Transphobia strikes everywhere. In long ago tradition, most Indigenous nations recognized that gender was much more than binary, however, it seems that much has been lost in the colonial zeal to rip people from their roots.
Had Women of the Navajo calendar founders included Paul, they would have been working against historical erasure, reclaiming the stories within their own inclusive cultural roots. Their discriminatory acts speak of lateral violence within our own communities. Oppression works laterally and vertically. Their acts against Paul are acts against cultural reclamation and Indigenous sovereignty. It’s time to give our people voice. Our bodies and our stories have the right to acceptance and recognition. Women of the Navajo had the opportunity to empower culture, identity, and acts of reclamation. Granted, it would have been late to the game, but it’s better to be late than never arrive at a political occasion that is inevitable. All Indigenous bodies are sovereign, deserving of protection, respect, and recognition. What are they scared of? Whatever phobia they invite, it is no doubt the product of boarding schools, assimilation, and other genocidal acts put upon us.
The stories where I’m from are gone. There is no pre-contact narrative of people who identified as anything beyond the gender binary. There are only a few stories of sexuality and gender, let alone any that speak of gender roles. Our ceremonies and stories were forbidden. Only within the past few generations have people been able to stand and bear witness. There is something from the past that still resonates: that our stories can be erased, and our bodies forbidden. If we do not claim our people, and their identities, and their stories, and their struggles, they will be erased from the continuum, just like everything that has been stripped from us. Their beautiful faces and struggles will not thrive if we don’t lift them up now, to praise their clarity and power.