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Sep 07, 2023
Research shows 150 Indigenous communities acknowledge multiple genders; colonialism introduced idea of binary
For Benny Michaud, learning how to explain their identity has been a lifelong journey.
Growing up in the Métis community of St. Boniface in Winnipeg, Michaud says they always knew they were neither a boy nor a girl, but finding the right words to help people understand how they view themselves has taken a lot of energy.
They refer to themselves as a tasta-ee-iniw, which means a person who is “in-between” in the Michif and Cree languages.
“For me, that’s a term that is really important, because I find that it allows that part of me that I value to be understood by other people,” says Michaud. “So, it helps to locate me within the many genders that exist in the world as being somebody that is not a woman and not a man, but someone that is sacred and that deserves a place within the circle and deserves to be respected as a sacred being among all other beings in Creation.”
In recent decades, many LGBTQ Indigenous people have begun using the umbrella phrase “two-spirit,” while others are embracing terms from their own nations, in their own languages.