November 20, 2009

Two Spirits Documents Collision of Native American Culture and Small Town Intolerance

Lydia NibleyIn 2001, 16-year-old Fred Martinez was brutally murdered near his hometown of Cortez, Colorado. He was poor, Navajo, and transgendered – a girl in a boy’s body. Fred was blessed to have grown up with the cultural belief there are four genders, not only male and female but mixed identities like his. Among his own people, he was accepted as nádleehí, a word that means “one who constantly transforms” in the Navajo language; it connotes a spiritual and sexual being who is also known to and honored by other Native American cultures as a “two-spirit person.” The traditional roles of such people have included healing, mediation, and the parenting of orphans. The tragedy of Fred’s life, however, is that also he grew up in small-town America, where far narrower views of both ethnicity and gender ultimately proved fatal to him.

In this podcast episode film critic Robert Denerstein is joined by Two Spirits co-producer Lydia Nibley, who gives us some additional background information on this film.

Two Spirits will be screened at 12:30 PM on Saturday, November 21 at the King Center.

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