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A mistranslation of Burmese အခြောက် (a.hkrauk /ăhcauʔ/, dry article; homosexual man), from (a. /ă/, noun-forming prefix) + ခြောက် (hkrauk /hcauʔ/, dry). Apparently introduced before 1987 by Coleman et al. (see quotation below) who had an "inability to speak the local languages" and a "lack of training in anthropology".[1]



acault (plural acaults)

  1. A male who has special role in Myanmar folk religion and behaves in a way usually associated with women.
    • [1988, John Money, Gay, Straight, and In-Between[2], →ISBN, page 100:
      According to a recent travelers' report (Coleman, Celgon, and Gooren, 1987), the hijra community of India (see this chapter) has a counterpart in Burma, where men who live as women are called acault (pronounced a·chow').]
    • 1990, Eli Coleman, “Paradigatic Changes in Our Understanding of Homosexuality”, in Sexology: An Independent Field[3], page 117:
      Because Manguedon is the spirit who controls success and good fortune, acault become an important intermediary between those seeking good fortune and success and the -[sic] spirit god.
    • 2000, Richard Grossinger, Embryogenesis: Species, Gender, and Identity[4], →ISBN, page 664:
      A Burmese acault tells an ethnographer he is a woman only by his sexual role; otherwise, he expresses himself through his penis and its orgasms.
    • 2009, Michael G. Peletz, Gender Pluralism: Southeast Asia Since Early Modern Times, →ISBN, page 156:
      Recall in any event that is not unusual, as Coleman et al. (1992:317) reported, for a male to have sexual relations with an acault or, presumably with someone in one of the other lexically marked subject positions, []

Usage notes[edit]

The proper term in Burmese is နတ်ကတော် (natka.tau).[2][3] In Myanmar, these spirit mediums[2] may be female or male, and may or may not be transgender or cross-dressing, although they do wear costumes during ceremonial rituals when channeling spirits called "nats" in Myanmar. Homosexuality is not necessarily implied with spirit mediumship.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eli Coleman; Philip Colgan; Louis Gooren (June 1992), “Male cross-gender behavior in Myanmar (Burma): a description of the acault.”, in Archives of Sexual Behavior, volume 21, issue 3, DOI:10.1007/BF01542999, pages 314, 320. Note versions of the paper were presented at conferences in West Germany and the United states in 1989.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Addy Chen; Jack Arayawongchai; Sovannara (Thaiy) Kha; Nguyen Van Trung (February 2007), “Young Activists Reflect on Identity, Community, and Diversity Among Asia’s MSM”, in amfAR[1], retrieved 2021-12-20: “Another way we can reach MSM is through certain transgenders called Nat-Gadaw who act as interpreters of the spirit.”
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière (2005), “The Taungbyon Festival: Locality and Nation-Confronting in the Cult of the 37 Lords”, in Monique Skidmore, editor, Burma at the Turn of the 21st Century, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, →ISBN, OCLC 875895284, page 65