The Androgynous ‘Third Gender’ Of 17th-Century Japan

The Huffington Post

Generation Z refers to individuals born during the mid-1990s and early ‘00s often billed as the generation most likely to fully embrace gender fluidity. According to one report, around 56 percent of teens ages 13 to 20 know of someone who identifies themselves using gender-neutral pronouns like “they” or “ze.” Regarding sexual orientation, the study found that approximately one-third of the demographic has chosen to identify as neither heterosexual or homosexual, indicating that they are bisexual “to some degree.”

When it comes to matters of gender and sexuality, however, the prerogatives of this up-and-coming age group are not necessarily unprecedented. In fact, many living during Japan’s Edo period, which stretched from the early 1600s to about 1868, recognized a third gender centuries ago. That gender was known as “wakashu,” or “beautiful youths.”

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