The 2 in LGBTT2QIA comes from my Native and First Nations brothers and sisters. It stands for Two-Spirited. There has been quite a bit of confusion lately on what two-spirited actually means, and I hope I can help clear the water vs further muddying it.
I know quite a few Native and First Nations individuals who identify somewhere on the sexual minority, gender variant spectrum, but that does not make them all two-spirited. However, all two-spirited individuals, are by nature of the word itself, Native and First Nations. Not all birds are Eagles, but all Eagles are birds. Clear so far?
Even within some of our local First Nations communities, the idea of an individual being of two spirits has become muddied. It has been used by so many as a blanket term for all First Nations individuals who identify as being part of the acronym community that it is losing some of it’s power and intent.
When asked to share his personal thoughts on the term, Ryan Jimmy (a wonderful individual I am blessed to know) said this:
I understand how the term is a way for indigenous queers to reclaim their sexual spaces rather then have other non indigenous folks create identities for them. What I struggle with is that there still seems to be a lot of romanticism around the term meaning that people tend to believe the term is a simple male\female spirit and that we poses some super neat powers. I feel the term is very complex and I personally just haven’t found my place with …it.
Amongst all those I know who identify as both First Nations (or Indigenous) and a member of the acronym community, I only know one individual who identifies as two-spirited. And that’s an important thing to note. As Ryan mentioned, there is this romanticized view of two-spirited individuals which has found it’s way into modern culture. And while the idea of one person with two spirits (each of a different gender inhabiting the same body) does have aspects which lend itself easily to those types of ideals and fantasies, those notions ignore the hard struggles that have faced our Native and First Nations community members. While there may have been a time when two-spirited people were revered in some First Nations cultures, that vanished along with so many facets of their culture with the unfortunate Christianization of their world.
Clearly, this is far too large a topic to really get into in any real way in a blog post. But, if nothing else, I hope this brief look at what “two-spirited” means encourages you to dig a little deeper yourself. It’s an absolutely amazing area for study, and filled with a wealth of enlightenment. In a search to understand ourselves, it is one area that should not be overlooked.
One last, rather unique tid-bit I’ll share: Have you ever looked at your hands, at the length of your fingers in particular? Well, there have been numerous studies over the last couple hundred years that reflect a hormone correlation which suggests Women have a longer index finger, and Men have a longer ring finger. The one individual I know who identifies as two-spirited? Has a longer index finger on one hand, and a longer ring finger on the other. Just one of their many intriguing qualities.