While the majority of Western legal systems continue to insist on the existence of only two genders, a demand for the recognition of non-binary gender identities has become increasingly visible. Numerous individuals have gone to court demanding recognition of their identities beyond the binary, with varying degrees of success. This article provides a novel lens through which to consider these contemporary legal claims. Through an exploration of historical and cultural examples of gender beyond the binary, more specifically Byzantine eunuchs and Indian hijras, this article analyses the regulatory forces that permit and promote the existence of non-binary genders. A better understanding of societies that have carved out a space for genders beyond the binary can offer important insights into both the benefits and the dangers of the legal recognition of a third gender.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science