The term “Two-Spirit” is a word that resists colonial definitions of who we are. It is an expression of our sexual and gender identities as sovereign from those of white GLBT movements. The coinage of the word was never meant to create a monolithic understanding of the array of Native traditions regarding what dominant European and Euroamerican traditions call “alternative” genders and sexualities…
I find myself using both the words “Queer” and “Trans” to try to translate my gendered and sexual realities for those not familiar with Native traditions, but at heart, if there is a term that could possibly describe me in English, I simply consider myself a Two-Spirit person. The process of translating Two-Spiritness with terms in white communities becomes very complex. I’m not necessarily “Queer” in Cherokee contexts, because differences are not seen in the same light as they are in Euroamerican contexts. I’m not necessarily “Transgender” in Cherokee contexts, because I’m simply the gender I am. I’m not necessarily “Gay,” because that word rests on the concept of men-loving-men, and ignores the complexity of my gender identity. It is only within the rigid gender regimes of white America that I become Trans or Queer. While homophobia, transphobia, and sexism are problems in Native communities, in many of our tribal realities these forms of oppression are the result of colonization and genocide that cannot accept women as leaders, or people with extra-ordinary genders and sexualities.3 As Native people, our erotic lives and identities have been colonized along with our homelands"
Qwo-Li Driskill, Stolen From Our Bodies: First Nations Two-Spirits/Queers and the Journey to a Sovereign Erotic (PDF)
ETA: I keep meaning to get around to writing something about how the way I perceive my gender changes depending on context. For now, let it suffice to say that it’s only when I’ve been immersed in the dominant culture—from elementary school, to now living in London—that other people have made me painfully aware that I just am not doing/being what they expect and insist on based on anatomy. In other contexts? I was vaguely aware that I just didn’t have an internal sense of gender that a lot of other people seemed to, but nobody even seemed to notice, much less attach weird significance to my gender presentation.
Coming to grips with multisexuality—even finding a reasonable non-binary term to describe it—has been a whole other story.
Today in Rachel’s inbox a message from Change.org !
[tw:rape, full term carryout]
I’ve been taught all my life to be afraid of rape. I’m Native American and live on a reservation in South Dakota —which means I have a 1 in 3 chance of being raped, according to studies. Of course, I don’t need a study to tell me that. I just have to look at all the women I know who are survivors.
To make matters worse, women on my reservation — and many Native women throughout America — do not have reliable access to emergency contraception, even though the law says we should.
That’s because Indian Health Services (which is part of the US government’s health department) is notoriously bad at distributing emergency contraception. I’ve heard horror stories myself, but a recent report confirmed the worst: some women have even been lectured about how being raped was their own fault before being turned away from IHS clinics.
One woman has the power to solve this problem: Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, the Director of Indian Health Services. I started a petition on Change.org asking Dr. Roubideaux to order Indian Health Service to make emergency contraception easily accessible to Native women. Click here to add your name.
The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 requires IHS to make emergency contraception available over the counter to any woman who is 17 or older, just like in the rest of the US. But a recent study shows that IHS is refusing to ask its distribution centers to comply with the law.
That report said that IHS tells Native women we need prescriptions to get emergency contraception (not true) or that we need to drive an hour each way to different clinics (impossible since most of us don’t have cars). Living in terror of rape is bad enough without also knowing that if we are raped, we may not have access to basic health care.
I know that if thousands of people sign my petition, Dr. Roubideaux will see that it’s not worth a public relations nightmare to deny Native women health care we’re required to have by law.
It was 1:30 p.m. April 19 when I received a frantic phone call from Colorado State Senator Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, who said she had less than 24 hours to resurrect the Recognition of the American Indian Genocide resolution of 2008.
By noon the next day, the original draft of the new 2012 American Indian Genocide resolution, SJR12-046, was dead on the senate floor, and what was left was a watered-down euphemism that still reeks of sugarcoating and naiveté.
What was contentious to the republican state senators was the use of the word “genocide.” The bevy of right-leaning Reagan fans had nothing but acrimonious things to say about American Indians, including myself, who assert that genocide was inflicted upon the first peoples of this continent.
And the most boisterous polemic of the bunch that day was republican State Senator Ellen Roberts of District 6.
Her argument, which she repeatedly reiterated at the podium, was that she didn’t feel the death of millions of American Indians since Columbus qualified as genocide because American Indians are not extinct.
