Are you Two-Spirited?

If this is the first time you have come across the term “Two-Spirit,” you may be in for a surprise!

My sources of information on this subject are limited, as books are not in abundance and literature probably wasn’t much encouraged on the subject. My account of their lives and roles within their communities only scratches the surface in bringing their existence to light.

The term Two-Spirit is a fairly modern creation from 1990, describing a person who embodies their own spirit as male or female, plus a spirit of the opposite sex—within a society that accepted gender fluidity with individuals being valued more for their contribution to the community. It can also be described as creating four genders — male, female, male two-spirit and female two-spirit; each living freely, able to choose how they dressed and lived their lives. The earliest form of LBGT perhaps?

En Femme Style

While there were signs of similar spiritual communities across the world that also accepted sexual fluidity, it is more commonly known within the history of American Indians; documented as far back as the 1500s, around the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the period of the Aztecs. Unsurprisingly, the Spaniards disapproved of them, calling them sodomites. The Spaniards destroyed most of them in an attempt to eradicate ancient beliefs and exterminate them.

From a book published in 1722, it notes that many, if not all tribes had been influenced by European homophobia/transphobia. The theme continued, and later in history when Europeans Government officials arrived on the continent, their gender roles were forced upon them making them conform and giving up their own way of life!

Religion has a history of the condemnation of anyone who did not accept the rules imposed upon them, and to be seen as sinners, something that history shows being perpetuated to present day.   Two-spirit people held respected positions in their communities, such as; medicine men/women, shamans, visionaries, mystics, conjurers, keepers of tribe traditions and more. Being seen as a threat by European religions, they were condemned to surrender their own values and beliefs in exchange for compromise, not of the same value as their own.

For centuries, diversity and non-conformity have not been welcomed within society around the world and has so markedly shown, punished those who dared to challenge it.

Are we seeing a new awakening?

Not only on a two-spirit level, but for all humanity! There have been many belief systems, which have continued to be rejected for a long list of reasons by those who refuse to submit to them. The systems I refer to are not only religious, but political and socio-economic as well. Communism, capitalism and generally all other systems of control and oppression are been seen for what they are; none of them working well or without corruption or having a bias in favor of the wealthy. People are waking up on a wide spectrum of issues, one in which I hope stems from a spiritually based connection. If previous beliefs have failed our expectations on a global scale, where do can we go from there?

‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’
John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton. 1834–1902

Can we overcome the barriers that have kept us apart for centuries, preventing us from uniting as people of this planet and caring for each other and the world we live upon? If it is possible at all, it will take something very significant to bring it about, to break down traditions and structures designed and constructed to keep us where we have been for an eternity. Why should it have been like that at any time in history?

We are on the cusp of a high-tech, AI, robotic, automated, higher level of control-based existence of humankind; we need to be prudent, observant, and united.

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Born in London, England and a life long journey incorporating two marriages and a long relationship that eventually brought me to France. My two children and all of my family are fine with my choice to finally be the person I have always been. I am a creative, artistic soul who loves good food,cooking and real friends. Will I ever fall in love, will someone fall in love with me and does it matter? I have the love of my family and some very good friends in my life

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1 year ago

I recall either in “Lame Deer Seeker of Visions” or in “Black Elk Speaks” the mention of the Heyoka. In one of those books, if I recall correctly, the Heyoka appears as opposites and can merge between genders. I remember being very excited when reading about the Heyoka and realizing that not only was there something potentially akin to transgender in other cultures, but they were celebrated and admired as members of their community. Thanks for writing about this to spark my memory. I think I’ll research a little more into this. Are you familiar with the/a Heyoka?

1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

Shannon, I believe the Black Elk uses the term Heyoka referring to individuals that engage in behaviors that intentionally trouble norms and might be analogous to a clown in western culture. Winkte is an abbreviated Lakota word that refers to individuals born as male that occupy women’s roles and may wear women’s clothes. The reclaiming of third and fourth genders among indigenous two spirited is inspiring to me. It seems to be the case–research and tribal stories suggest–that many, perhaps most, of the tribes in North America had names and room for individuals that crossed the boundaries of western notions… Read more »

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