The Hindu American Foundation has published an updated brief on LGBTQ rights, placing these contemporary discussions within a millennia-old traditional framework that describes three essential natures of human gender and sexual identity.  

Hindu knowledge sources, particularly medical treatises, approached gender and sexuality with nuance and in multi-dimensional terms, in effect treating gender as an attribute that highly overlaps with, but is still distinct from sex. Overall, human beings are divided into three main categories of gendered innate traits: feminine, masculine  or third natured (Tṛtīya-prakṛti in Sanskrit). The third can be further divided into seven general categories, and over 40 specific categories based on combinations of biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical capability and sexual interests.

Read: HAF Policy Brief – LGBTQ Rights 

Listen: That’s So Hindu podcast – All about the Third Nature: An expansive millennia-old Hindu framework for discussing gender and sexuality

When HAF published the first edition of its position paper in 2015, few Hindus, let alone Hindu organizations, openly discussed topics related to the LGBTQ community. In contrast, support and opposition to the LGBTQ community had already been a defining feature of American culture wars and political organizing, for decades. It is for that reason that HAF made the decision to take a public stand, as Hindus grounded in timeless spiritual principles, in support of the rights of LGBTQ people.

For 2024, we have updated this guide not only to reflect the current moment, but also to inspire nuanced, compassionate and spiritually grounded perspectives beyond the limits imposed by contemporary political polarization and dogmatism.