Western culture keeps a steady focus on the gender binary. There is man and woman, with little room for variation in between. For trans people, this is particularly challenging. How do we break from the restrictions of the gender binary? We can start by looking at other cultures and how they treat gender variance. This episode of Translation looks at one such cultural example: two-spirit, a Native American concept of third gender. Two-spirit is not equivalent of transgender, but rather a spiritual role that accesses the depths of both the male and female experience.
The episode begins by looking where two-spirit comes from. Even though the name itself is relatively new, the concept has been around for a long time and across many tribes in North America. We then explore the qualities of two-spirit. It is not a simple concept, as it has its own variations throughout different peoples. Since two-spirit is considered a third gender, we take a look at how two-spirit relates to sexual orientation. We then explore how two-spirit is treated in the modern world. It is still very much an important part of Native American culture, and has seen a resurgence in the past 30 years. Finally, we explore why it is important that the term two-spirit is reserved for Native Americans. Western culture has taken a lot from Native tribes, and we have many words to describe similar ideas. We don't need another one, especially one that is important on a cultural and racial level.
Trigger warning: This podcast contains discussions of transphobia and race.
Here are some resources and references:
Missed In History episode: http://www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts/the-comptons-cafeteria-riot/
Paved With Good Intentions: https://pavedwithgoodintentions.simplecast.fm/