Two Spirits follows the life of Fred Martinez, a Native American teen who was murdered after living a life free of gender norms. Martinez began to embrace femininity in new ways in his adolescence, and was supported by his family who understood his identity based on the well-established Navajo belief of nadleehi. Nadleehi people are known to have both masculine and feminine characteristics. Considered to have a more complex understanding of masculinity and femininity, a nadleehi is viewed as a valuable member of Navajo society and are treated with respect and reverence.
The film explores issues of national concern including the bullying and violence commonly faced by LGBT people and the epidemic of LGBT teen suicide. It also goes into a more detailed discussion of the range of gender expressions that have long been seen as a healthy part of many North American indigenous cultures, and of Navajo culture in particular.As the film traces the ramifications of Fred’s murder, it also shows the transformation being undertaken by Native activists who are working to restore the rich heritage of two-spirit people and to claim their place within their tribal communities.
For more information on Two Spirits and Independent Lens, head to http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/two-spirits/