June Community Cinema film: ‘Two Spirits'
By Paula Struckman
This is the story of Fred, a Navajo boy who was also a girl. In the Navajo world, there are four genders: male, female, male/female or female/male.
“Whatever the gender, that is who you are, that is what you were born into.” Many Native American cultures, like the Navajo, honored people of integrated genders. According to ancient Navajo tradition, integrated gender is a special gift, a Power, given by the holy people and honored by the tribe. These honored individuals were considered caretakers of society. By being allowed to participate in society, it was felt they might have helpful insights and lead society in new directions.
Pauline Mitchell, Fred's mother, wanted her son to be a boy. When he was young, Fred wore cowboy hats, followed his dad around and wanted to be like his dad. However, as Fred grew older, he started using make-up, fixing his hair and wearing a bra to look beautiful. One evening Fred held a family conference and announced he wanted to be a girl. His brother made one comment, “Be careful.”
Pauline accepted Fred's decision and told the priest that it was time to prepare a celebration feast immediately—a concept not embraced by the priest and his Christian morals.
If everyone could journey into the Navajo world and share the view of a two-spirited person, the world would be a more tolerant place. Take this journey and view “Two Spirits.”
For more on the subject, see Two Spirits Documentary on PBS and Two Spirits Documentary Reviewed.