AND WAGNALL’S Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, Leach, M. (ed.).

14.    GIFFORD, E., The Cocopa, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 31, 1933. 

15.    15. GILBERT, O., Men in Woman’s Guise, London, John Lane, 1926.[ 16.  GRAVES, R., The Greek Myths, Baltimore, Penguin Books, 1955.  17.  GRINNELL, G., The Cheyenne Indians, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1923.

18. HAMMOND, W., Sexual Impotence in the Male and Female, Detroit, George S.

Davis, 1887.

19. Herodotus cited by Krafft-Ebing.

20. HILL, W., “The Status of the Hermaphrodite and      Transvestite in Navaho Culture,” Amer. Anthrop., Vol.  37, 1935, pp. 273-279.

21.  HIPPOCRATES, Air, Water and Environment, cited by Hammond.  22.  JOSHI, P., “On the Evil Eye in the Konkan,” J. Anthrop. Soc. (Bombay), Vol. 1, 1886-1889, p. 123, cited in Crawly, E., The Mystic Rose.  23.  KRAFFT-EBING, R., Psychopathia Sexualis, Brooklyn, Physicians and Surgeons Book Co., 1931.

24.  LANGSDORF, G., Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World During the Years 1803-7, cited in Crawly, E., The Mystic Rose.  25. MASTERS, R., Eros and Evil, New York, Julian Press, 1962.[PARA]26.


“Effeminacy and the Homosexual”  an Encyclopedia of Homosexual Behavior, Ellis, A. and Cory, D. (eds.), New York, Citadel Press, 1966.  27.POWERS, S., Tribes of California 1877, cited in Crawly E., The Mystic Rose.

28.  SIDDIGUI, T., and REHMAN, M., Eunuchs of India and Pakistan, Sexology,Vol. 29,1963, pp. 824-826.

29.  SPENCER, R., “The Cultural Aspects of Eunuchism,” Ciba Symposia, Vol.

8, 1946, pp. 406-420.

30.  SPIER, L ., Yuman Tribes of the Gila River, University of Chicago Press, 1933.

31.  TURNBULL, Voyage Round the World, cited by Westermarck, E., The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas.

32. WESTERMARCK, E., The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, Vol. 2, London, Macmillan, 1917.


[1] The bracketed references will be found on pages 185 and 186.  [2] To see snakes coupling is still considered unlucky in Southern India, the theory being that the witness will be punished with homosexuality. [16] [3] Reference will be made later to an eighteenth-century abbé who claimed to possess a similar drug. [4]

Berdache derives from the Spanish, bardaja meaning “a kept boy,” and bardashe from French; also Italian, bardascia; Arabian, bardaj (a slave) and Persian, bardah. The berdache may be variously regarded as (1) a sex-changed person; (2) a man-woman; or (3) a person who is neither man nor woman. [26] [5] The change of sex was often accompanied by becoming shaman; indeed, nearly all the shamans were gender variant.


Last modified: 12/24/13