Gender Equality

The Third Gender


By Maisha Zahir and Muskan Mortuza

Edited by Adeeb Chowdhury


The words transgender, transsexual and intersex create a good deal of confusion in today’s world; even we were having confusions regarding their meanings. Therefore, before jumping into the main point of this article, we’d like to shed light on these terms and their meanings.

A transgender is a person whose personality gender is opposite to their birth sex. In a more literary term, it is one gender trapped inside another.

A transsexual is a person who changes their gender through medications or surgeries.

Finally, an intersex, or more commonly known as hermaphrodites, are people with both female and male biological characteristics.

Now that the definitions are clarified, let’s focus more on the topic of the article, which is the third gender, which is, intersex people.

The reason why we prefer the term intersex over hermaphrodite, is because hermaphrodite is pejorative, outdated and stigmatizing to the intersex community. It also suggests that a person has all the genitals of males and females, which is biologically impossible, deeming it illogical. Intersex, however, refers to any variations in sexual characteristics, be it in the genitals or the hormones.

A lot of countries have given intersex people basic human rights, but the society has not yet accepted this community properly.
They are not given even one moment of acceptance, as their struggles start right from their birth. Parents who realize their child is intersex go through a huge shock, and most of them disown the poor kid. Because who wants to have a socially unacceptable child? But the one thing they don’t understand is that the unacceptance starts from them. If they would have been able to approve their child, a difference would have been made, may it be small or big. Since growing up, they have next to no guidance, emotional or moral support, they end up doing things that make the society hate them even more. They are deprived of education, and eventually a proper lifestyle. They fail to get proper jobs, either because they are not qualified for it, or because nobody wants to have an intersex between them. Bangladesh fully recognizes intersex as the third gender, has given them the right to vote, and identify themselves. Even so, this community is mostly uneducated, unemployed and isolated from the society. Which forces them to turn to begging, thievery, or other methods of earnings that are not considered ethical. This results in everybody hating them. But no one understands what actually drives them to do it. The society refuses to recognize them, let alone consider them as equals.

Intersex conditions are considered as a disease.
In some developed countries, intersex children are subjected to numerous surgeries and alterations, that are supposedly done to make them ‘normal’. These practices cause irreversible physical and psychological harm to these infants. More so, the state pressurizes the parents to agree to these damaging surgeries. The fact that these kids, whose lives are in the line, are unable to voice their opinions about this matter, is disheartening.

A lot of schemes are done to ensure equal human rights to everybody; yet so many people are neglected of very basic rights like education and shelter simply because they are different.We keep talking about gender equality, always forgetting the invisible third gender. So many of us do not even properly understand this subject and lack knowledge regarding the matter! Their gender identities are constantly being hidden because it’s ‘not normal’. Any questions raised are usually ignored, diverted or considered taboo. In fact, their identity is just brought up to use as an insult.
If we could bring a change to this by enlightening our system about the intersex community, who they are and where they come from, we might have a genuine chance at making their lives better. We have written this, in hopes that we all shall take a step, may it be big or small, to make this world a place where ALL of US can feel like equals.

About the Authors

Muskan Mortuza Mustarin
Journalist of the Global Environment and Health department

Muskan is a  private A Level student. She is an intense bookworm and finds great pleasure in writing & blogging about books. She believes Public Speaking to be one of her strong qualities. Muskan loves interacting with people about all things nerdy.



Syeda Maisha Zahir
Chief Editor of the Refugees and Racial Minorities department
Maisha is an O level graduate from Chittagong International School. Her interests include reading, writing, music, baking and poetry recitation. She enjoys discussing and learning about world issues.


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