Family can be one of the biggest joys in a person’s life.
It can be comforting to know you have someone who has your back, and that you can be there for someone else. For Two-Spirits, that feeling is more often replaced with loneliness. Because of this, we seek family outside of blood relations. I have felt that loneliness, that desire for family that accepts you completely, that need for family outside of blood relations. I knew that seeking a Two-Spirit family was what I needed to do.
In Blackfoot, -xoko is the root word for friend, family, kin. Finding family as a detribalized Kainai Two-Spirit is not easy though. When trying to find other Two-Spirits to build community with, many often do not claim a Two-Spirit identity due to being told they aren’t worthy or there are other barriers to knowing, understanding, and accepting such identification. I know it took me a while to come into my Two-Spirit identity. I always knew who my people were. I always knew who I was. But was I Two-Spirit? Was I allowed to claim Two-Spirit? After a conversation over morning coffee with another Trans Native person, I decided: I am Two-Spirit enough. I am Two-Spirit.
I took to online communities to help find other Two-Spirits with whom to build close interpersonal relationships. But this approach was not without its own problems. From cis white drag queens, to bisexual cis musicians, to chronic-hashtagers, a common obstacle I encountered was needing to filter out the non-Native people using the #TwoSpirit tag on Instagram. Two-Spirits don’t have a “look,” as we are a diverse population, but so many times, I can tell from just seeing the picture and reading the caption, to verify if the user is actually a Two-Spirit person, or just a colonizer taking up space. It can be especially difficult because I never want to police someone's identity, but at the same time, I wish to find community, and these non-Two-Spirits are making that tough.
Once I did find Two-Spirits though, I felt enough trust to build family with. To be honest, there’s no greater joy. I met people who changed me in spiritual, physical, emotional, moral, and many more ways. I honor all of the relationships I’ve had with Two-Spirits. There are so many joys, pains, and struggles that come with building and maintaining my Two-Spirit chosen family. We have to navigate finding one another, learning how to heal together, and how to reduce trauma clashing between individuals. These crucial components of sustaining relations can be very difficult to manage in the world we live in today, and we have found ourselves hurting each other from time to time. Accountability is important for healing and for community. We have a handful of people all loving each other greatly but also carrying enough trauma for generations. How do you manage that?
Within my own Two-Spirit family, most of us have dealt with homelessness at some point in our lives and some are facing that cruelty at this very moment. We all have dealt with abuse from loved ones and from the system. Having our traumas clash against each other is unavoidable. How we move on from there is what really counts. We remind each other that there is consolation in the ancestors, in nature, and in the arts. Where one of us lacks, one, some, or all of us chip in to fill that. Be it money, food, touch, or anything else, as long as one of us has it, we all have it.
Two-Spirit Trans Women hold a very important role in my Two-Spirit family, and it’s important to center and uplift them while discussing the supportive roles we play to each other. Women are the backbones of solidarity movements, and that doesn’t change in this case. You will see them fighting the hardest, yelling the loudest, and demanding justice and sovereignty for all Two-Spirits. My sisters Alexa Rodriguez (Lenca Nation), and Dane Figueroa Edidi (Afro-Cherokee), are constantly fighting for our rights, showing up at all the actions, and ensuring that our younger Trans siblings are protected. All of the Women from Trans-Latinx DMV fight for my right to exist, and I must thank them for all of their efforts.
To hold a Two-Spirit family and all the heartache that each of us brings requires patience, compassion, and empathy. Almost like a blood relation family but more because we are dedicated to each other’s recovery by choice. We choose to love each other stronger, to hug tighter, to sit longer with each other’s feelings because no one else will.
For me, finding a Two-Spirit family was possibly the difference that makes living my best life possible. Thank you my family. Sokápi Níxokówa.
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