Editors' note:Pam Daniels is a writer and activist with 23 years experience in broadcast news and media including the staff of a former Governor.
The movie Two Spirits will premier on PBS this coming June.
Two Spirits as described on the Cinema Guild website is the story of Fred Martinez who "was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine essence, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. He was one of the youngest hate crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at sixteen by a young man who bragged to friends that he had "bug-smashed a fag." Two Spirits explores the life and death of a boy who was also a girl and the essentially spiritual nature of gender and sexuality.
This movie is a must-see for every LGBT person, all gender congruent heterosexuals who support us and anyone else we can convince to watch it.
I first found out about Two Spirits from a recent post to our GRAANJ (Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey) news group, via my dear friend Babs Siperstein. Babs posted a press release about the broadcast premier of Two Spirits from another dear friend Cathy Renna, a contributor here on Bilerico who is also Managing Partner of Renna Communications.
My heart grew heavy reading about Fred Martinez at the above link because here we are, it's 2011 and still, LGBT people face the threat of violence, even death. Today in 2011 all the forces arrayed against enforcement of LGBT birthrights still exist. Even today in 2011, transgender and LGB people face the threat of physical assault despite national and some state laws on the books to prosecute offenders.
I have personal knowledge of what happened here in New Jersey nearly a year and a half ago. My good friends Neen and Mitze, a committed lesbian couple for more than eight years, feel forced to sell their home and move because of a neighbor who assaulted Neen and used anti-lesbian and gay slurs during the attack. This assailant recently got off scott-free because municipal and county authorities never investigated.
I stood with more than a hundred others in Princeton University's Chapel to read aloud the names of and the circumstances surrounding the death of all transgender people murdered during the previous twelve months. One of those was the name of a New Jersey trans woman, a kind and productive member of our citizenry who was brutally murdered only weeks before our annual Transgender Day Of Remembrance service at Princeton University.
I am an Eagle Scout, an accomplishment I'm very proud of. I was honored to be elected to the Order of the Arrow first as a teen in North Jersey, then again as an adult leader in Southeast Arizona where I lived for eight years. All members of the "OA" learn about the customs and traditions of local tribes, in my case the Oratam of North Jersey and the Apache of Southeast Arizona.
I was very pleased when University of Arizona Associate Professor and member of the Yaqui tribe Carlos Gonzales delivered his Native American invocation before President Obama spoke in Tucson Wednesday night. I had been reading about Fred Martinez earlier that afternoon and this excerpt struck me:
Although two-spirit people were celebrated in many tribes, as Europeans began to arrive on this continent Native views that the range of human sexuality is not a sin but a gift were met with genocide, the forced imposition of Christianity, and other kinds of subjugation that have resulted in many tribal communities losing touch with their two-spirit traditions. Native activists working to renew their cultural heritage adopted the English term "two-spirit" as a useful shorthand to describe the entire spectrum of gender and sexual expression that is better and more completely described in their own languages.
Mr. Hume needs to take some time to think just how "peculiar" Native Americans found the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion to be hundreds of years ago. Mr. Hume and others need to remember that our Constitution and Bill of Rights protect all religious and spiritual expression from interference by anyone else or government. Thankfully Professor Gonzales referred to "Two Spirited" people in his invocation.
At the root of all discrimination against LGBT people are the totally false beliefs proffered by people like Hume and the others quoted in the above link and their insistence on forcing everyone to believe as they do along with their willingness to violate our Constitution and Bill of Rights by incessantly using public law and policy to deny LGBT people our birthrights.
To win full enforcement of all our birthrights our LGBT community must do a much, much better job of education and outreach. We must be persistent and polite while each one of us takes our argument for full enforcement of our birthrights "in person" to everyone we know and meet.
The PBS premier of Two Spirits offers our LGBT community an excellent opportunity. PBS is certainly not known for dominating television ratings. We know that LGBT people make up anywhere from 20 to 35 percent of the population of this planet and therefore the United States. Let's at least strive to make Two Spirits break existing PBS ratings records but if we can, even better, let's make the ratings for this movie rival commercial broadcast and cable show ratings. Achieving a goal like this will not only help us educate gender congruent heterosexuals but it would also send a powerful message to those who continue to deny us our birthrights.