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Diversity of sexual orientation appears to be universal throughout human history. This article explores gender and sexual diversity of non Aboriginal and traditional First Nations groups in North America, and the reclamation of traditional roles and identities by contemporary two spirits. This article argues that social workers, as well as various other human service professionals stand to improve the quality of their practice by seeking deeper understanding of sexual and gender diversity through exploration of historic First Nation traditions of two spirit roles as well as the intersecting multiple oppressions impacting two spirits in urban, rural and reserve locations.This article explores the history of gender and sexual diversity of western non Aboriginal cultures and traditional First Nations groups in North America, and in the latter case, the reclamation of traditional roles and identities by contemporary two spirit persons. A case is presented for the benefits of social workers, as well as various other human service professionals of gaining a deeper understanding of sexual diversity and oppression by exploring historic First Nation traditions of two spirits, as well as contemporary two spirit realities of intersecting oppressions in urban, rural and reserve locations. Though the title of social worker is reserved for individuals registered with their respective professional body, the information provided is intended for a broad range of human service providers. The intention of this article is to increase and improve understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) people, the history of derogatory terms used against LGBTQ people, the history of berdache [sic], historic two spirit roles, the experience of contemporary two spirits and implications for social work practice.Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual History and DefinitionsIt is important to define the myriad of terms relating to sexual and gender diversity. On the most basic level of understanding, refers only to primary reproductive body parts while refers to constructed social roles and identities in which sex is one defining element whose importance varies (Roscoe, 1998, p. 17). He originally used the term to describe people who we now may consider transgendered, or those who cross conventional gender roles (Katz, as cited in Todd, 2005). Perpetuated by Freudian theories, by the 1950s homosexuality was considered a disorder caused by an individual psycho social environment a deviation from the heterosexual norm (Todd, 2005, p. 276). For many, many years, individuals who believed that they were homosexual followed the hegemonic views of the heterosexual world and went to great lengths to cure themselves of the (Kupper, 1998). It was not until 1973, as a result of the gay and lesbian liberation movement which fought for human rights, was the term removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (Todd, 2005). Despite its removal from the DSM over thirty years ago, the term continues to be stigmatized and to some extent carry overtones of a pathological disorder.World War II was an important time in the emergence of gay communities and the need for LGBTQ human rights. Gays and lesbians imprisoned by Nazis were identified by an arm band with a pink or black inverted triangle badge. Jewish prisoners, identified by the Star of David, who were also gay or lesbian, were further degraded by having a pink triangle superimposed over the star. In WWII allied forces rescued most of those in the concentrations camps, gays were left behind with the continued imprisonment by the forces (Friedman, 1997, p. xv).As a result of the labour shortage during the war, lesbians and feminists in Canada and the United States lobbied for the right to work as equals with men in the paid labour force. With the end of WWII and the return of many men to the workforce, the climate for women in paid labour soured as women were pressured to return to traditional unpaid homemaker roles (Kupper, 1998). Over half a century later, there remains a need for equal pay and equal employment policies for women in the paid and arguably, unpaid work forces. In Canada women continue to be underpaid and undervalued despite employment equity legislation introduced in the 1980s (Hick, 2005). Women are not the only group facing discrimination in the workplace as LGBTQ and Aboriginal people are also treated inequitably. Todd (2005) highlights the fact that people rarely, if ever, lose jobs, promotions, political positions or social status because they are straight (p. 273). Aboriginal people also experience much higher rates of poverty and unemployment than non Aboriginal people. Of urban Aboriginal populations, 50.4% live below the Low Income Cut Off (LICO), as compared to 21.2% of urban non Aboriginal people (Hick, 2005, p. 198). An important reality for Saskatchewan social workers to keep in mind is that the poorest Aboriginal people in Canada are located in Saskatoon, with 