Melissa Vital ('23)


According to Native American culture, two-spirit individuals are male, female, and intersex people who have both traditionally male and female traits. These individuals are not labeled as men or women, as they have a separate gender status.

Two-spirit can be used to describe a person identifying as having a masculine and a feminine spirit. Today, two-spirit is widely used when referring to same-sex attraction and other gender variances. These include gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, cross-dressers, or multiple-gender identified individuals in the Native American community.

Two-spirit can also be used to describe poly relationships, as Elder Myra Laramee proposed its use at the 1990 Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference in Winnipeg. The term was a translation of the Anishinaabemowin phrase niizh manidoowag, meaning two spirits.

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