The Beauty and Pain of Two Spirits

Two Spirits Debuts on Independent Lens

O’siyo. Independent lens presented Two-Spirits,  the heat braking story of  Navajo Fred Martinez  who was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. Two Spirits explores the life and death of a boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender.

Two Spirits

“Fred Martinez, a Navajo youth, is remembered as being kind to everyone, a sensitive soul who felt great empathy for others. He will also be remembered as “one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history,” for he was brutally murdered when he was sixteen years old. Fred was a nadleehi (“one who is transformed”), which in Navajo tradition is “a male-bodied person who has a feminine essence.”

The Two Spirits of Fred Martinez. Independent Lens

When Fred realized his sexual orientation as transgender, he had a meeting with his family and explained it to them. His brother told him to be careful; his mother told him she would always love him. Shaun Murphy, an eighteen-year-old, bludgeoned Fred to death after meeting him at a party, and later bragged, “I had to beat up a fag.” Although it sounds like a hate crime, it wasn’t prosecuted as one.

Lydia Nibley’s Two Spirits “interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss…with a revealing look at the largely unknown history of a time when the world wasn’t simply divided into male and female, and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders.” Two Spirits explores the Navajo view of the interrelationship of feminine and masculine in individuals and the natural world, and examines issues of national concern, such as bullying of and violence against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals and the suicide epidemic among LGBT teens.”

The Beautiful Fred Martinez. Independent Lens.

Be sure to see this film, and stand up against violence!

We extend our  Condolences to Fred Martinez, his family and friends.

“When we’re free to love anyone we choose,

When this worlds big enough for all different views,

When we’re all free to worship from our own kind of pew,

Then we shall be free” ~ Garth Brooks ~ Song: We Shall Be Free

Educational Information

“In Navajo culture, there are four genders; some indigenous cultures recognize more. Native activists working to renew their cultural heritage adopted the English term “two-spirit” as a useful shorthand to describe the entire spectrum of gender and sexual expression that is better and more completely described in their own languages. The film demonstrates how they are revitalizing two-spirit traditions and once again claiming their rightful place within their tribal communities.” Independent Lens

Dancing to Two- Spirit Society

“Dancing is an uplifting experience of self-transformation designed to bring the spirits into your life. The transformational energies you receive will help you to appreciate yourself, nurture your intuition and awaken your senses and inner wisdom for health and longevity.” -Dancing to Two- Spirit Society organization-

Photo: ITVS.

We’wha in the ceremonial costume of Zuni women, 1886. Photo: Wikipedia

“We’wha (1849–1896, was a Zuni Native American from New Mexico. She was the most famous lhamana, a traditional Zuni gender role, now described as mixed-gender or Two-Spirit. Lhamana were men who lived in part as women, wearing a mixture of women’s and men’s clothing and doing a great deal of women’s work as well as serving as mediators.” 

Historic photo of Navajo couple from the collection of the Museum of New Mexico, 1866. Photo: ITVS


Becoming two spirit: Gay Identity and Social Acceptance in Indian Country by Brian Joseph Gilley

Living the Spirit: A Gay American Anthology, by Will Roscoe


Parents, Families, and Friends, Lesbians, and Gays (PFLAG)

SALGA You’re not alone  The South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association (SALGA) SALGA has gained prominence within New York City’s Indian American community.

Rainbow Law-Gay and Lesbian Directory  Mexico gay and lesbian publications… New Mexico gay and lesbian business…realtors, gay travel, gay wedding info, gay and lesbian support groups and much more.

Gay and Lesbians Organizations and Publications (national and international)

Listings in alphabetical order to help locate what you need.

Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits (BAAITS) a six-year-old nonprofit that offers support and activities to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Native Americans. Similar groups exist in Oklahoma, Colorado and Minnesota.

Category: Social