Re: Transgender and henna, gendering the third gender

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Posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on August 21, 2002 at 16:07:36:

In reply to: Re: Transgender and henna, adolescence and companionship posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on August 21, 2002 at 16:05:44:

So, from this sexually segregated world, some boys found it to their
liking and to their advantage to become Xanith. (This is the word used
in Oman, and I don?t know if the term is widespread, but the practice
certainly is. I will use the word Xanith to cover trangendered North
African/Middle Eastern biological males generally, for lack of another
term.) A Xanith is the logical extension of the soprano dancing boy
darling of the men?s quarters, but adolescent or older. Xanith are
men who enjoy a passive homosexual role, and who earn their living as
entertainers and sex workers. They do NOT gender themselves as either
male or female, they perform a third gender. Islam does not permit
men to dress as women. Xanith may wear long pink shirts, pastel
colors, tons or perfume, henna, kohl, will sit in feminine postures,
perform feminine mannerisms, and cultivate a high or falsetto voice.
(This is like Boy George, or Freddy Mercury, NOT like a drag queen).

Xanith may talk freely with women, joking, gossiping, and trading
fashion tips. Women do not need to veil in the company of Xanith.
Society presumes that Xanith cannot possibly imperil a woman?s honor.
An honorable woman may hire Xanith perform, sing, dance, and entertain
at weddings, circumcisions, and other household celebrations. If the
honorable woman were to hire a woman, that woman might be a
prostitute, and that would bring pollution and dishonor into her
house. Intolerable. The Xanith, though they are often sex workers,
are not thought to carry such pollution or dishonor. Because they do
not have vaginas or menstrual cycles, they are less vulnerable to
pollution. Because they are men, they are considered to dishonor
their family less than a woman would by promiscuous sexual activity.

Xanith are frequently the featured entertainers at a Night of the
Henna. They are presumed to NOT imperil the bride?s honor!


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