Men, women, and…what?
The third gender is not necessarily a finite ‘third gender’, but rather a means to provide another gender category that breaks the binary developed by coloniality’s patriarchal hierarchy. Michael J. Horswell addresses this in Maria Lugones’ “The Coloniality of Gender”. Clearly, this third gender operates outside of the system put in place by the colonized United States. However, this article aims to raise the question of how the third gender would function if it were to exist in the patriarchal society that has been established by coloniality in the United States.
First, the concept of the third gender will be discussed as not being legally accepted as that is an issue in current day, and has been for a while. So, how would it function? There is no doubt that the United States functions on the basis of a capitalist society. It is important to note that the patriarchy and capitalism work hand in hand together. In terms of capitalism, perhaps, the third gender would be grouped with the lesser of the two genders (women). In this sense, those who are third gender would be grouped as inferior in relation to men because the patriarchal society does not allow existence beyond the binary. It would be easier to group a third gender with those oppressed by the system because this would further allow more power to be distributed to the few who own the means of the production in a capitalist society. As has been evident throughout history, not only in the United States, but elsewhere as well, it is easier to exclude than include within a hierarchy.
If the third gender was legally accepted in the United States, I argue that a similar hierarchy would exist as if it were not legally accepted. I state this because if the United States wanted to remain a society heavily affected by coloniality, then it would not allow a third gender legally. In legally acknowledging a third gender, the third gender would become all the more ‘real’. Since the system coloniality created functions on the definition of operating within a heterosexual, patriarchal, and binary hierarchy, to do anything outside the confines of that would entail a new system.
This in no way is meant to discourage those fighting to establish a third gender under legal terms. In fact, there have been individual legal cases in parts of the United States where a third gender has been accepted for certain people. Simply, my argument is that if a third gender were to operate without legal bounds, those who adhere to it would be oppressed. If the third gender did operate within legal boundaries in the United States, the system of coloniality would not exist in the same manner because a fundamental portion of it would be challenged.