By Kellie Hwang
One is white with turquoise embroidery, and the other is a sunny yellow. Both are made of soft deerskin, embellished with silver ornaments and finished with long, meticulously cut tassels.
These dresses are meaningful to the 30-year-old member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Not only did she make them, but she wore them when she won the 2007 Miss Indian Transgender Arizona Pageant, a title she has held for two years.
"The pageant is to help engage Native American transgendered individuals in the importance of traditional values and provide role models within the Native American GLBT community," said Jackson, who is Navajo and works as a health educator in the Valley.
The pageant is part of a tradition of many North American tribes respecting GLBT members, often called "two spirits." For more than two decades, there have been two-spirit gatherings throughout Canada and America. Those with two spirits were, and in some communities still are, seen as having a special understanding of what it's like to live as a man and a woman.
Below: "Ricki Quintero of Mesa was crowned Miss Indian Transgender Arizona in 2007."