Sociology Index

Transvestitism

Berdache, Amazon, Transsexual

The term transvestitism was coined by Magnus Hirschfeld. Transvestitism is the practice of wearing or desire to wear the clothes of the opposite sex, especially, as a sexual stimulus. Transvestitism means in Latin trans "across, over" and vestitus "dressed", to refer to the sexual interest in cross-dressing.

Magnus Hirschfeld used the term transvestitism to describe persons who habitually and voluntarily wore clothes of the opposite sex. Magnus Hirschfeld's group of transvestites consisted of both males and females, with heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and asexual orientations.

More recently, the term ‘Two Spirits’, which has traditional roots, has been preferred instead of transvestitism. This status was found in several North American First Nation's cultures and is interpreted as a way of integrating deviant members into cohesive, small societies.

While the term berdache is sometimes used to refer to women who take on male roles there do not appear to have been female berdache in North America and authors tend to prefer the term ‘amazon’ to describe these women.

The terms berdache or two spirits and amazon are important parts of the anthropology of gender and sexuality and reveal the social or cultural construction of gender. Berdache is generally a male who takes on the roles of women and who may also dress as a woman and engage in sexual intimacy with men. Berdache also refers to a transvestite or a person given to transvestitism.

Health Survey of Two-Spirited Native Americans - WALTERS, KARINA L.
Abstract: American Indian and Alaskan Native lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and two-spirited individuals (two spirits) are a drastically understudied and underserved group, at risk for multiple health and mental health problems. There are no national, quantitative, representative studies of this population on any topic. First, we will conduct structured survey interviews with 400 two spirits drawn from six sites across the U.S. The second aim is to test the, feasibility of an innovative non-probability sampling methodology that combines targeted, partial network, and respondent-driven sampling procedures in order to approximate a representative national sample of two spirits. Our results will contribute toward the refinement of a sample strategy useful in studying other hidden and stigmatized populations.