See also: two spirit


English Wikipedia has an article on:


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /tuːˈspɪɹɪt/, /ˈtuːˌspɪɹɪt/

Etymology 1Edit

Modern English calque of Ojibwe niizh manidoowag (two spirits), itself a modern term (both originating in 1990), from niizh (two) + manidoo (spirit).[1] Replaced berdache (considered offensive) in anthropological literature.[1]


two-spirit (plural two-spirits)

  1. A Native (North) American gender-variant, homosexual or bisexual person (especially one belonging to a traditional tribal third-gender, fourth-gender or transgender cultural category that has a ceremonial role).
    • 2006, John Leland, “A Spirit of Belonging, Inside and Out”, in The New York Times[1]:
      "'The elders will tell you the difference between a gay Indian and a Two-Spirit,' [Joey Criddle] said, underscoring the idea that simply being gay and Indian does not make someone a Two-Spirit."
    • 2016, Harlan Pruden and Se-ah-dom Edmo for the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center, “Two-Spirit People: Sex, Gender & Sexuality in Historic and Contemporary Native America”, in ReWire:
      "The term/identity of two-spirit does not make sense unless it is contextualized within a Native American frame." "Today, most people associate the term with LGBT Natives; however, the work of the two-spirit organizations is more akin with the traditional understanding."
Usage notesEdit
  • "Nations and tribes used various words to describe various genders, sexes and sexualities. Many had separate words for the Western constructs of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, intersex individuals, [etc] ... Even these categories are limiting, because they are based on Western language and ideas rooted in a dichotomous relationship between gender, sex, and sexuality. This language barrier limits our understanding of the traditional roles within Native American/First Nations cultures."[1]
  • "Although two-spirit implies to some a spiritual nature, that one holds the spirit of two, both male and female, traditional Native Americans/First Nations peoples view this as a Western concept. Since historically many "berdache/two-spirit" individuals held religious or spiritual roles, the term two spirit creates a disconnection from the past. The terms used by other tribes currently and historically do not translate directly into the English form of two spirit or the Ojibwa form of niizh manidoowag."[1]
  • 2
  • 2S
  • berdache (offensive, no longer in contemporary use)
Derived termsEdit


two-spirit (not comparable)

  1. Pertaining to or being a two-spirit.
    • 1996, Ritch C Savin-Williams and Kenneth M Cohen, The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals: Children to Adults, page 421:
      A Hupa two-spirit male told me: ‘I was real feminine as a child, from as early as I can remember.’
    • 1997, Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Wesley Thomas, and Sabine Lang, Two-spirit People, page 4:
      With this etymology, it should come as no surprise that many Native American gay, lesbian, transgender, and other two-spirit people consider the term ‘berdache’ derogatory.
    • 2010, Walter L Williams, The Guardian, 11 Oct 2010:
      Instead of seeing two-spirit persons as transsexuals who try to make themselves into "the opposite sex", it is more accurate to understand them as individuals who take on a gender status that is different from both men and women.

See alsoEdit


  • Jacobs, Sue-Ellen; Wesley Thomas, and Sabine Lang (Eds.). (1997). Two-spirit people: Native American gender identity, sexuality, and spirituality. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. →ISBN, →ISBN.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Kylan Mattias de Vries in Jodi O'Brien, Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, volume 1 (2009) →ISBN, p. 64

Etymology 2Edit

From two +‎ spirit.


two-spirit (not comparable)

  1. (theology) Involving two spirits; especially, pertaining to the doctrine of dualism espoused in the so-called Treatise on the Two Spirits in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    • 1957, The Harvard Divinity School bulletin (Harvard University Press), page 133:
      Paul's grasp of the Spirit as the sign of the erupting messianic age is at odds with the two-spirit thought of Qumran which never became incompatible with law observance.