TWO SPIRITS

Two Spirits

The Native American concept of the two-spirited person was that there were people who were gifted and as such carried two spirits. These were of male and female thereby making them have their identities shifted from the conventional female or male.  This implied that such people would express more masculinity or femininity in certain environments as opposed to the norm. They also had the ability to see things beyond the conventional male or female person because they would have a deeper way that goes beyond one gender. Their understanding of issues was not based on a feminine or masculine perspective but rather a combination of both (Tafoya, 1997).

The two spirited role was perceived by Native Americans to be determined by a spiritual/social identity rather than by psychosexual identity or sexual orientation. This was due to an existence of a more fluid mannerism of conceptualizing gender relations along with sexual expression. Additionally, the two spirited persons would express extreme masculinity or femininity in certain environment regardless of their sexual gender (Tafoya, 1997).

However, this identity is very fluid in the sense that, even words to describe them did not exist in the native tribes. Similarly, it involved a manifestation of different genders rather than sexual orientation that further compounded the complexity about this cross-gender identity (Tafoya, 1997).

The term Berdache is considered derogatory by many Native Americans. According to Tafoya, (1997) the term reflects a male sexual slave in Persian term. Additionally, the term was used by the French around the 17th century to refer to those who engage in receptive anal intercourse.

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