Lhamana is the traditional Zuni gender role, now described variously as mixed-gender or Two-Spirit, for men who lived in part as women, wearing a mixture of women's and men's clothing and doing a great deal of women's work as well as serving as mediators. The most famous lhamana was We'wha.

Gilley (2006, p.8), as is common after Roscoe (1991, p.22-28), describes lhamana as a third gender, "occupied by a male-bodied person" who "dressed as women and performed women's crafts [in Zuni culture<note>In contrast with European culture knitting, for example, was a male craft.</note>] such as weaving and potting, but also had the physical strength to fulfill certain male-orientated pursuits such as hunting big game and cutting firewood."

Though seen by European colonialists as gay or transgender, the Zuni lhamana played a significant role in the community that cannot be reduced to same-sex desire or cross dressing. Functions fulfilled by lhamana individuals in Zuni society include mediation, skill in crafts, and the knowledge necessary for instructing others. The lack of homophobia in traditional Zuni culture marks a further difference between the lhamana role and contemporary Euro-American gender and sexual identities. European terms used to describe lhamana include berdache, third gender, mixed gender, and man-woman.


  • Gilley, Brian Joseph (2006). Becoming Two-Spirit: Gay Identity and Social Acceptance in Indian Country. ISBN 0803271263.
  • Roscoe, Will (1991). The Zuni Man-Woman. ISBN 0826312535.

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