Indigenous, trans, 2 spirit Laurier University professor says ‘quality of life is not gonna change’ until ‘Two Spirit’ is added to LGBTQ acronym

Feb 9, 2024 | Political News

A professor at Laurier University, Ontario is advocating for a lengthening of the LGBTQ acronym to include two-spirit individuals and others, by changing it to MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+.

Dr. Percy Lezard, the co-ordinator of the Indigenous Studies program and a self-identified two-spirit, trans, disabled scholar who uses “they/them/theirs” pronouns, argued that the change was long overdue.

“If you still exclude the 2SLGBTQ component,” Lezard said, “you are literally telling me that the violence that I experience on the daily, or the members of my community experience on the daily, is not important, is not valid and is not worth talking about. So until we move from that space, to including the actual longer acronym, I think the quality of life is not gonna change.”

“I always center everything as an Indigenous person,” Lezard added. “I am a faculty member, I am a researcher, I'm a clinician, as a social worker for 35 plus years, but yet those are systems that if we critically engage and unpack, they continue to cause harm to First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Afro-Indigenous, black-Indigenous, 2SLGBTQQAI communities, and so I named the ways in which I am complicit, and so, in doing so, I acknowledge that we need to have a different framework.”

Lezard is one of the lead authors of the MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+ National Action Plan's final report, which was submitted in 2021. In it, Lezard and her colleagues argued that, “categories of gender, sex and sexuality have been introduced through colonial processes and institutions,” and that the term two-spirit “encompasses a broad range of sexual and gender identities of Indigenous peoples across North America and complicates distinctions between gender, sex and sexualities.”

“While the term is used by some people to refer to the cultural roles of individuals embodying both female and male spirits,” the report continued, ” it is important to distinguish between gender, sex and sexuality because of the way lesbian, gay and bisexual people are linked with transgender, transsexual people in the 2SLGBTQQIA+ acronym, and in broader queer and Indigenous communities.”

“I do this work because it needs to get done,” Lezard explained. “Until society stops seeing Indigenous women, girls & 2SLGBTTQIA+ as disposable and without humanity, I will continue to advocate and hold systems and structures accountable for the daily violence’s against our families, communities and nations. I do this work so those to come after me don't have to or have the capacity to keep fighting and stop the targeting against Indigenous women, girls and 2LGBTTQIA+.”