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The Colonization Of Gender

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Gender existing on a spectrum, rather than on a binary, is indigenous to the Americas.

In the same manner that Europeans brought the Catholic Church to North American shores, they also brought their gender roles and social constructs. To any Boomer or anyone who says, “This non-binary gender thing is going too far,” I’m going to tell you exactly why you’re wrong —  with historical and scientific facts.

Across all Native American tribes, gender has always existed on a spectrum. The five main genders in Native American culture are very similar to what we see today: male, female, Two Spirit male, Two Spirit female, and transgender.  

You might be wondering, “What does ‘Two Spirit’ mean?’” 

A Two Spirit person is someone who identifies with neither their assigned sex at birth nor the opposite sex. Their gender identity falls somewhere in the middle. Often, Two Spirit individuals held positions of great importance as they were highly socially regarded within their communities. It wasn’t until European colonization that this gender spectrum underwent massive erasure. 

Erasure that is still present and potent today. The need for non-binary representation is so real. 

So, when you hear the statement, “Gender is a social construct,” it’s not just some smart-sounding statement your artsy friend learned at their liberal arts college. 

Gender is a product of society.

The “traditional gender roles” we’ve learned about are only traditional by European standards. Traditional gender roles within the Americas, among the people who actually lived here first, are vastly different. As are the inner workings of their communities. See now how society directly affects our perception of gender? 

Sex is biological; gender is not biological. And even then, the very existence of intersex people proves that biological sex does not equate gender identity.

Intersex is “a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

Gender is neither biological nor does it exist on a binary. Human beings are complex, yo. What do you think? Did you know this information about indigenous America’s past or did you learn something new?

  • “Gender is a social construct”?

    • Yes, I understand!
    • I still don’t understand.


Written by Nina Slowinski

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