28 May 2009

The Third Gender

So, I alluded to it in my last post.

The Third Gender.

Does anyone else think that thatmeans the aliens have landed?

According to an article I read in the paper a few days ago, in the 2011 census, the third gender are going to be acknowledged for the first time. People will be able to identify themselves as 'Third Gender'. There will be a 'Male' box, a 'Female' box and a 'Third Gender' box. This is a landslide, a victory in many ways.

According to a random fact Rory threw out earlier today, 15% of Nepali's classify as Third Gender. To me, this is a surprising high number, but perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. What is Third Gender.

From what I understand, Third Gender is a umbrella term to describe "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex" people. In my brief search I found that 2% of men and 1% of women in Australia identify as homosexual, I have no idea about the others. But at any rate this 15% number intrigues me.

The articles I have read suggest that the Nepali Supreme Court's decision to that the government repeal all discriminatory legislation against the Third Gender is a milestone for the community. I respect that. People have suggested, that even allowing people to identify as Third Gender in the census can help health policy as homosexuals are more at risk from HIV/AIDS etc.

I accept the value to human rights and anti-discrimination. But speaking as a data manager, (currently) a researcher and my general opinion, you can't just lump sexual preference in there with gender. They are two entirely seperate things. I think at the last hospital I worked at there were 5 options fo selecting gender and ZERO for selecting seual preference. Perhaps collection of that type of information would be incredibly useful. The privacy and sensibility of such a move would have to be debated and I have no intention of doing that here.

But as a data manager, the idea that 15% (if that is indeed an accurate number) of people will no longer be listed as male or female in the 2011 census is horrifying. I mean, what the hell will that do to the statistics, TO THE ANALYSIS???? ARGH! It blows my mind. OK, so you get a win in being abe to target health policies towards homosexual PEOPLE (not specifically men) or ttrans-gender or intersex, but you lose the ability to target health policies at do that same thing specifically at both women and men that have also ticked that box. Just because somebody has ticked the box to Third Gender because they are gay doesn't mean that they have changed body parts (they still have genitals). Women are one of the most underserved groups in Nepal (like most of the developing world) if the census (that a great many statistics are based on) don't accurately represent their number in any given population, they how good can any health policy or research be?

Yay to the Third Gender, but perhaps, a more practical implementation of it's meteoric rise?


Dash said...

sorry for the horrible number of typos in there,its late and i'm exhausted.

po said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
po said...

Well, I think it is a good thing. But as you say will probably lead to all sorts of unseen discriminations and wierdnesses.

As a fairly unrelated aside, here in the UK a Chilean friend of a friend went to get registered at the doctor. When it came to the questionare about race she ticked Caucasian. The receptionist told her that no, she was not Caucasian. The Chilean assured her that she knew her own race, and that she was. The receptionist told her that no, she was not, and that she must tick OTHER, and write OLIVE.

Have you ever heard of a racial grouping called olive? I think that may be taking classification a bit too far!

Kez said...

Hmm. I agree. It's great what they're trying to do, but gender and sexual preference are NOT THE SAME THING!
Sounds very confusing and will skew the results. If I was a lesbian woman, and I had to tick third gender, I would feel insulted - like they're saying I don't count as a woman?
Very interesting though.

Dash said...

it definitely poses food for thought.

I think your Chilean friend had better go back there and in no uncertain terms tell that ignorant receptionist to keep her mouth shut.

Kez, how do you think it would go down in Oz if you were to explain your sexual preference each time you went to the doctor?

Isa said...

Dash, I totally agree that gender and sexual preference are not the same thing - there is a third gender, people who identify as trans-gender. Getting something like that recognised would be really progressive and totally awesome - however, it sounds like they can replace the term "Third gender" in your survey with "we don't want to know about it", really....

Amy xxoo said...

I think that if they were going to offer Third Gender as an option, it should only be used for people who are transgendered or born with both sets of genitals ( hermaphrodites? is that still the right term ? ). Gays and lesbians, despite theyre sexual preferences, are still either male or female.... not both, or neither.