If I had lived in the United States 200 years ago, no one would have called me a woman. And I wouldn’t necessarily have had to marry a man.
Before the Europeans invaded the beautiful lands of North America, the Indians who resided there knew five sexes:
- two-spirit male
- two-spirit female
Each tribe had its own name for the sexes other than the traditional male and female, but there was a need for a universal name, so the term “two-spirit” was adopted.
The Navajo called the two-spirit sex nádleehí: one who has undergone a transformation.
The Lakota had the word winkté: a man who compulsively acts like a woman.
The Cherokee had two names: a woman who acts like a man, and vice versa, a man who acts like a woman.
Had I been born 200 years ago, someone who saw my jewelry collection would certainly have said that I was a woman. However, looking at how I behave in business, they’d have some doubts and would possibly have classified me under a different sex. So, who am I? An incomplete woman or an incomplete man? I’d definitely prefer to be called a two-spirited person. And if that were the case, my sense of uniqueness would have increased. And not just in my own eyes. Because in those days, a person with a two-spirit gender was considered a gift, a blessing. And who doesn’t want to be a blessing? Maybe that’s why Indians didn’t have any problems with self-esteem – they felt special no matter who they were. They also didn’t have problems with feminism or chauvinism. And they didn’t know the concept of a glass ceiling. And that’s not because there was no corruption or hierarchy, but because a person’s value was determined not by their sex, but by how much they contributed to the tribe and how useful and necessary they were for the tribe.
Sex wasn’t a criterion. Diligence, talent, courage were the important criteria to determine a person’s value. Children had unisex clothes and could do whatever they liked. There was no division between Blasters and Barbie’s – or back then, between bows and arrows and bowls and pots. There was also no concept of love – of who should love, who should be loved, and how love should be fulfilled. Love was an expression of affection. And each of its forms was perceived by tribes without judgment or evaluation.
In the Crow tribe, there was the word ‘Baté’ – a woman who is born a man. Osch-Tisch was the most famous Baté in the Crow community. Not only was he remarkably skilled in terms of sewing and basket weaving, but he was also very brave on the battlefield. That’s why he was called Osch-Tisch, which means, “finds and kills.” He was one of the greatest warriors and was therefore worshiped within his tribe. He had a beautiful wife and he wore both men’s and women’s clothes. He enjoyed MASSIVE respect and prestige.
Unfortunately, the harmony between the Baté and the rest of the tribe didn’t last forever.
In 1980, federal agents encroached on the Crow tribe. They found that such behavior was unacceptable. There was no box for a two-spirit gender in their minds, so instead of adding such a box, the federal agents decided to force the Indian to fit into one of theirs.
Osch-Tisch, like the other Baté, was forced to cut his hair short and dress like a European. The Crow were horrified by this act of aggression – ‘how can you change a Baté into someone they are not?!’ With extraordinary aggression and bravery, they defended the rights of their people to be themselves. I wish I could write that everything ended well and the Indians lived happily ever after, but unfortunately, I write a blog, not Hollywood screenplay.
For as long as he lived, Osch-Tisch defended his right to be a Baté, and his people stood beside him. Unfortunately, the Baté was the last warrior in North American history. After them, Europeans took over the minds of indigenous Americans and forced them to forget that EVERYONE SHOULD FIGHT for the right to be themselves and opposing any change that they imposed is aggression and rape.
I’d wish someone could repair the damage the Europeans did, so we could return to a state where we judge people based on their values and what they offer our society:
Are they hard-working and curious?
Are they kind and compassionate?
Are they courageous and brave?
Can they love and have open hearts?
I’d like everyone to remember that loving someone means respecting and admiring their individuality. Does anyone think they’re heroic to “tolerate” other people’s differences? Shouldn’t we adore our differences and love each other because of them, not despite them?
It should definitely hurt us more if someone tortures another person to death trying to change who they are rather than respecting their individuality:
Like the toxic partner who pours acid into their partner’s soul simply because they have some complexes or sadistic tendencies of their own.
Like a lazy parasite who feeds off of their partner – squeezing them like a lemon.
Like an alcoholic who pulls another person into their spiral of addiction or guilt.
That’s what we should be looking out for.
That’s what we should be judging.
That’s what we should be helping with and repairing – not judging people because they’re a woman or a man, black, white, or pink – divorced, disabled, too young, pimply, with a checkered past, etc. None of this matters. Because only “usefulness for the tribe” should be important, and that’s not measured by skin color or chromosome type.
I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and help the Indians change the Europeans.
But even if time travel were possible, getting an Indian to change a European would be impossible. Because instead of changing others, the Indians preferred to lead their own, happy lives. And that’s what I wish for you and myself: to be so happy that we won’t have the time nor the inclination to judge others.
If I don’t get to spend a little bit of time with people from nature on my long journeys, I feel that my trip isn’t complete. Meditation trips never put me on the straight and narrow. Thanks to them, I remember which boxes are important and which I can do away with.
We torture and pigeonhole others instead of opening ourselves up to the fact that the world doesn’t necessarily have a zero-one distribution. Between the two are several different colors, sexes, and ways of life. The world is big. There’s enough room for everybody.