“When I look up the word ‘exterminate’ it is to destroy totally,” she argued. “And my problem with this resolution is I thank God that we have not destroyed totally the Native American people. And one of my challenges … is (the) wording; that is as if they are extinct, because they are not.”
It is curious then that the day prior Roberts added her name as cosponsor to Senate Joint Resolution 32 – concerning the declaration of April 16 through 22, 2012, as Holocaust Awareness Week.
Today, Germany is home to more than 200,000 Jewish people.
Jews are not extinct.
Then, on the same day Sen. Roberts voted down the American Indian Genocide Resolution, she signed on as cosponsor to Senate Joint Resolution 33 – Concerning the Colorado Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
Today, the Armenian population in Armenia is more than 3 million.
Eo ipso, Armenians also are not extinct.
So, naturally, I’m prompted to wonder: How could Sen. Roberts, based on her logic, support two resolutions that recognize the genocide of both the Armenians and Jews when neither group has been expunged completely?
State Senator Ted Harvey of District 30 was the second loudest to object to the use of the word “genocide.” He asserted that it was a disservice to those “who have actually died at the hand of governments” and to those that were lined up “at mass grave sites,” and were shot and murdered.
Sen. Harvey either hasn’t heard of (or possibly rejects) the reality of the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 when more than 150 Lakota men, women and children were brutally murdered by the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment and dumped into a mass grave near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Which is it, Sen. Harvey?
Soon after Sen. Harvey ended his pejorative diatribe, Sen. Roberts introduced an amendment that changed the language of the resolution from “genocide” to “atrocity.”
The new resolution passed 24 to 9 with the replaced phrasing, “Concerning the Remembrance of the American Indian Atrocity.”
“It’s contradictory that (Sen. Roberts) supported the other resolutions but jumped all over ours,” said Tessa McLean, of the Ojibwe Nation and senior at the University of Colorado Denver who attended the floor hearing. “She was denying the genocide against our people. I felt very angry and upset.”
Amanda Williams, 18, of the San Carlos Apache and Navajo nations and a University of Denver student, later cried in the office of Sen. Williams and said she felt personally offended by the arrogance of the senate republicans and their inability to recognize the systematic murder of American Indian peoples.
“I felt that it was a slap in the face and a further attempt at erasing the truth of the history of the native peoples (of the Americas),” she said.
The only conclusion I can come to is that our senate republicans suffer from blind patriotism. You can’t be the greatest nation in the world if you admit to genocide, right? Apparently not.
Simon Moya-Smith is a journalist and blogger from Edgewater and a registered member of the Oglala Lakota Nation.
- White coworker: You're really good at this job but I gotta admit it still bothers me when people like you come to this country & take jobs from real Americans.
- Me: Where do you think I'm from?
- Coworker: I don't know what you are, but I know you're something. What are you?
- Me: Native American.
- Coworker: Oh... then I guess you didn't come here, huh?
- At work. Made me feel stunned, angry, hurt.
- GENOCIDE, people. Genocide.
- It's asshats like this one with all the "you people" & "real Americans" that keep racism & xenophobia in the top 10 list of fucked up conversations with white people.that might make you hurt someone.
Or how about this. I am really Native American. How do I know? I’ve always felt a special connection to animals, and started building tee pees in the backyard as soon as I was old enough. I insisted on wearing moccasins to school even though the other kids made fun of me and my parents punished me for it. I read everything I could on native people, started going to pow wows and sweat lodges as soon as I was old enough, and I knew that was the real me. And if you bio-Indians don’t accept us trans-Indians, then you are just as genocidal and oppressive as the Europeans.
Gender is no different. It is a class condition created by a brutal arrangement of power. I can’t fathom how mutilating people’s bodies to fit an oppressive power arrangement is frankly anything but a human rights violation. And men insisting that they are women is insulting and absurd."
This is why I can’t really take Derrick Jensen seriously (I see quotes of his randomly about tumblr), mostly because he hangs out with this fucktwat.
Yeah, I think Derrick Jensen has some important things to say in regards to how fucked up capitalism is and the nature of violence in our society, but he completely fails at so much. The fact that he can’t call out his friend on this really horrible bullshit (I have even personally emailed him about it with absolutely no response from him, yet all other emails I sent to him I received a response) tells me all I need to know. It sucks because his books did inform me of a lot of things, but now he’s just a big old disappointment.
WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?!
Keith is an old, transphobic, transmisogynistic radical feminist. That Jensen can’t at least say he doesn’t support her bullshit is ridiculous and shitty of him.