The Bugis people of South Sulawesi are a powerful ethnic group remarkable for their recognition of five separate genders: cis male, cis female, men who exhibit traditionally female traits and vice versa, and then a fifth gender called bissu. While for Bugis gender is often described as a spectrum, bissu are deemed to be above this classification: spiritual beings who are not halfway between male and female, but rather embody the power of both at once.
In the wake of World War II, a group of white women was brought to Japan to “liberate” its women. They spoke little or no Japanese and didn’t know much about the country. But these “occupationaires,” as they were called, had a tall mandate: Set Japanese women free by introducing them to the American way of life.