This ‘third gender’ is a completely normal phenomenon on the islands. If a boy begins showing a tendency towards acting ‘female’, the family naturally accepts and allows him to grow up as such. Very often, Omeggid will learn a skill that is typically associated with women; for example, most Omeggid living on the islands become masters at crafting the most intricate molas.

Diego Madi Dias, an anthropologist and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Sao Paulo, lived among the Guna for more than two years and has seen first-hand that the powerful matriarchal figures in Guna culture are a major influence on the Guna men.

“The Guna have taught me that children should have sufficient autonomy, as their ‘self’ comes from the heart, from within, and starts manifesting early. So if a male child starts showing a tendency toward being transgender, (s)he is not prevented to be himself,” he said.