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From French bardache, from Italian bardassa, perhaps from Arabic بَرْدَج(bardaj, slave). Doublet of bardash.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /bəˈdaʃ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /bəɹˈdæʃ/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: (US) -æʃ


berdache (plural berdaches or berdache)

  1. (anthropology, dated, now offensive) Among Native Americans, a person who identifies with any of a variety of gender identities which are not exclusively those of their biological sex; a transgender person. [from 19th c.]
    • 1980, Kenneth E. Read, “Observations on the Current State of Anthropological Research on Homosexual Behavior”, in Other Voices: The Style of a Male Homosexual Tavern[1], Novato, Cali.: Chandler & Sharp Publishers, Inc., →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 187:
      These culturally bound assumptions have bedevilled the entire anthropological literature on the berdache in Native American cultures, and it is because of this that I have followed the lead of Angelino and Shedd when referring to the phenomenon of the berdache-transgenderal, for as Fitzgerald (1977) points out: "A berdache . . . may be a transvestite, but a transvestite need not be a berdache; and neither need be homosexual."
    • 1989, Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Christine Roberts, “Sex, Sexuality, Gender, and Gender Variance”, in Sandra Morgen, editor, Gender and Anthropology: Critical Reviews for Research and Teaching[2], Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association, →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 439:
      Gender is the sociocultural designation of biobehavioral and psychosocial qualities of the sexes; for example, woman (female), man (male), other(s) (e.g., berdaches²). Notions of gender are culturally specific and depend on the ways in which cultures define and differentiate human (and other) potentials and possibilities. While many people in Western society may think first of heterosexual women and men when the word "gender" is mentioned, there are more gender possibilities than just those two.
    • 2005, Michael J Horswell, Decolonizing the Sodomite, University of Texas, published 2006, page 20:
      Male berdache have been documented in nearly 150 North American societies, while female berdache (females who take on the lifeways of males) appear in half as many groups.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:berdache.

Usage notes[edit]

Considered offensive by many Native American communities because of its pejorative and non-American etymology, berdache began to fall out of use in the 1990s; two-spirit and various tribe-specific terms (wergern, etc) are now used instead.

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]




berdache m (plural berdaches)

  1. Alternative form of bardache



From French bardache, from Italian bardassa, perhaps from Arabic بَرْدَج(bardaj, slave).


berdache m or f by sense (plural berdaches)

  1. two-spirit (native American who is transgender or belongs to a third gender)