India’s 2011 national census, which goes into the field this week, includes not just the usual two gender categories, but for the first time a third one, called “other.”  The national census in Nepal, to be conducted in May, also will include three gender options, prompted by a ruling by that nation’s highest court ordering greater protections for the rights of transgender, gay and lesbian and bisexual people.

As this posting from the Population Reference Bureau explains,  the “third sex” is not a recent concept in many parts of the world, although the change on the census form has generated many stories in the Indian press.

The U.S. census form, as shown here, offers the standard two options, male and female.