which are based on having such a preference (e.g. ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’). This usage does take us beyond the purely biological and reproductive ways of talking about sex that prevailed in the past. It recognizes a kind of sexuality (homosexuality) that is not directed to procreation, and makes a distinction (homo/hetero) that is not about reproductive organs (whether one is straight or gay/lesbian does not depend on one’s anatomy). On the other hand, the ‘sexual orientation’ usage of sexuality could be said to reaffirm the connection between the ‘men and women’ sense of sex on one hand, and the ‘erotic desire and practice’ sense on the other, because it defines an individual’s sexuality exclusively in terms of which sex their It seems, then, that new theoretical terminology has not entirely dispelled confusion around sex, gender and sexuality. Partly, this may be because some speakers still cling to traditional beliefs (e.g. that the way women or men behave socially and sexually is a direct expression of innate biological characteristics). But it may also be partly because the phenomena denoted by the three terms – having a certain kind of body (sex), living as a certain kind of social being (gender), and having certain kinds of erotic desires (sexuality) – are not understood or experienced by most people in presentday social reality as distinct and separate. Rather, they are interconnected. Let us illustrate the problems this raises using a case where the relationship between sexuality and gender is both particularly salient and particularly complicated: the case of a group of people in Brazil known throughout the country as travestis (Kulick 1998). The word ‘travesti’ derives from trans-vestir, or ‘cross-dress’. But travestis do much more than cross-dress. Sometimes beginning at ages as young as eight or ten, males who selfidentify as travestis begin growing their hair long, plucking their eyebrows, experimenting with cosmetics, and wearing, whenever they can, feminine or androgynous clothing such as tiny shorts exposing the bottom of their buttocks or T-shirts tied in a knot above their navel. It is not unusual for boys of this age to also begin engaging in sexual relations with their peers and older males, always in the role of the one who is anally penetrated. By the time these boys are in their early teens, many of them have already either left home, or been expelled from their homes, because their sexual and gender transgressions are usually not tolerated, especially by the boys’ fathers. Once they leave home, the majority of travestis migrate to cities (if they do not already live in one), where they meet and form friendships with other travestis, and where they begin working as prostitutes. In the company of their travesti friends and colleagues, young travestis learn about oestrogen-based hormones, which are available for inexpensive over-thecounter purchase at any of the numerous pharmacies that line the streets
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