By Roland Littlewood, 2002
From the position of a formal sociology, Georg Simmel argued that the introduc- tion of a third element into a pervasive binary system can serve to mitigate the latter’s salience. The instance considered here is that of a third sex in Northern Albania. “Sworn virgins” are generally perceived as women who become men (gender crossing) rather than as an additional engendered category (multiple gender). The overarching signi cance of the Albanian gender system is thereby barely attenuated, and virgjinesha do not contribute to a less subdominant position for other women.