63.7% living below the LICO (Lee, as cited in Hick, 2005). Dominant patriarchal, heteronormative, Christian beliefs and both overt and covert homophobia in our society, create toxic environments for LGBTQ people. For individuals who identify as female and minority in terms of sexuality, culture, spirituality and/or race, daily life can be a struggle.Beyond same sex orientation identities, there also exists an area of sexual and gender diversity where individuals find themselves attracted to both sexes and may identify as bisexual. Separate from bisexual, gay, or lesbian identities are those who see themselves as transsexual or transgendered. Transsexuals are individuals who feel that their gender identity does not match their sexual anatomy. It is important to note that still considers transsexualism a mental illness, which requires treatment (Todd, 2005, p. 281). The term transgender is of people who identify as bigender, gender benders, gender outlaws, cross dressers, drag queens, drag kings, transvestites and transsexuals (Todd, 2005, p. 281). Todd (2005) explains that intersexuals individuals whose external sex (genitalia) are indeterminant, people who appear to be male but are medically/biologically female and vice versa (p. 281). None of the aforementioned labels are to be used lightly as they can create confusion and potentially severe negative implications for the South African athlete Caster Semenya knows this all to well after being accused of being intersexed following a gold medal win in the women 800 meters at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin (CNN, 2009).The commonly used acronym is not inclusive to all diversity groups. In an effort to be more inclusive of gender and sexual diversity it may be expanded to LGBTQ, GLBTQ, LGBTTQ, LGBTTIQ, etc. Though more specific in its inclusion, the ever elongating acronym for gender and sexual diversity in not always practical. Individuals who identify as intersexual, asexual, cross dressing, or ascribe to no label of sexual or gender orientation may feel excluded by these acronyms. A term recently back by North American LGBTQ individuals and communities is which was historically used as a derogatory slur against LGBT people. The popularity and growing use of the word comes from its ability to be inclusive of all gender and sexual diversity. Disempowering derogatory terms by legitimizing the context within oppressed groups is a powerful strategy. also facilitates simplification of the ever growing, exclusive and sometimes confusing acronyms used to describe a wide range of gender and sexual diversity. The use of LGBTQ and the term queer, in this paper is intended to be inclusive of individual diversity regardless of personal gender or sexual ascription. The contemporary term two spirit, which will be discussed in more detail later, shares with the term a quality of inclusivity. Although sometimes represented as 2S, in this paper the term two spirit is represented by the letter as in the acronym LGBTTQ. The term two spirit includes males, females and intersexed individuals, and an entire spectrum of gender and sexual diversity, while simultaneously connecting these identities with Aboriginal culture and spirituality (Roscoe, 1998).For practicing social workers, it is important to gain a clear understanding of these terms and definitions when working with queer individuals, families and groups to extend support. Value 2, the pursuit of social justice found in the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) Code of Ethics 2005, supports the idea of social workers becoming LGBTTQ, or simply queer allies. It states that, workers oppose prejudice and discrimination against any person or group of persons, on any grounds, and specifically challenge views and actions that stereotype particular persons or groups (CASW, 2005, p. 5).Beliefs such as universal heterosexuality, sex for the exclusive purpose of reproduction and the immorality of homosexuality are often rooted in religious belief systems. For example, I was raised in as a Roman Catholic and attended public school in a small rural town in Saskatchewan. It was no secret that being gay or lesbian was not acceptable. By age thirteen I began praying at night that God would not make me a lesbian when I grew up; anything but that! Stifling my same sex attractions, which at the time I only recognized as feeling different, I began to punish myself and numb feelings via self harm and binge drinking. Teasing and bullying about my tom boyish ways throughout elementary and junior high school had left me with poor self esteem and strong fears of being different. By age fifteen, I began searching the Bible for passages to support the dogma that homosexuality was wrong. I realize now this was an attempt to intellectualize,
the north face 3in1 jacket Exploring the History of Aboriginal Gender and Sexual Diversity
