Do deities have gender? What about sexual characteristics? As non-physical (and some might say, metaphorical) beings, they can manifest in whatever form they want.
Deities are the identities or personalities of places, lands, natural phenomena, and cosmic forces. Sometimes they have an anthropomorphic interface: that’s to say they sometimes manifest in human form.
Sex is biological though not actually binary. There are seven different biological characteristics that are used to determine sex. Any of them can vary. Thus the division of sex into male and female is arbitrary and socially constructed. And let’s not forget about intersex people. Since deities don’t normally take physical form, I’m not sure they can be said to have a sex.
Gender is your identity and there are literally hundreds, even thousands, of different gender identities. There are deities all over the map when it comes to gender identity.
Deities, who are social beings, or at least their anthropomorphic aspects are, can express any of these myriad different gender identities, sometimes more than one at a time, sometimes none. This is one of the reasons why I’m a polytheist.
There are numerous deities who manifest as more than one gender, or are transgender, genderqueer, gender-fluid, or have same-sex partners.
“Hapi, the god of the Nile, is depicted in hieroglyphics as an intersex person with a ceremonial false beard and breasts. While generally referred to as male, the god also was also considered a symbol of fertility.”
The excellent book Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, History, and Spirit has details of numerous queer deities and saints.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like my new book, Dark Mirror: the Inner Work of Witchcraft.