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However, the state of personally identifying as, or being identified by society as, a man, a woman, or other, is usually also defined by the individual's gender identity and gender role in the particular culture in which they live.Not all cultures have strictly defined gender roles.

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A sex/gender system which recognizes only the following two social norms has been labeled "heteronormative". Peletz believes our notions of different types of genders (including the attitudes toward the third gender) deeply affect our lives and reflects our values in society.

In Peletz' book, "Gender, Sexuality, and Body Politics in Modern Asia", he describes: For our purposes, the term "gender" designates the cultural categories, symbols, meanings, practices, and institutionalized arrangements bearing on at least five sets of phenomena: (1) females and femininity; (2) males and masculinity; (3) Androgynes, who are partly male and partly female in appearance or of indeterminate sex/gender, as well as intersexed individuals, also known as hermaphrodites, who to one or another degree may have both male and female sexual organs or characteristics; (4) the transgendered, who engage in practices that transgress or transcend normative boundaries and are thus by definition "transgressively gendered"; and (5) neutered or unsexed/ungendered individuals such as eunuchs.

This is seen as a mediation between the spirit and mundane worlds.

It is seen as a positive and is almost revered in most Eastern cultures, whereas in Western cultures, people who don’t conform to heteronormative ideals are often seen as sick, disordered, or insufficiently formed.

In Africa, a woman can be recognized as a “female husband” who enjoys all of the privileges of men and is recognized as such, but whose femaleness, while not openly acknowledged, is not forgotten either.

The hijras, of India, are one of the most recognized and socially accepted groups of third genders.

while sociological research in Australia, a country with a third 'X' sex classification, shows that 19% of people born with atypical sex characteristics selected an "X" or "other" option, while 52% are women, 23% men and 6% unsure.

The Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions states that the legal recognition of intersex people is firstly about access to the same rights as other men and women, when assigned male or female; secondly it is about access to administrative corrections to legal documents when an original sex assignment is not appropriate; and thirdly it is not about the creation of a third sex or gender classification for intersex people as a population but it is, instead, about self-determination.

At the same time, feminists began to draw a distinction between (biological) sex and (social/psychological) gender.

Contemporary gender theorists usually argue that a two-gender system is neither innate nor universal.

Gender may be organized differently in different cultures.

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