Americans Traditionally Recognized Four Genders – Not Two

The Navajo, the second largest federally recognized tribe in the United States, have long recognized four genders. 

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Gender roles and sexual identity have been a controversial topic in America for centuries. Today, as society evolves, it is becoming more accepting of the fact that every person is different – that they do not fall into a certain box, whether it be race, gender or sexuality.

Unfortunately, the LGBT community – as well as other communities – still have a long fight ahead of them for complete acceptance and understanding within both government and society as a whole. Current political events are evidence of this ongoing struggle. However, while it may be hard to believe, it was not always like this in America.

The Navajo, the second largest federally recognized tribe in the United States, have long recognized four genders.  As well as acknowledging traditional, puritanical Eurocentric genders – male and female – the Navajo also accepted that some people identified with a gender that does not correspond with their birth sex. The Navajo called these people “nádleehí,” which means they embody both the male and female spirit – or “two-spirits.”

Instead of being ostracized, these people were revered. This historic lesson became the topic of a documentary called ‘Two-Spirits’ in 2009. The documentary follows the story of Fred Martinez, a 16-year-old Navajo boy who was bludgeoned to death with a rock in 2001 because he was nádleehí.

“The masculine and feminine are oftentimes reflected so completely in the body of one person, it’s as if they have two spirits,” Two-Spirit organizer Richard LaFortune said.

The hate crime took place in Colorado, where Martinez had gone to school. After being harassed for his ‘feminine manner’, he decided to continue his education by taking adult-education courses. Sadly, he was unable to escape the harassment and discrimination. He was chased into a rocky canyon just south of Cortez before being repeatedly beaten in the head with a rock by Shaun Murphy of Farmington.

“In Navajo teaching, in the old traditional world, there were four basic genders. Women are the first gender, because Navajo is a matrilineal society. Men are the second gender; and the third gender is the nádleehí, who is born as a male person but functions in the role of a girl in early childhood and in the role of a woman in adulthood. And it’s just the opposite for the fourth gender.” Thomas adds, “where they were born biologically female but functioned in the role of a boy in early childhood and matured into a man, and conducts their life in that gender identity.”

“In Western culture, when they say ‘a girl,’ there’s an automatic assumption that that girl is female. Or when they see a boy, they never pause to think that boy may be female,” Thomas points out.

Investigations revealed that Murphy’s actions were motivated, at least in part, by his hatred of Martinez’s sexuality. Murphy was arrested and charged with first and second-degree murder.

Unfortunately, Fred Martinez is not the only American to have been murdered because of his gender. In the first 60 days of 2017, there was a  total of seven reported killings of transgender women. As a result, 2017 is on track to be the most violent year on record for transgender people in the United States. Is it a coincidence that the number of hate crimes has increased since Trump’s inauguration?

While it is impossible to make that conclusion so early on in the year, the evidence suggests that minorities are at a greater risk of violence under the Trump administration. If so, this could be linked to Trump’s plans to scrap many of the LGBT rights gained under the Obama administration. Last week, for example, a motion was filed by the US Department of Justice that suggests that the Trump administration will scrap a rule that prohibits discrimination based on race, skin color, national origin sex, age, or disability in healthcare settings.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. It is not hate crime. It is disgust crime. Killing people because they engage in disgusting and unnatural practices. However it is still a crime and so must not go unpunished. Live and let live. Do not kill people because of their madness. Heir own madness will eventually kill them.

    • “Unnatural,” makes me laugh. In natured, bisexuality is the most prevalent. They will mate to breed is the option is available and safe, otherwise they will get off with who ever. Humans are animals just the same as the rest. In an age of overpopulation, it’s even more natural and reasonable for homosexual relations, to level the breed fields.

  2. The question that should be asked is… how come all of the sudden, the rainbow society gets a phenomenal world wide propaganda? Certainly not out of respect or to help them as in most countries homosexuality is accepted, transgender not so much but, like everything else, if not imposed on people’s faces, who has fun with who, is really business of no fkin one.
    If a person’s beliefs do turn into a reason to look down on people, what sort of fkin trash person is this? Who the fk has given this person the permission to think that it is better than others only because these others do not believe the same, let alone look the same? It is a quite pathetic childish and so unintelligent behaviour … today especially.
    One does not need a fkin uni degree to see that all of us shit, sleep and eat all the same and that stupid religions got introduced to create frictions among societies. We are all born different from one an other for a fkin good and simple reason. If one today still can’t see it… well destined to be a citizen of fifth class… the pawn with low intellectual capacity, the new world prefers when in need of idiots to spread their lurid destructive propaganda.
    Hold your judging. Personally, I have fair few friends who are homosexual and transgenders … nothing wrong with them of course. So when this idiotic world wide rainbow propaganda started, of course I was in favour. But when I noticed that there is so much more involved in this propaganda, like targeting boys as young as 8, and considering that in his country, same sex marriage law to pass, isn’t at all a necessity neither socially nor legally due to de facto relationship criteria…. My vote ended up to be a huge fkin massive NO. As many homosexuals transgenders & co did vote too by the way.
    So to go back to the question that should be asked …. This fkin propaganda is all about using methods to reduce world population there and then and very legally too …. no kids to be born from them, is it so not?? The comment…. woooo thanks god for that… unfortunately for the rest of the world, people that makes such demented comments, do procreate still which means 2 more idiots on the face of the planet… and at a snap of a broken water too. Mentality not fit to be a fkin example for no one, let alone kids. As parents that impose their credos to their kids, it is just a breach of their human’s rights there and then.
    As mentioned before, if beliefs are used to give a person the permission to shit on others…. what sort of fkin human is it? Just and only the usual genetic defected trash. Which by now should be on the decline, not on the rise.
    It is important to learn to look at things from many points of view… not only because most of things are just a fkin brainwashing tool, but also cause usually hides a much deeper reason. On top of it, yapped opinions based only on personal likes and dislikes…. especially on this of subject, it is a dead sad waste of oxygen, and one more gained point for that fkin new world order terrorists. No more no less.
    Time to step up to your game as human being. Learn to think with your own fkin brains and educate yourselves as people with some education are lesser prone to use violence to solve problems.
    Just thing this… if tomorrow everybody wakes up blind, what the fk you reck is going to happen? … Exactly so next time before badmouthing whoever for whatever reason, like a spoilt demented child, even worse using religion to support your stupid credos, you better count till ten first.
    Internet got introduced for one fkin reason and one only. Certainly not to shit on your brains with idiotic social media.

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