Autumn Sandeen notes that Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who was given a 14 year sentence last week under Malawi’s anti-homosexuality law, identifies as a woman. Sandeen believes that "we can safely say that from past coverage by the LGBT press and LGBT blogosphere that this story would not have gained as much traction in LGBT media if this were considered a transgender or intersex story". But Jim Burroway isn't sure that either the gay or transgender label fits:
It turns out that in many traditional cultures, it may be more acceptable for women to take on what westerners perceive as “masculine” traits, and for men to take on what westerners would label more “feminine” traits. Which means that many of the external peripheral markers that we use to understand the contours of our masculinity or femininity become less important in many traditional cultures. But in these non-western cultures, gender roles what men and women do as opposed to who they are are considered much more important in defining what is a man and what is a woman. Against that realty, our understanding of gay/straight/transgender/whatever has only a passing relevance.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.