Before I begin on Two Spirit, I feel it’s important for me to explain why I identify as Two Spirit and not Transgender. There are a number of reasons – firstly I’ve always been Two Spirit (Male and Female) and was born that way – simple as that. Secondly the term Transgender is made up of the words Trans and the word Gender defined individually as –
- Trans – Latin trans-, tra- across, beyond, through, so as to change, from trans across, beyond
- Gender – the behavioural, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex.
- Sex – the sum of the structural, functional, and behavioural characteristics of living things that are involved in reproduction by two interacting parents and that distinguish males and females
So when I try and apply the above Transgender definition to me, I struggle. I am not changing my internal gender because I have always seen myself as an ‘inbetweeny’. My behavioural and cultural traits have been manifest mainly as those associated with masculinity but only due to social pressures, not choice. Granted my reproductive capacity is that of a male but does that mean I identify as male? What really is gender anyway? So I simply don’t identify with the term Transgender, society at large and ‘the system’ may use this term but they dont truly work for me. To a greater or lesser extent its the very requirements prescribed by society to live within a gender binary that has caused some of my abject dysphoric pain and discomfort over the years.
In addition to the above I believe I have also, always felt that my psycho-biology is different and requires additional hormonal input to gain a sense of calm and happiness, to provide symptomatic relief from the gender dysphoria I suffer. This understanding is not only supported in part by research but my own pre-medicated feelings against my post medicated feelings. The difference is amazing.
So in short yes, by conventional definitions I can be labelled as Transgender, Intersex or Transexual – but I know I was born with equal proportions of male and female characteristics, with the brain chemistry that demands more Estrogen than my body can provide. Surely if people can be born with physical hermaphrodite attributes then people also be born with bio-psychological gender variances.
In addition to the above, the terms starting with Trans I feel carry a heavy stigma with them, their roots in the fetish/fanstasy world of Transvestism, along with a strange symbiotic relationship that the Trans world has with the LGB world. I am total acceptant of all peoples as long as they don’t harm others, but I cannot understand why in this day and age Gender is still linked with Sexuality and indeed why Gender hasn’t got a much more independent platform away from the Sexuality freedom fighters. Surely gender identity comes before sexuality – by nature? In my mind a child as young as 5 can suffer from gender congruence issues, that may in turn provide that child with what is seen as a sexuality described as homosexual. But surely it’s not until the child reaches an age where sex is important that their natural sexuality will be discovered. I myself am attracted to females irrespective of my gender identity – so what does that make me in the eyes of society at large? A natal male, who has a Two Spirit gender identity, presents more female and is attracted to only females? If nothing else I am sure many will agree its not exactly the easiest combination!
All this rich tapestry of understanding and feelings provide me with my own sense of Two Spirit, my Two Spirit identity is made up of many layers – but at the core I know who and what I am, no matter what ‘the system’ or society requests or demands. Everyone will have their own and everyone in their own right is a unique and special person – all with a right to express themselves in the way they feel most comfortable. Because not feeling comfortable in your own skin is I’m sure the worst form of incarceration anyone can suffer.
So that is why I define myself as Two Spirit as apposed to Transgender. So what’s you’re gender and why?
No matter – vive la difference as they say in France!
Peace, love and tranquillity
P.S – Please understand I have no issue what so ever with people who consider themselves ‘Trans’, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual or otherwise we are all entitled to label ourselves what we wish and live the lives we desire. I am all for freedom of expression, gender, sexuality and lifestyle as long as people aren’t being harmed.