You’ve probably heard the term Two-Spirit before. A workshop I attended yesterday helped me to understand it better and I learned it had first been used by a woman from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
According to TransCare British Columbia a provincial health care authority, Two-Spirit is a term used in some Indigenous communities to reflect understandings of gender roles and gender and sexual identities in their culture. The term has spiritual connections as well.
It is important to remember that terms and roles and understandings about Two-Spirit people are specific to individual Indigenous nations.
Before colonization, Two-Spirit people were included and respected as valued members of many Indigenous communities and often took on important roles as healers, matchmakers, ceremonial leaders, and counsellors.
The erasure of Two-Spirit people was part and parcel of the religious and value belief systems brought by the colonizers who condemned any kind of gender or sexual diversity. This led to homophobia and transphobia in many Indigenous groups which often forced Two-Spirit people to leave their home communities which meant they left their families, land and culture as well.
Increasingly the role of Two-Spirit people in Indigenous communities is being recognized and reclaimed.
The term Two-Spirit was created in 1990 at an international Indigenous gathering for gay and lesbian individuals. It was held in Winnipeg.
The speakers at the workshop I attended yesterday told us the designation Two-Spirit was proposed by Myra Laramee an Anishinaabe woman who said the name came to her in a dream. Myra is currently teaching at the University of Winnipeg.
Often letter designations for inclusive recognition of gender and sexual minorities like 2SLGBTQIA+ begin with 2S. The 2S stands for Two-Spirit.
Now I have a better understanding of what those letters mean and why they are important.
A Rollicking Read and a Rollicking Interview