The Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Canada has a course for law students on Aboriginal & Indigenous Law in Context class. As part of that course, students were given a list of suggestions by the professor for dealing with their colonial pasts and acknowledging indigenous peoples. This includes a suggestion to “update your email signature to reflect the territory you live and work on.” One of the points included a new category for recognition (at least in my experience). The school told students “when discussing LGBTQ issues, always include two-spirited peoples (LGBTQ2S).”
While there are references to this course title on Facebook and the university newspaper, I only found on optional course on the topic by a different name, though the content has been controversial. I actually think that an optional course on aboriginal law is a great idea. My main interest with the reference to the additional category on student identification.
I had not heard of the two-spirited peoples category or that it is now LGBTQ2S. Here is one definition that I located on a LGBTQ site (thought not aLGBTQ2S site):
“Two-spirited” refers to a person who has both a masculine and a feminine spirit, and is used by some First Nations people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. As an umbrella term it may encompass same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender variance, including people who might be described in Western culture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, gender queer, cross-dressers or who have multiple gender identities. Two-spirited can also include relationships that would be considered poly. The creation of the term “two-spirited” is attributed to Albert McLeod, who proposed its use during the Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference, held in Winnipeg in 1990.
If you are not a member of a First Nations tribe, then it is not liberatory to use the term “Two Spirit.” If you did not descend from their ancestors and their struggles, and if you do not understand the history of their tribes or their words, then they are not yours to use and your use of the terms is theft, or what is called cultural appropriation. All to often, we appropriate words, customs and clothes from other cultures without the context to really know their implications. Of course we are not saying that the term is or should be patented in some way, but we are asking you to consider the similarity between using this term and, say, wearing a headdress. Consider the impact, rather than your intention.
The law school also encourages students to oppose political figures and policies that do not conform with the support of indigenous peoples as well as buying items such as “a dreamcatcher or a pair of earrings” from indigenous artists. That last item is interesting because students and faculty are increasingly facing criticism of cultural appropriation in wearing items (here) or working out or eating food (here and here and here) or even hair styles deemed associated with particular groups.
As for LGBTQ2S, (and this admittedly may be my aging brain) but at some point the term is going to get too long to say, let alone remember.