When we decided to launch the Two-Spirit Initiative (TSI) at GSA Network, we did so because we saw a gap in the space between programming and resources for Native & Two-Spirit people and trans & queer youth. Over the past year, we’ve worked with members of our TSI Collective to discuss where GSA Network might be able to meet the needs of Two-Spirit youth with regard to the specific landscapes they face. 

There is no shortage of examples of the trauma and racism, both historical and present-day, that Native youth still face. In an era where we are finding the literal skeletons of the past on the grounds of boarding schools where stolen Native youth were taken, the ongoing ways that colonization has created generational impacts through loss of language and cultural understanding create an environment where Native youth–and Two-Spirit youth in particular–must navigate the pull toward decolonization while moving through systems still set up to assimilate them into dominant culture.

Native communities are inter-generational by nature and, sometimes, necessity. There are strong cultural values of respect for our elders which often come in conflict with the methods and practices of white-centered movement work. At the same time, Two-Spirit youth face community values and elders or “culture keepers” who may uphold a kind of traditionalism that colonization has forced them to adapt in potentially harmful ways in order to survive. Two-Spirit youth are trying to balance advocating for oneself while also maintaining respect for our elders at a time when our views of gender and sexuality are re-indigenizing back to pre-colonization.

The uniqueness of the Two-Spirit youth experience requires resources and programming that is not just culturally informed but is devised by and for Two-Spirit people. Throughout Native American History Month, we’ll be highlighting Two-Spirit voices in our social media and blog posts as well as previewing a new resource for GSA clubs on what Two-Spirit means.

Learn more about our Two-Spirit Initiative here.

Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA Network) is a next-generation LGBTQ racial and gender justice organization that empowers and trains trans, queer, and allied youth leaders to advocate, organize, and mobilize an intersectional movement for safer schools and healthier communities. In California, GSA Network connects over 1,000 GSA clubs through regional summits and youth councils. Nationally, GSA Network leads the National Association of GSA Networks which unites 40 statewide networks of GSA clubs, and GSAs Unite, an online campaign and petition platform supporting youth organizers across the country.