by Ciana Parker, Domestic Violence Outreach Advocate & Elle Prax, Community Relations Outreach Specialist
Just halfway through 2023, the United States have seen the record highest number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced. It is important more than ever that we continue to advocate for our Two-Spirit (2S) and LGBTQ+ friends and family to show that they are not alone. Acceptance of those who are recognizing themselves as LGBTQ+/2S helps reduce the risk of suicide, self-harm, and unhealthy coping behaviors. Offering acceptance also prevents adolescents from being vulnerable to predatory adults.
In a recent study of Two-Spirit women, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition found that “78% of the women had been physically assaulted and 85% were sexually assaulted, four times higher than the estimate of lifetime assault among women in the general population.” Additionally, 45% of Two-Spirit men reported sexual assault from someone other than their partner.
The COVID-19 pandemic left lasting mental health effects to this day. LGBTQ+/2S individuals from various tribes have reported poorer physical well-being, social and connective well-being, and spiritual well-being. During the pandemic, LGBTQ+/2S individuals experienced an increase in loneliness, anxiety, and depression as well as heightened concerns about opportunities for employment, education, and healthcare.
The ITCN’s Family Violence Prevention Program supports and services everyone. Under the American Rescue Plan (ARP), we are dedicated to help those who are experiencing domestic violence, intimate partner violence, abuse and assault including while affected by COVID-19 or its impacts to mental health.
What does Two-Spirit mean?
The term “two-spirit” was first introduced in 1990 during the Third Annual Intertribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference. Two-Spirit is derived from the Anishnaabemowin term niizh manidoowag. It is important to note that individuals identifying with both masculine and feminine spirits have been long recognized and honored in tribal communities’ pre-colonization. In many tribes, Two-Spirits have held flexible work roles or special roles such as healers and shamans.
Bird, N. (2021). Wabanaki Two spirit alliance. Final Report: Survey on Covid-19 Impacts with the Two-Spirit Community of Wabanaki, 2021. https://ca.linkedin.com/company/wabanaki-two-spirit-alliance
CSVANW. (2023). LGBTQ2S+. CSVANW Coalition to STOP Violence Against Women. https://www.csvanw.org/lgbtq/
Native and Indigenous LGBTQ students. GLSEN. (2023). https://www.glsen.org/research/native-and-indigenous-lgbtq-students