Some Indigenous tribes use the phrase “Two-Spirit,” which encompasses cultural, spiritual, sexual, and gender identity.
The phrase represents the long history of sexual and gender variety in Indigenous cultures as well as their nuanced views on gender roles, spirituality, and more. Each country has its own unique lingo and set of responsibilities for its Two-Spirit citizens. In the early 1990s, a group of prominent members of the Two-Spirit community came together and coined the term “Two-Spirit.”
The term “Two-Spirit” should be used only by Indigenous people because of the cultural, spiritual, and historical significance it holds for these groups. It’s important to note that not all Indigenous people who have multiple sexual orientations or gender expressions identify as Two-Spirit. Many fall into the LGBTQ+ category instead.
Before colonialism, communities welcomed and honored their Two-Spirit individuals, who often served as healers, matchmakers, counselors, and others in highly regarded positions. Attempts have been made to wipe out Two-Spirit communities as part of colonialism. Western religious norms and beliefs that were placed on Indigenous people denounced sexual and gender diversity, and Two-Spirit people were killed or forced to assimilate and hide.
Because to the rising homophobia and transphobia in many Indigenous communities, many Two-Spirit people have been forced to leave their homelands as a result of colonization (and subsequently, their families, land, and culture).
It is now widely acknowledged that homophobia and transphobia go counter to most traditional Indigenous values, and that the position of Two-Spirit people within Indigenous communities is being reclaimed. One aspect of the healing process taking place in Indigenous communities is the restoration of Two-Spirit people to their historical roles and the revaluation of their abilities.
Within the LGBTQ+ and Indigenous communities, there has been a renaissance of Two-Spirit leadership, resources, community groups, and events, and there has been increased visibility of the Two-Spirit community. Below, you’ll find links to various materials that will shed light on the various initiatives now under way.