The Fundamental Aspect of Gender
Gender is one of the fundamental aspects of the personal and social identity as well as the biological, physiological, cultural and physiological characteristics of personal identity that is paramount to everyone. In addition, gender is the criterion for social stratification and favoured symbol for the expression of different values and believes.
Gender plays a fundamental role in the defining an individual’s private sense and subjective experiences. Firstly, it determines the private sense of gender identity, which consists of acceptance and memberships to the category of people within the society. Different societies have a set of gender category, which can serve as the background of defining social identity in relation to the members of the society. For example, in most of the communities, there exists a tradition of gender categories, which can serve as the basis of forming social identity. However, in some of the communities a definite number of the members do not identify themselves with any of the gender types associated with them (Chafetz, 2006).
For instance, in most of the western societies, there is the existence of a gender binary. This is a social dichotomy, which enforces conformance to the male or female gender identity in all aspects of gender and sexuality. This includes gender identity, the biological sex and gender expression. In some of the societies, there exists a third gender, which belongs to those individuals who do not feel comfortable with their biological gender identity, usually in relation to their sex. Thus, in some of the communities the membership of any of the genders is open to all people. A number of people assign themselves to belonging to either a man or a woman in correspondence to their assigned sex characteristics of male or female.
The Role of Two Spirit Gender in Traditional Native American Society
The two spirited gender in the native cultures in America is used to separate the social being form the social biological body. This gender is a social concept used frequently by the Native Americans to define biological females and males, who assume social roles, in addition to other roles associated with them (William et al., 2010). The third gender is a distinct category, which does not correspond to any of the other genders. In literature, the two spirited individuals are portrayed as less successful compared to the regular individuals. However, in the Native American society the two spirits had economic advantage, as they could perform male and female work. In other societies, the two-sided spirit had definite sources of income that were not available for the ordinary people, as they have the power to perform rituals (Jacobs, Thomas & Lang, 1997). One of the features that are consistent for the two sided spirit is their dressing preferences, as they wore clothing and hair styles associated with their chosen social roles, which were different than expected from their biological sex. This is an indication that distinction between genders is given both symbolic and practical values in the society.
How People Know They Are Two Spirited
This gender identity applies to people, who assume the social roles of male or female, in addition to their other roles defined by the binary gender classification. Individuals become two spirits due to personal inclination, parental selection and spiritual calling. For instance, from a tender age a child may show an interest in the occupation or work, which is typically associated with the roles of the other gender. Through this the parents had the obligation of training the children with respect to their appropriate chosen role. In some of the families that did not have sons, the parents trained their daughters to develop hunting skills so that they could contribute directly to providing the food for the family. Furthermore, some of the people would take their roles through spiritual calling or selection by parents. Dreaming to assume a specific gender such as the third gender was considered as a validation to gender transformation. The two spirit individuals, who came through spiritual calling, were perceived to have unnatural powers to heal or prophesize. The two spirit roles were formally validated and publicly marked as a special status through rituals. The two spirits perform economic duties, which are usually appropriate for the opposite sex. For instance, according to the Native American society, the two spirited girls participated in hunting and were occasionally treated as warriors. On the other hand, the two spirited men contributed to working in the farms in addition to other domestic duties assigned to them. In the event of war, the two spirited men were not called to fight (Driskill, 2011).
The Purpose of Third Gender Classification and Why Most Americans are Unaware of it
The two spirited gender classification is not commonly known in the developed world. The reason behind this unawareness is that the existence of this category of gender may not have been recorded by the Euro-American observers. This is because the third gender was well-established in most of the regions within the North America, especially in the western part (William et al., 2010). The two spirit society is less likely to be found in communities, which rely heavily on hunting as their source of livelihood. By the late nineteen century, the numbers of people considered to have the two spirits sexuality decreased due to the forced adoption of the Euro-American culture and practices. These cultural practices only insisted on binary form of gender classification. They degenerated the roles of men dressing like women and the vice versa, and considered homosexuality to be a violation of the natural and divine roles. The purpose of the two spirit identity arises from the acceptance of their native cultural roles and the rejection of the western culture discouraging their existence.
How the Awareness of the Third Gender is Changing in Native American Society
The awareness of the third gender party is changing the Native American society as they are trying to justify the existence of the third gender. The awareness clearly brings out the role of gender equality, which is a prerequisite for respect and high status among the two spirits. This is because it means that neither male nor female gives up on their acquired social prestige. This awareness has made the two spirit identity individuals attempt to achieve acceptance avoiding certain parts of their identity. This avoidance strategy of behaviour is associated to the passing activity in their identity. The third gender describes people, who through social consensus are affiliated to neither male nor female. They are usually referred to as the “other”. The third gender describes the state of people not being either male or female in relation to their gender roles within the society, their gender identity as well as their sexual orientation. This gender classification system is not particularly common, since most of the Americans are aware of the binary form of the classification of gender. Most of the Native Americans regard the third gender as the misinterpretation of the meaning of this gender. According to them, the third gender refers to the intermediate state between male and female. For example, having the spirit of a man in a woman body is expressed through physical strength and other typically male features. The other is the ability to swap genders and the state of neither being a male nor female (Jacobs, Thomas & Lang, 1997).