Violent Victimization and HIV
Among the Native
LBGT/Two Spirit Community
Presented By:
Elton Naswood, Project Coordinator
Red Circle Project, AIDS Project Los Angeles
10th National Indian Nations Conference:
Justice for Victims of Crime
Palm Springs, CA ~ December 8, 2006
Violent Victimization and HIV Among the
Native LBGT/Two Spirit Community
• Curriculum developed and written by Elton Naswood and
Sandi Pierce.
• Originally presented at the American Indian/Alaska
Native Victim Assistance Academy Pilot Training in
August 2005 at the Fond du Lac Tribal & Community
College in Cloquet, MN.
• Funded by grant to Tribal Law and Policy Institute by the
Office of Victims of Crime (OVC), US Department of
• Also, presented at Native Peoples of North America
HIV/AIDS Conference in May 2006 in Anchorage, AK
and received national media attention on Victimization
Two Spirit – Definition
• Two Spirit term refers to Native
American/Alaskan Native
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender (LGBT) individuals
• Came from the Anishinabe
• It means having both female and
male spirits within one person.
• Has a different meaning in
different communities.
History of Two Spirits
• Encompassing term used is “Two
Spirit” adopted in 1990 at the 3rd
International Native Gay & Lesbian
Gathering in Winnipeg, Canada.
• The term is used in rural and urban
communities to describe the reclaiming of their traditional identity
and roles.
• The term refer to culturally
prescribed spiritual and social
roles; however, the term is not
applicable to all tribes.
Tribal Language and Two Spirit
male and female
Spirituality and Culture
• “Alternative gender roles were respected and honored
and believed to part of the sacred web of life and
• Lakota view: Wintkes are sacred people whose
androgynous nature is an inborn character trait or the
result of a vision.
• Example: Lakota Naming Ceremony
• For many tribes, myths revealed that two-spirit were
decreed to exist by deities or were among the panethon
of gods.”
• Example: Navajo Creation Story – The Separation of Sexes
LGBT/Two Spirit Umbrella
Two Spirit
A woman whose enduring
physical, romantic, emotional
and/or spiritual attraction is to
other women.
A man whose enduring
physical, romantic,
emotional and/or spiritual
attraction is to other men
A term for people whose
gender identity and/or
gender expression differs
An individual who is
form the sex they were
physically, romantically,
assigned at birth.
emotionally and/or
spiritually attracted to men
and women
A contemporary term used to identify Native
American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender
individuals with traditional and cultural
understandings of gender roles and identity.
Fred Martinez, Jr.
• She was a 16-year-old
Navajo Transgender.
• Her friends adored her.
• “Had he been born a
woman,” one teacher
said, “he’d have been the
most popular girl in town.”
• The 19-year-old killer
assaulted Martinez and
crushed her skull with a
rock, sliced open her
abdomen, and left her to
die by the side of the
Fred Martinez, Jr.
• Later, the killer bragged to friends, “I bugsmashed a hoto.” Hoto is Spanish slang for
• Fred’s mother learned the details of her son’s
autopsy not from the district attorney’s office, but
from the newspaper.
• She filed a formal Request of Enforcement of
Compliance, saying her rights as a crime victim
to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity,
and to be informed and present for all critical
stages of the criminal justice process, had been
Federal Bureau Investigations (FBI)
Statistics (1998, most recent)
• Of all hate crimes reported for 1998,
16.2% were motivated by sexual
orientation bias
• Of those, 67% were specifically against
gay men and 18% were against lesbians
• The remaining 15% were motivated by
more than one bias (such as both race
and sexual orientation)
Hate Speech
• Verbal harassment—unwanted, intrusive words
or gestures designed to put the person down or
make them feel unsafe
• Includes name-calling, hang-up phone calls,
anonymous notes or mail, and physical gestures
• Can be a warning sign of impending violence
• Considered a “bias-motivated incident” not a
hate crime but still a threat—should be reported
to police anyway, and should be defined as such
on the report
Screening for Hate Crimes
• If the victim describes her/himself as TwoSpirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
or says they are questioning their
sexuality, be sure to ask if the person said
anything about their sexual orientation
during the assault.
• If the assault appears to be motivated by
anti-LGBTQ bias, report it as a hate crime
Domestic Violence Against
• It is estimated that 15-20% of gay male
relationships involve domestic violence
• Several studies of lesbian relationships
have found that 40-50% involve violence
• A survey of transgender and intersex
individuals found that 50% had been raped
or assaulted by their partners
Myths about Two-Spirit
Domestic Violence
• Abusers are usually bigger, stronger, or
more “butch” than their partners
• LGTBQ victims can easily leave abusive
partners because they have no legal ties
to them
• Transgender people wouldn’t get hurt if
they didn’t dress or try to act like
something they’re not
Unique Types of Abuse
• Threatening to “out” the victim
• Reinforcing victim’s fears that no one will help
her/him because of sexual orientation
• Justifying abuse by claiming that the victim is not
a “real” Two-Spirit person because s(he)
previously had an opposite-sex relationship
• Claiming that the violence is consensual,
especially if the victim defends her/himself
Threats of HIV/AIDS
• If the abused partner has HIV/AIDS, the abuser may
threaten to tell others – disclosure.
• The HIV-positive partner will suggest abuse if the
relationship ends.
• The abuser may withhold, dispose, or hid partner’s HIV
medication and other needs.
• The abuser may take advantage of the HIV-positive
partner’s economic affairs.
• Physical violence is potent as HIV-positive victims can
not defend themselves or may fear complications from
bruising, infections or slow healing may result.
• An HIV-positive abuse may threaten to infect a partner.
Legal Protections
• A search of Tribal Codes found none
addressing hate crimes
• There are no federal protections for hate
crimes based on sexual orientation
• State law may be the best protection, in
communities where the state has
• Currently, Navajo LBGT have organized a
group “Dine Rainbow Coalition” to
strategize on Tribal Hate Crime legislation.
Remember Poem
Remember…We are here to listen,
Not to work miracles.
We are here to help “victims” discover
What they are feeling
Not to make the feelings go away.
We are here to help “victims” identify their options.
Not to decide for them what they should do.
We are here to discuss steps with them.
Not to take steps for them.
We are here to help victims discover they can help
Not to rescue them leaving them still vulnerable.
May the Creator Always Guide and Protect
You as You Walk In Beauty . . .
Ahe’hee (Thank you)
The Red Circle Project
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA)
3550 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. # 300
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Telephone: 213-201-1311

Victimization of Two