Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America

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Palgrave Macmillan, Jun 16, 2000 - Political Science - 320 pages
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The term 'berdache' is a little-known, rarely discussed reference to Native American individuals who embodied both genders - what some might classify as 'the third sex.' Berdaches were known to combine male and female social roles with traits unique to their status as a third gender, defying and redefining traditional notions of gender-specific behavior. In Changing Ones , William Roscoe opens up and explores the world of berdaches, revealing meaningful differences between Native American culture and contemporary North American culture. Roscoe reveals that rather than being ostracized or forced into obscurity, berdaches were embraced by some 150 tribes, serving as artists, medicine people, religious experts, and tribal leaders. Indeed, Roscoe points out, berdaches sometimes even occupied a holy status within the tribal community. Roscoe begins with case studies of male and female berdaches, blending biography and ethnohistory, and he builds toward theoretical insights into the nature of gender diversity in North America. What results is highly engaging, readable, and illuminating. Changing Ones combines the fields of anthropology, sociology, queer theory, gay and lesbian studies, and gender studies to challenge conventional schools of thought and to expand every reader's horizons.

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About the author (2000)

WILLIAM ROSCOE is the author of The Zuni Man-Woman, which received the Margaret Mead Award of the American Anthropological Association and a Lamda Literary Award, as well as the editor of Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology (SMP).

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