Reimagining Two-Spirit Community: Critically Centering Narratives of Urban Two-Spirit Youth
Wesley, Dana L.
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Since its inception in the early 1990s, Two-Spirit has become an identity category that many Indigenous LGBTQ people have taken up as a way to signal both their Indigeneity and their queerness. In the emerging field of Queer Indigenous Studies, Two-Spirit people have become increasingly visible, however, the engagement with youth has been limited and largely confined to the social service sector. Stepping outside of these narrow confines, my research has sought to document how Two-Spirit youth envision their day-to-day lives in relation to their communities. Using an Indigenous methodology to guide the research, I conducted sharing circles in conjunction with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network in order to engage Two-Spirit youth living in Toronto. The sharing circles revealed the limits of Two-Spirit youth’s connections to the idea of Two-Spirit community. Two-Spirit youth called for an end to homophobia and transphobia within their Indigenous communities and expressed their desire to directly participate in nation-building activities as guided by their communities’ elders. The thesis analyzes the ways that Two-Spirit identity gets used in both oppressive and decolonial ways in the context of non-profit and Two-Spirit organizations to show how cultures are built around Two-Spirit identity. However, Two-Spirit youth resist narratives of victimhood created through racist ideas about Indigenous people in their stories as they search for spaces that open up dialogue about the radical ways in which Two-Spirit people can manifest their own futures rooted in Indigenous principles.