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wow. this is actually the complete opposite of the samoan "fa'afafine", or boys raised as girls when the village was overpopulated with too many males and not enough females. however, traditionally fa'afafine didn't have their sexuality stripped from them, they could go on to marry women while continually living as a transgender.

Posted by nesoxochi | June 25, 2008 9:12 AM

hmm seems more about how you need a leader to head the claim when the blood feud kills all the men.

More reproting on blood feuds please!!

E.g., Albanaia, 38th district, 46th districts.....glad we've settled that HRC BHO one.

Any way saw a great movie at the Egyptian yesterday about an inspiring new leader who drew everyone to him by offering hope, change and unity & appealing to higher instincts. (And he held taxes (e.g. his plunder share) down to 10%.

"Yes we Khan!"

Posted by PC | June 25, 2008 9:18 AM

pks ifnore mispellgs

Posted by PD | June 25, 2008 9:19 AM

Yikes - when I saw the headline, it sounded like the sworn virgins had been outlawed, rather than becoming a cultural artifact. I've always thought it was a cool aspect of Albanian culture (even if it was prompted by unfortunate blood feuds).

I have to say, though, I was recently in a very remote region of Albania for research, and while the roles of women may be changing in places like Tirana, things are still pretty old-school in the area where I was. I didn't meet any sworn virgins, but there was definitely still the man-is-master, woman-is-packhorse vibe going strong.

Posted by Helena | June 25, 2008 9:51 AM

This was an amazing article. I had to wonder how many of these sworn virgins were actually transgender men who were able to live in their gender thanks to this cultural outlet.

Posted by Gitai | June 25, 2008 10:09 AM

Alice Munro wrote a really stunning short story about this custom--"The Albanian Virgin."

Posted by did you know? | June 25, 2008 10:45 AM

You're right - that is totally fascinating. Thanks for posting it.

Posted by genevieve | June 25, 2008 10:47 AM

Yes, fascinating, but there's no element of preference to this at all...

I had to wonder how many of these sworn virgins were actually transgender men who were able to live in their gender thanks to this cultural outlet.

Only those "lucky" enough to (1) be the eldest daughter, (2) have no living brothers, and (3) have their fathers killed at just the right time (age 20 it would seem). How many FTMs in the US would fit those criteria? And even then, these are "sworn virgins." They don't REALLY get to live as men, because they don't get to marry women.

There's nothing trans-positive about this. It's an interesting cultural relic, but no one should make happy GLBTQ rah-rah about it.

Posted by L | June 25, 2008 12:31 PM

“Back then, it was better to be a man because before a woman and an animal were considered the same thing,” said Ms. Keqi, who has a bellowing baritone voice, sits with her legs open wide like a man and relishes downing shots of raki. “Now, Albanian women have equal rights with men, and are even more powerful. I think today it would be fun to be a woman.”

this is not the testimonial of a transgender, gitai @5. more like the testimonial of a woman in the grip of a brutally sexist society.

Posted by ellarosa | June 25, 2008 9:59 PM

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