Who are the Xaniths of Omani?
The Xaniths are the third gender within the Omani social system. While Arabian Peninsula has the common two-gender system, the Omani considers the Xaniths as members of a distinct gender community. Despite being biologically men, the Xaniths are engaged in homosexual prostitution.
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However, prostitution is not the primary source of income for the Xaniths in Oman as they also work as domestic servants. Xaniths have different dressing codes as compared to other male members in the Omani society. They wear long tunic robes worn by men, but with pastel-colored decorations that are similar to female dresses (Archer and Barbara 102).
Men and women in Oman are subjected to the Purdah system which dictates the behavior of women and men in public. However, the Xaniths violate all the restrictions placed on women that include seclusion. They communicate intimately with women in public without raising public outcry. Xaniths do neither eat and sit together with other men in public nor play musical instruments that are associated with men.
What Social/cultural/sexual purpose do they serve in the Oman culture?
The Xaniths represents the transsexuals and homosexuals within the Omani society. As witnessed in other cultures, transsexuals violate common two gender system rules. Women and men have different roles within predominant Muslim countries like the Omani. As a result, the Xaniths behave either as women or as men.
However, this group has adopted a middle position which is distinct from the two genders. Homosexuals exist in almost all the societies across the globe. However, their issues and challenges are suppressed by the dominant transsexuals (Archer and Barbara 103).
The Xaniths have embraced themselves as neither men nor women but as a distinct sexual group. With their cross-gender dressing code, the group faces the challenges attributed to homosexuals within the society. Male prostitution is also common in various modern societies but lacks proper representation. The Omani Xaniths represent modern male prostitutes especially among homosexuals. Unlike other communities, they are non-secretive and engage in open prostitution.
The Xaniths also represent sexual development of homosexuals within the society. Their development phase is different from what transsexuals undergo within contemporary societies. However, homosexuals from different parts of the world experience the same development cycle as the Xaniths of Oman (Archer and Barbara 102).
How do we treat people that are like the Xaniths in our own society?
The Xaniths of Omani represent the transgender members of the society. Just like in Oman, this category of people is regarded lowly by other members of the society. Despite legal recognition of homosexuality and prostitution in modern countries, the view of the society has not changed. Transgender members of the society are disrespected and unrecognized. Their activities and actions are vilified by a conservative society that recognize in the existence of two genders (Archer and Barbara 103).
Unlike the transsexuals who contribute towards the growth of the society, transgender people are considered obsolete. They are not biologically women and cannot, therefore, reproduce. However, their sexual affiliation prevents them from engaging in normal sexual relationships like other men.
Religion and culture influence the way how the society views the Xaniths. In most Muslim cultures and traditions, homosexuality is prohibited and considered unnatural. This forms the basis of other contemporary views towards homosexuals, such as the Xaniths. Christianity also views homosexuality as unholy and ungodly. This informs the standard negative attitude of the society towards the third gender like the Xaniths of Oman.
Archer, J., and Barbara L. Sex and Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985. Print.