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OTHER WORDS FROM two-spirittwo-spirit·ed, adjective
Words nearby two-spirit
ABOUT THIS WORD
What does two-spirit mean?
Two-spirit is a third gender found in some Native American cultures, often involving birth-assigned men or women taking on the identities and roles of the opposite sex. A sacred and historical identity, two-spirit can include but is by no means limited to LGBTQ identities.
Where did the term two-spirit come from?
The term two-spirit is an umbrella term across American Indian and First Nations cultures for a person who embodies both male and female spirits within them, hence two-spirit. It originated at a 1990 conference for gay and lesbian Native people to replace the hurtful, derogatory, colonial term berdache (French for a “young male kept for gay sex”), used for gender-nonconforming individuals.
— Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko (@CLegutko) December 14, 2018
Two-spirit concept, however, is an ancient and traditional one in Native cultures, and not just a Native equivalent for queer or LGBTQ. It especially referred to birth-assigned men who took social identity and dress of women. It took diverse forms (and terms) within the hundreds of tribes across the Americas. Two-spirit identity frequently involved special work roles in society (e.g., weavers, healers, caretakers), sacred status, roles in ceremonies, same-sex relations, and cross-dressing.
Our Two-Spirit ancestors were targeted, beaten, raped, murdered because colonizers thought they were evil, sinful…..they were targeted because of the power they held within many of our communities as leaders, healers, warriors…
— Johnnie Jae aka The Brown Ball of Fury (@johnniejae) July 21, 2018
Historically, two-spirited people especially suffered under white colonization and the abusive American Indian boarding schools in the 19th-20th centuries, which made them choose a gender and its roles rather than live as a third gender.
Two-spirit has spread in the 2000s with growing visibility and inclusion of gender diversity in culture. The topic has been featured in several documentaries and films in the 2000–10s, including the 2018 Miseducation of Cameron Post, following a two-spirit person sent to conversion camp.
I'm really glad the miseducation of cameron post adressed two-spirit and lgbt+ native americans experience even if brief
— do evil better (@hecaete) November 10, 2018
However, some in mainstream culture have appropriated or misunderstood two-spirit outside of its complex and historic Native American cultural context. It’s important to note that while two-spirit is a term many Native persons use for all LGBTQ Native individuals, it’s not synonymous with LGBTQ.
Pop star Jason Mraz came under fire in July 2018 when he discussed his sexuality in terms of two-spirit, which he says his wife defined in terms of bisexuality. This was seen as a form of cultural appropriation.
Jason Mraz opens up about his sexuality to @billboard.
“I’ve had experiences with men, even while I was dating the woman who became my wife. It was like, ‘Wow, does that mean I am gay?’ And my wife laid it out for me. She calls it ‘two spirit’.” pic.twitter.com/ICOlmrQM1o
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) July 20, 2018
Okay but here is the thing Mraz, two spirit is a gender identity, not a sexuality. A Native American gender identity. It is not about sexual preference. It is about gender. This smacks an awful lot of cultural appropriation.
— Pearl (@archaeonerd91) July 20, 2018
How to use the term two-spirit
Two-spirit is used as a gender and social identity in Native American cultures.
“I Walk in the History Of My People” by Chrystos, two-spirit Native American (Menominee) queer activist+writer. Their work explores the intersections of queer and Indigenous identity, and social justice. Have a favorite QPOC creator? Let us know! 💌#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth pic.twitter.com/rsBOSJiPUq
— The Free Root Operation (@freerootop) November 27, 2018
While it can overlap with the western LGBTQ community, it takes diverse forms across tribes. As such, it is only properly understood in Indigenous contexts and used by Native persons.
— Jayde (@jaydefuller) November 23, 2018
Two-spirit is frequently used in discussions of the rights of Indigenous persons as it overlaps with the rights of gender-diverse people.
It was an honour to hear from women who are fighting to end violence against women, trans, two spirit and gender-diverse people. Thank you for your incredibly important work @MOSAICBC @EndingViolence @VSACentre @DisabAllianceBC @WestCoast_LEAF. #16days #EndGBV #MMIW pic.twitter.com/wXLZvURXvc
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) November 26, 2018
More examples of two-spirit:
“Not only did the Native-American population skyrocket in North America, but we’ve gone through a major shift in how Two Spirits are recognized and treated. . Today, dozens of Two Spirit organizations exist across the United States and Canada (North Valley Two Spirits, represent!). We have several of our own powwows, 501c3s and models that help sustain and preserve the Two Spirit way of life.”
—Samuel White Swan-Perkins, KQED, November 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use two-spirit in a sentence
Interesting that those who sat in judgment of him found those two sets of beliefs to be incompatible.
If anything the work the two cops and the maintenance guy were doing deserves more respect and probably helped a lot more people.
Toomey lives here with her husband, Mark, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, and their two daughters.How Taryn Toomey’s ‘The Class’ Became New York’s Latest Fitness Craze|Lizzie Crocker|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
But no more so than the Sodexo building maintenance man or the two cops who were also killed in the crossfire.
France 24's coverage of two developing hostage situations in Paris on Friday.
The case was an assault and battery that came off between two men named Brown and Henderson.
On the thirteenth of the same month they bound to the stake, in order to burn alive, a man who had two religious in his house.
The night wore on, and the clock downstairs was striking the hour of two when she suddenly awakened.The Homesteader|Oscar Micheaux
"The Smoker," and "Mother and Daughter," a triptych, are two of her principal pictures.Women in the fine arts, from the Seventh Century B.C. to the Twentieth Century A.D.|Clara Erskine Clement
The Spaniards captured two schooners, having on board 22 officers and 30 men, all of whom were hanged or sent to the mines.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell