Trans And Native: Meet The Indigenous Doctor Giving Them Hope - AJ+and for
When attempting to explain the concept of Two Spirit people in Indian country, many people may visualize images of Unicorns and Rainbows, Donna Summers and Seventies disco balls. Try to explain the concept of Two Spirit outside Indian country, and you may as well throw in war bonnets and glitter. For generations, Two Spirit Native culture went underground to avoid detection and persecution. Today the Two Spirit movement has been negatively affected by rumor, gossip, the tyranny of western religion, and an all-around lack of information. Two Spirit people have both a male and female spirit within them and are blessed by their Creator to see life through the eyes of both genders. The term does not diminish the tribal-specific names, roles and traditions nations have for their own Two Spirit people.
Traditionally, Native American two spirit people were male, female, and sometimes intersexed individuals who combined activities of both men and women with traits unique to their status as two spirit people. In most tribes, they were considered neither men nor women; they occupied a distinct, alternative gender status. In tribes where two spirit males and females were referred to with the same term, this status amounted to a third gender. In other cases, two spirit females were referred to with a distinct term and, therefore, constituted a fourth gender. Although there were important variations in two spirit roles across North America, they shared some common traits:.
They have been documented in every region of the continent, among speakers of every major language group, and in every kind of tribe, from the hunters of the arctic, to the foragers of native California, the Pueblo farmers of the Southwest, and the nomadic warrior-hunters of the Great Plains. Native American two-spirits were male, female, and sometimes intersexed individuals who combined activities of both men and women with traits unique to their status as two spirits. In most tribes, they were considered neither men nor women; they occupied a distinct, alternative gender status. In tribes where male and female two spirits were referred to with the same term, this status amounted to a third gender. In other cases, female two spirits were referred to with a distinct term and, therefore, constituted a fourth gender. Although there were important variations in two-spirit roles across North america, they share a some common traits:. Specialized work roles.
Who are the Two Spirits?
Being Two Spirit: A Brief Explainer
Two-Spirit also two spirit or, occasionally, twospirited is a modern, pan-Indian , umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe Native people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant ceremonial role in their cultures. While this new term has not been universally accepted—it has been criticized by traditional communities who already have their own terms for the people being grouped under this new term, and by those who reject what they call the "western" binary implications, such as implying that Natives believe these individuals are "both male and female"  —it has generally received more acceptance and use than the anthropological term it replaced. Cameron writes, "The term two-spirit is thus an Aboriginal-specific term of resistance to colonization and non-transferable to other cultures.
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As an umbrella term it may encompass same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender variance, including people who might be described in Western culture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, gender queer, cross-dressers or who have multiple gender identities. Two-spirit can also include relationships that could be considered poly. The term is a translation of the Anishinaabemowin term niizh manidoowag , two spirits. Some Indigenous languages do not have terms to describe sexual identities such as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Many Indigenous languages are verb-focussed, and describe what people do rather than how they identify. We also welcome other collaborations with two-spirit researchers and communities to explore new research possibilities.