Tag Archives: cultural heritage

Aboriginal Two-Spirit Traditions

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

mikmaq

A while ago, shortly after I started my journey of transition, I came across a couple of references to “Two-Spirit” people. These were people in Native American communities who roughly corresponded to what we now call transgender, but with one major difference:

The Two-Spirit person
“has nothing to do with being in the wrong body;
in fact, it is about being in the absolutely correct body:
one which is required to complete the kinship structure and
spiritual requirements of one’s community.
(
Holmes, 2004)

I didn’t really delve into the tradition too deeply, mainly because I had too many other pressing issues at the time. Besides, this was a Native American thing, and I wasn’t Native American, right?

So time went by, and I pretty much forgot about the whole thing.

Then I received some interesting family history from a distant cousin. I’ve been reuniting with my cousins on Facebook, and the more I connect with them, the more I learn about other distant relatives. The interesting information was not only that our family hails from Belfast, Ireland (I’ve known about the Irish connection for about 20 years, just not in detail), but that when my forebears settled in Newfoundland, there was also a certain amount of cross-cultural marriages with the local Canadian Aboriginals (First Nations). Specifically, I have just learned that along with the Irish connection, I also have Mi’kmaq blood coursing through my veins.

So for the past couple of days, I’ve been searching for whatever information I can find about the Mi’kmaq people—MY people. One source made reference to the Mi’kmaq Two-Spirit tradition. That, along with finding the quote above, has renewed my interest in that tradition.

I’ve never felt that the concept of a “woman born in the body of a man” applied to me; indeed, I’ve never felt as if I truly fit in any category. Oh, sure: I’m M2F transgender, but I’m married to another (cis) woman. So by one standard, that makes me a lesbian…except for all of the lesbians and TERFs (Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists) that don’t accept me as one of them, or all of the gay men who say that’s what I am, only I’m just confused.  And I won’t even go into all the homo- and trans-phobic religious types who consider me an abomination…just because I’m trying to be the way their God made me*.

So I’m going to get serious about researching not just my Mi’kmaq heritage, but also the Two-Spirit tradition. After all, even if it’s only a teensy, tiny bit, part of me is Native American.

And I’m going to start here.

 

 (*If you’re at all curious about my own religious beliefs, I’d have to say if I believe in any kind of creative force, I think if it as The Goddess.  I think it is far easier for a woman to worship a Goddess than a God. And if you’re really interested, I direct your attention to Merlin Stone’s seminal work, When God Was a Woman.)