Co-gender is an uncommon term that is not clearly defined. It may be used as a synonym for third gender, used in a gender inclusion sense, or both.


Some examples of how anthropologists have used the word "co-gender:"

  • When anthropologists write about shamanic traditions among the indigenous Mapuche (Araucana) people of Chile, they use co-gender to talk about roles that the machi (shamans) take on during their spiritual practice. Historically, as well as today, machi can have had any gender assigned at birth, and their practice involves ritual cross-dressing in order to communicate with certain aspects of their Creator as needed. At different times, they dress to take on a wife role for a male aspect of that deity, or to take on a husband aspect for a female aspect of that deity. The machi becomes part of a male-female pair with the Creator.[1] As concerning "co-gendered identities"[2] of "machi as co-gender specialists",[3], the machi themselves have often been characterized as berdaches, meaning indigenous gender roles that don't correspond to Western ideas of the strictly cisgender, heterosexual gender binary.
  • Anthropologists writing about cosmologies in which everything is characterized as having female and male aspects have referred to this as a co-gendered cosmos. Based on the primordial male-female deity couple, "in highland Guatemala, husbands and wives are trained together as shamans by a shaman couple. [They are taught to] recognize both cosmic co-gendering and their own co-gendered nature [...] they learn how to properly balance the feminine and masculine dimensions both within their own bodies and the cosmos."[4]

See also


  1. Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, Shamans of the Foye Tree. University of Texas Press. 2007.
  2. Bacigalupo, 2007. pp. 131-133
  4. Mariko Namba Walter and Eva Jane Neumann Fridman. Shamanism : an Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture. Santa Barbara, California. 2004. Page 134.
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