Two-Spirit People

Two-spirit (sometimes two-spirited) is a term used by Indigenous people in North America to describe individuals who combine masculine and feminine. The term harkens back to honored cultural roles for gender minority people in Indigenous nations across Turtle Island (North America) prior to the 1930s. This entry begins with an overview of the origins of the term two-spirit; discusses how the identity relates to earlier terms; briefly details the role of colonial schools in the eradication of Indigenous gender roles; identifies benefits, limitations, and cautions to consider when using the term two-spirit; and concludes with a discussion of the term’s recent use.

Origins of the Term

The term two-spirit rose to prominence in the 1990s, and some trace its origin to a dream reported by Elder Myra ...

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