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Two Spirit Rising: Culture, Spirit, and Gender

by Chris Paige


In "Two Spirit Rising" for the Dallas Voice, David Taffet reports on the development of Two Spirit Societies in Texas, beginning with a Dallas chapter.

The Texas chapters began after two Dallas natives attended the National Confederation of Two Spirit Organizations gathering in Tulsa in 2012 and were inspired to begin a chapter in Dallas. The Dallas, Panhandle, and South Texas now number 150 members.

The article points up some of the ways the modern term, Two Spirit, transcends or displaces the Western categorization of "Native American LGBT people."

Taffet reports,

Peterson and Layton identify as “two spirit,†an Indian term to describe those who have both the spirit of a man and the spirit of a woman. In many tribes, the term encompasses those who are gay, lesbian or bisexual, as well as those who are transgender. But rather than focus on sexuality, Indians focus on spirituality. Since two spirit people were considered doubly blessed, they were often the shamans, teachers and spiritual leaders.

While the article doesn't specifically make Native American transgender experience visible, this shift from sexuality to spirituality, from orientation to gender is significant. Two Spirit identities are inseparable from traditional Native cultures.

The article goes on to trace tensions between life on and off the reservation, as well as traditional practices versus Christian influences.

The Texas Two Spirit Society is part of a growing movement of regional Two Spirit Societies growing across the United States.

Read the full article in the Dallas Voice: "Two Spirit Rising" by David Taffet


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