Gender systems by country
Gender systems are social constructs generally linking inherent physical sexual characteristics to specific social roles, but not always strictly. They can become linked to legal systems, defining specific rights for different genders. While most societies recognize at least two genders (male and female, often exclusively), many other cultures have different systems. Even among groups with overall similar systems, there may be different divisions of labour, dress codes, and other differences. As social systems, gender systems are usually tied to particular ethnic groups or world regions, but may also be enforced by religion or other structures.
- 1 Terminology
- 2 Gender systems
- 2.1 Binary gender systems
- 2.2 Trinary systems
- 2.3 Quaternary systems
- 2.4 Quinary and larger systems
- 2.5 Nonary systems
- 3 Legal recognition
In this article, it is recommended to reserve the terms "male and female, masculine and feminine, boys and girls, men and women, and nonbinary/genderqueer/etc" for social genders, and "AFAB, AMAB, and intersex" to refer to sexual characteristics. AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) people are typically born with a vulva, vagina, uterus and ovaries, and develop breasts and the ability to give birth, have higher oestrogen levels, and XX chromosomes. People who are Assigned Male At Birth (AMAB) are typically born with a penis and testicles, and develop facial hair (at least, in most ethnic groups) and the ability to impregnate, and have higher testosterone levels, and XY chromosomes. However, some unknown percentage of the population are intersex or sex-variant, having some mixture of these characteristics.
Together AFAB and AMAB can be referred to as the binary sexes or binary sex system. Similarly male and female can be called the binary genders.
Binary gender systems
Most of Sahar uses a binary gender system of male and female, linking those genders to AMAB and AFAB phenotypes. Some of these countries permit legal sex change and/or medical sex change to the other binary gender, while others do not.
Sanmra legally recognizes a male/female binary gender system; there is no way to change a person's sex designation on their legal birth record. There is also strong social pressure for people to adhere to the binary gender system. However, there are no laws restricting gender presentation or non-binary genders, and while it is not uncommon for surgical intervention on intersex people as infants, it is also not legally mandated.
Vaniuan regional culture recognizes only two genders and ties them strictly to the binary sexes. They tend to mandate surgical intervention on those with intersex characteristics.
An alternative binary system has two genders, but they are not male/female.
There are two broad types of trinary systems: the "male-female-other" system, which sets the vast majority of the population into the two binary genders, and recognizes either a specific third gender or has a legal "basket taxon" for several distinct groups (e.g. nonbinary, transgender and intersex people). These can be called "binary-plus" systems (although that could also refer to larger systems where the basis is still male/female). The other main type are those that do not rely on sex characteristics at all, or do not map them to social roles in the same way as the typical binary system. In contrast to "binary-plus" this might be called a "true trinary" system.
The Jáhka people, native to the archipelago of Jáhkavarra, have always recognised various forms of a "third gender" apart from male and female. Called lihttin (singular lihto) in the Jáhkarrá language, members of this gender were and are generally accepted and integrated. In a traditional society, lihttin could perform both female and male duties, even switiching between different societal contexts, but were expected to conform to a single gender in a given environment. Because of this special aspect of their identity, lihttin often became shamans and as such wielded substantial influence over both tribal chiftains and common people alike. The Jáhka system is thus not one of three separate gender roles, but has a third one whose fluidity between the genders is considered natural. Homosexuals, both male and female, were sometimes also labelled lihto, although the continuing modernisation and internationalisation of Jáhkavarra and the concomitant awareness of gender studies has narrowed down use of the term so that it nowadays mainly refers to transgender, genderfluid and/or intersex people.
The Lahani countries of Kaiyyo and Tuyo have a traditional true trinary system based on codifications of labour division. The system evolved from a mix of various groups that came to the island in successive migrant waves including the pre-Sañuan peoples, the Sañuans, and the Lahiri. The three genders can be quickly summarized as "those that stay [at home/in the village], those that leave [for the day and then come back], and those that voyage [for extended periods]" with a roughly 40:50:10 traditional demographic makeup.
During the colonial era these systems were influenced first by the quarternary Neviran and binary Shohuanese systems. This reformed the legal system from the 1700s to the 1950s when the countries won independence. While there has been a push to return to the still-practiced traditional system in legal terms, the situation is complicated by settler descendants of the two colonial groups and recent immigrant populations.
Jute and South Jute
The Jutean people recognize three genders, traditionally considered "carers, guards, and those in between."
Some countries, notably those in Lower Ekuosia, recognize four genders. These may have some link to sexual characteristics, or not.
The predominant legal and social gender system in Lower Ekuosia is the quaternary Quurozarq gender system (QGS). QGS is also legally recognized in some neighbouring states such as Barradiwa which have strong historical ties to Lower Ekuosia. There are two genders each per the two binary sexes, roughly divided into masculine and feminine personalities respectively, but each has its own distinct social roles, dress codes, legal rights including those related to property ownership and acceptable wedding unions, and religious duties.
Gender is determined in late childhood. After that time legal sex change is permitted, albeit rare. Medical sex change is also permitted, but not required. Finally, those born with intersex characteristics are, in some regions, set into an unofficial fifth gender; while others are permitted to take whichever of the four genders suits them best. Surgical intervention on intersex individuals occurs only voluntarily.
Other quaternary systems
Herdek also recognizes four genders.
Quinary and larger systems
Garohe has one of these.
Some areas have no formal gender system whatsoever. While they may recognize the distribution of the majority population into two (or more) sex groups, they have no distinctive social roles tied to them in a legal or cultural sense.
In the Allied Territories of the Achiyitqan and Vodholk Peoples, there is no formal or legal gender system. In common spoken language, the nearest words to genders or sexes are for people who are pregnant or who have given birth, and no other distinctions are made; terminology exists in medical and agricultural circles to describe different classic sexual phenotypes, but these are not in common usage. (These linguistic tendencies extend to the entire Maakpauean language family as well as the extant Vodholk language in the area. This can cause difficulties for international travel to some regions.
There is also no gender system in Mermelia.
Countries may have a difference between their own traditional or social system, and the various systems or genders that they recognize in legal terms. There may especially be differences between the genders they will print on their own citizens' identification papers, and those that they will recognize as valid for incoming tourists or immigrants.
|Country||Local system||Legality of other systems|
|Achiyitqana||Nonary||There is no legal distinction. All forms of ID are accepted.|
|Balakia||Binary||All forms of ID are accepted for tourists, who may be granted a temporary, appropriate gender marker for their ID. Immigrants are assigned a traditional sex-based gender in addition to the one they identify as on their ID. Citizens of Balakia must have one of the two recognised genders.|
|Povan Union||Quurozarq||'Male' and 'female' typically equate to sena and ukrar. Visitors and non-citizens are usually given the "most equivalent" Quurozarq gender in addition to the one they identify as on their ID. Citizens of the Povan Union must have one of the four recognized genders. (Permanent residents in the provinces of Lannado, Romutho, and Iveti must also use one of the four Quuroziri genders on all provincial documentation.)|
|Tabiqa||Quurozarq||'Male' and 'female' are typically simply considered sena and ukrar. Tourists may be granted a temporary, appropriate gender marker for their ID. Immigrants must take a Quurozarq gender.|
|Tuyo||Lahani||Most IDs are accepted for tourists. Some citizens have been granted Quurozarq IDs. Most immigrants must take a Lahani gender.|