As modern society sweeps in, old ways are dying out, and the tradition of these “man-women” may soon be a thing of the past.
In northern Albania, an old tradition is slowly dying out, that of “Sworn Virgins”. These are women who chose to live as men, under an oath of lifelong celibacy, taking on both the freedoms and responsibilities of manhood in a strongly patriarchal society.
Albania: The Women Who Live as Men
It’s an unusual tradition in Albania, and today it’s dying out: the tradition of the sworn virgin. They are women who choose to live as men to escape the restrictions imposed on women in their patriarchal society.
They call themselves burrnesha, and have sworn a vow of chastity. Most of them made the decision during puberty to switch gender roles and live as men, though physically they remain female. The tradition of the “man-woman” has its origins in an ancient code of honor common in Albania whereby families without a male successor could choose a girl to fill the role of patriarch instead. -European Journal
Sworn Virgins – National Geographic