UBC Graduate Research

Reclaiming the traditional role of Two-Spirited people in post-secondary and community education Plaut, Shayna; Kirk, David


Two-Spirited people, people who identify as mixed/ambiguous/plural gender, traditionally had a special, if not revered role in the social and cultural fabric of over 100 Indigenous nations in North America. The current prevalence of homophobia, including violent rejection and isolation from family and community found within Indigenous communities today, is a relatively new phenomenon. We argue this is a symptom of colonization and goes against traditional cultural norms of respect, if not cultivation, of difference in order to achieve balance. This notion of balance – a respect of difference -- is a fundamental part of Indigenous teachings and learning. This paper, builds upon academic, traditional and personal knowledge, to explore how such a drastic transformation took place across the continent in less than a century and how Indigenous communities can reclaim the traditional knowledge espoused by Two-Spirited people. Our goal, as community and post-secondary educators, is to provide a means of using traditional culture to help change imposed colonial cultural repression and shame.

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