Aiyyana Maracle of Six Nations has journeyed through both genders in her lifetime. This Haudenosaunee grandmother was considered a male at birth, but now refers to herself as a transformed woman, continuing in a tradition of Two-Spirited peoples that has been around for centuries.
People who are transgender do not self-identify with their biological gender assigned at birth. Their bodies can feel foreign or awkward to them, and many say they feel as if they were born the wrong sex.
In many indigenous communities, there were traditionally third and fourth genders, as opposed to the rather limited two that have predominated Western understandings of gender. Two-spirited people would be able to wear clothing and perform work associated with men or women, and were respected as valuable members of the community. In fact, there have been male-bodied and female-bodied two-spirited people documented in over 130 North American tribes in every region of the continent.
Aiyyana was a focus of the recently aired CBC documentary Transgender Parents, discussing her incredible story of challenge and triumph. Director Remy Huberdeau describes the film as revealing “the gifts trans people bring to parenting because of, and not in spite of, their gender. It’s an intimate and tender look at the art of parenting: some of the hardest relational work in this life.”
This coming Tuesday, January 20th Aiyyana will be at the Brantford Public Library for a screening of Transgender Parents to discuss her incredible life. The film will be shown in the 3rd Floor Auditorium from 6-7 p.m. with a question and answer period to follow until 8 p.m. This screening is being co-presented by Gender Journey Brant, a peer support group run out of the Grand River Community Health Centre focused on providing support for individuals who identify as trans or gender-nonconforming and their allies.