stifle and punish myself. By age seventeen my personal Bible that I received at my first communion was book marked and highlighted of all things related to alcohol, drugs, pre marital sex and homosexuality: all issues I was struggling with. 100). This dogma is exploited by some people as justification to use terms such as faggot, dyke and gay in derogatory ways to hurt and bully others perceived to be LGBTTQ. Though at the time I did not fully understand these terms, deep in my psyche the fear was planted and the toxicity of internalized homophobia took root in me.Terms such as faggot, dyke and gay continue to be used in hurtful and hateful ways in our schools, homes and workplaces. It is important to learn and understand the roots of these words, as well as the physical, mental and emotional harm they can cause. Dorais (2004, as cited in Todd, 2005) finds that average gay adolescents and young men are six to 16 times more at risk for attempting suicide (p. 285). It is important to understand that the reasons for queer individuals self hate, self harm, or suicide is not because of being queer, but rather the result of living in socially toxic and homophobic environments. In a Proctor and Groze study (as cited in Banks, 2003) 66% of LGB youth with a mean age 18.5 years in the United States and Canada had attempted suicide. Though the Proctor and Groze study does not identify cultural or racial minorities, it has become too common to hear of Aboriginal youth committing suicide, with LGBTTQ Aboriginal youth topping the list. Social workers and human service workers must strive to change the climate of institutionalized heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia, into atmospheres of trust, safety and inclusivity in order to support queer youth and adults in continuing to live and love themselves.The terms or and have become some of the most commonly used derogatory slurs against gay men and lesbians in Canada and the United States. In many dictionaries the word may appear harmless referring to a bundle of sticks, herbs, or metal rods tied together. Heretics, those individuals believed to challenge the dogmas of the Catholic Church via their sexuality or lifestyle, were forced to carry the faggot to the fire being built for their execution. The frequent use of faggot, fag, or gay as an insult is doubt [derived] from the belief among some straight men that the greatest possible humiliation is to be identified as gay. Understanding the history of violence and oppression in the etymology of these terms can help social workers to work more compassionately with LGBTTQ people in order to the right of every person to be free from violence and threat of violence (CASW, 2005, p. 4).Colonial to Contemporary Aboriginal Sexual and Gender DiversityPre European contact, alternative gender roles and identities were respected and honoured in First Nations groups throughout North America where all people were believed to be part of the sacred web of life and society (Brown, 1997). Unfamiliar to European concepts of sex and gender roles, many Indian groups have at least six alternative gender styles: women and men, not men (biological women who assume some aspects of male roles) and not women (biological men who assume some aspects of female roles), lesbians and gays (Brown, 1997, p.6). Roscoe (1998) discusses the gender category referring to male and sometimes female two spirits, and the gender category specific to female two spirits. Terms such as man woman and woman man were also used to describe males and females, who acted and filled roles and identities of the opposite gender (Lang, 1998). The existence of terms to describe multiple genders in North American Indigenous groups supports the of social constructionism, which maintains that gender roles, sexualities, and identities are not natural, essential or universal, but constructed by social processes and discourses (Roscoe, 1998, p. 5). It is difficult to argue universal heterosexuality to an entire continent of people who thrived in gender and sexually diverse societies for thousands of years.Most First Nation tribes and bands had their own term(s) to describe roles of individuals who today may identify as LGBTQ or two spirit (Roscoe, 1998). 214 222). These terms having been compiled by non Aboriginal explorers, anthropologists and historians are subject to error and misinterpretation. I inquired about the Cree two spirit terms ayekkwe, a:yahkwew with a two spirit woman, knowledgeable both in academia as well as the Cree language, and found the translation to be inaccurate. The literal translations simply do not make sense in the context of identifying two spirits. Also neither ayekkwe or a:yahkwew appear to translate into testicles as Roscoe (1998) suggests. A. Wilson (personal communications, May 28, 2009) believes that these terms were most likely a specific two spirit person name within a particular group. Rice (2005) suggests that the Cree term for traditional male two spirits is, (p. 70). Given that there are three dialects of Cree, and that it is not traditionally a written language, spelling, pronunciation and the term itself are subject to variation. Kinship is very