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Trigenderism is a non-binary gender identity in which one shifts between or among the stereotypical behaviors of male, female and a third gender (genderless, a mix of male and female, or any other variety of genderqueer identities). A trigender person may shift from one gender to another depending on the individual's mood or situation. In contrast, someone who is gender fluid and identifies as trigender may mix two or more genders at a time. Trigender falls under the general category of genderqueer or androgyny, a gender identity that goes beyond the normal binary gender system (male and female) and tends to be a catch-all place for other gender identities. It can also be seen as the equivalent cultures that recognize individuals to define their own sense of self. North American Indians are one of several groups to recognize a tri-gender system where the term berdache was used to differentiate the intermediate gender role .
This does not equate to dissociative identity disorder as a trigender person has one set of values and beliefs, yet these may fluctuate as the individual shifts from genders. In most Western or European societies this third sex differentiation is not so easily bestowed upon a person and in many instances, straying outside of the gender dichotomy becomes socially unacceptable. Western influence and Carolus Linnaeus' work that encouraged a categorization of life has led to marginalization for those outside of the heteronormative realm.
Gender is somewhat difficult to measure, leading to the common belief that sex and gender are the same. Research, i.a. by Diamond, Milton and Dick Swaab, shows that pattens in gender behavior/thoughts/feelings can be identified in the brain. Trigender individuals, much like bigender individuals often feel the need to "present" as the gender they feel like at the given time. So, on some days they may present themselves as members of their birth-assigned sex by wearing clothing associated with that gender, and on others will attempt to pass as a cisgender member of the opposite sex, either to reduce gender dysphoria or simply to be perceived socially as the opposite sex. Sometimes they will express themselves androgynously to avoid having to deal with complications of living as more than one gender. Some genderfuck by consistently expressing more than one gender at a time. Biological females who become pregnant choose to present as female during the whole duration of pregnancy due to the unwanted attention of being perceived as a "pregnant man". Bigender and trigender people must undergo the process of learning to live as female and male culturally if they choose to express other genders. The May 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind is entirely on the social and biological constructs of gender expression and includes a small four page article in the back how studying transsexuals can bring greater insight into this field of study. The learning process of male and female cultural roles includes learning how to walk, talk, interact verbally and non-verbally, think, behave and more beyond just presenting the physical body as one gender or another.
Trigenderism is considered rare and presently there is no cohesive community in which trigender individuals can share information, nor has there been a need to study or address specific issues associated with trigenderism. For the most part, trigender people find their accommodations and needs the same as bigender people. As transgender children have started to get more media attention in the 1990s and 2000s, studies have tried to further understand transgender issues. Some College and University LGBTQ groups and alliances are increasingly finding their communities more gender fluid (and sexual orientation fluid) as well and less oriented towards traditional labels such as "gay", "bisexual", and "straight". The American Psychological Association and University of California, San Franscisco both recognize bigender as a subset of the transgender community. In the UK, "polygender" is a common term found on transgender websites, forums, and support groups, as well as at the Scottish Transgender Alliance.
Sexual orientation usually stays the same, regardless of the gender a trigender person feels like. Sexual orientation and gender constitute two different parts of the brain, therefore, gender and sexual orientation act independently of each other. What can become confusing is labeling. For example: an individual that is feeling and/or presenting as female and is attracted to females would be labeled "lesbian" by others (because they are a female attracted to females). But when they feel and/or present as male and their attraction to females still remains, they are often labeled "straight" by others (because they are now a male attracted to females). Some, but not all trigender individuals feel that sexual orientation and labels are therefore irrelevant or too complicated. For them, what is more important is who their partner is as a person. Instead they put more emphasis on sexual orientations such as pansexual or simply "a loving individual" or "equal opportunity lover". Some identify as bisexual and others are simply attracted to one sex or gender. People who are monosexual often use labels such as androphile or gynephile to avoid specifying their own gender, preferring to place emphasis on the gender of their attraction. Trigender people can also be asexual.
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