important in Cree and other First Nation groups. It is a sign of respect to address a relative using terms such as: mother (Kikawi), father (Kotawi), grandma (kookum), grandpa (Kimosoom), brother (nustees), sister (nemiss), etc. (A. Wilson, personal communications, June 14, 2009). European colonizers unfamiliar with the practice of kinships terms, or the use of spirit names, could have easily mistaken words such as ayekkwe or a:yahkwew as lingual groups terms used to describe two spirits.Aside from anthropological misinterpretation of names and relationships between two spirits and kin, the inaccurate use of terms such as hermaphrodite, and the inconsistent spelling and inaccurate use of [sic] (explained later), created a somewhat fictional history of Indigenous groups in North America. Contemporary Aboriginal scholars continue to correct misinterpretations and inaccurate records of events, as well as work to restore the importance of traditional female roles in First Nation cultures. Erroneous documentation by anthropologists, explorers and historians resulted from their non Aboriginal paradigms of thought, without consideration or understanding of Indigenous worldviews. This Eurocentric view was comprised of European superiority, patriarchal values and Christian morals and ethics. Many of the early colonizers to North America were clergy. For these religious leaders it was deemed a charitable act to save the souls of First Nations people for whom they feared would be damned by their diverse sexual and other practices (Brown, 1997). Spanish explorer, Vasco Nunez de Bulboa, while in Panama met forty homosexuals dressed as women and had them put to the dogs (Roscoe, 1998). Some hundred years later his actions were praised by a historian who stated, fine action of an honourable and Catholic Spaniard (Roscoe, 1998, p. 4).The Discontinued Use of BerdacheTerms used by anthropologists and researchers to describe LGBTTQ Aboriginal people, have ranged from hermaphrodite, sodomite, berdache [sic], not men, not women, third and fourth genders, and a range of tribal and band specific terms. In earlier Euro colonial documentation, the most commonly used term to describe sexual and gender diverse Indigenous people was [sic] or some variation of this term. The word is a derivative of the Persian word referring to boys or prostitutes (Roscoe, 1998). Viewed by many two spirits as derogatory, in 1993 a group of anthropologists and First Nations people issued guidelines to formalize the preference of rather than berdache (Roscoe, 1998). Scholars were also to use tribally specific terms for multiple genders or the term (Roscoe, 1998, p. 17). For the purposes of this article, I have employed the term in reference to contemporary, and in many cases to historic two spirit or Aboriginal LGBTQ people. The Euro colonial term berdache [sic], I use with when referencing Euro colonial historic documentation of two spirits. As encouraged above, when possible the use of specific tribal lingual terms such as winkte of the Lakota, cote of the Crow and lhamana of the Zuni are best used as they are specific to bands or tribes. Unfortunately with the use of specific lingual group terms for two spirits, there is difficulty in establishing accuracy. As discussed earlier, this is potentially the case with Roscoe (1998) use of the thought to be two spirit Cree words, ayekkwe and a:yahkwew. When a tribal lingual term is accurate and accepted as describing a traditional two spirit, this term should be encouraged as pan historical and capable of building strong cultural identities for contemporary two spirits.In contrast to the many anthropologists who agreed to discontinue the use of berdache [sic], Roscoe (1998) defends its use, arguing that the term is not Western, but rather Persian and therefore Eastern in origin. He further states that berdache [sic] is no more derogatory beyond the extent all terms for nonmarital sexuality in European societies carried a measure of condemnation (Roscoe, 1998, p. 17). I believe that is not a light word in terms of meaning or how people associated with it are treated. Further, arguing that a word is rather than in origin does not make it any less derogatory or colonial. Roscoe (1998) also believes that berdache [sic] was used with the force of but more often as a euphemism for or (p. 17). Despite Roscoe arguments, I align with the term based on the 1993 agreement by anthropologists to stop using [sic] in academic writing, and that the latter is offensive. As a Euro colonial term imposed on LGBTQ Aboriginal people, whether rooted in the east or the west, berdache [sic] is not an Aboriginal word and, therefore I believe to use it is to perpetuate colonial oppression.Traditional Two spirit History and RolesIt is important to note that historically the two spirit role not made on the basis of one choice of sexual partners,
the north face 3in1 jacket Exploring the History of Aboriginal Gender and Sexual Diversity
but rather on the basis

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