|T-S, T-s: Two Spirit / Two
GLBTQ: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer
North American Aboriginal*
SUBMISSION FOR CANADA’S 2ND UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
The Native Youth Sexual Health Network
"The high rates of suicide among young Two-Spirit and gender non-conforming youth are forms of violence that are currently being overlooked. The self-determined gender expression of Indigenous Peoples, for example, the freedom to identify as Two-Spirit, is something to be celebrated - not criminalized. Understanding the roots of suicide in Indigenous communities requires an approach that goes beyond the individual to a level where social factors are adequately addressed (AHF, 2007)."
|"The Center of
Excellence on Racial and Ethnic Minority Young Men
Who Have Sex with Men and Other Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, and Transgender Populations (YMSM+LGBT
CoE) was established to help providers develop
skills to deliver culturally-responsive and evidence
based prevention and treatment services for lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and transgender populations dealing
with co-occurring substance use and mental health
disorders." Note: Focus on ages 18 to 6 years.
Many webinards available.
|NOTE: "THRIVE staff will
automatically send 1 package per Tribe to the
43-federally recognized Tribes in ID, OR, and WA....
THRIVE provides training and technical
assistance on suicide prevention & media
campaign development in the Pacific Northwest. ASIST
and QPR trainings are offered to NW Tribes at little
to no cost. Please contact email@example.com
if you would like more information, or to learn more
about the new “Zero Suicide” model that is
being implemented nationwide."
Two Spirit People Then and Now & Other Webinars by SAMHSA:
Sex, Gender and Sexuality in Historical & Contemporary Native America
September 10, 2012 - Webinar Video (YouTube, Part 1 of 3, 2, 3)
Native American Center for Excellence
Annual International Two Spirit Gathering
Camp Fircom Gambier Island, Vancouver, BC
July 27-30, 2011
Annual International Two Spirit Gathering
Beausejour, Manitoba, Canada
September 3-6, 2010
Suicide Prevention and Two-Spirited People (2012)
National Aboriginal Health Organization - Document Download
Related News Items:
First Nations' suicide prevention guide celebrates diversity (2012)
"While interventions aimed at addressing
suicide risk factors for all youth are being
implemented and many have proven effective in the
general population, no evidence- based
intervention currently exists to reduce suicide
risk within [the LGBT] population." Marshall A
(2016). Suicide Prevention Interventions for
Sexual & Gender Minority Youth: An Unmet Need.
Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 89:
205-213. PDF Download.
A World First!
- - Jacobs R, Morris S (2016). National
LGBTI Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Strategy: A New Strategy for Inclusion and
Change: An Australian Government initiative. Related Article. Document PDF Download. Exerpt
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People - -i. Recognition and specific inclusion of LGBTI, Sistergirl and Brotherboy people in the development of any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strategies, frameworks, programmes and services. ii. Timely access to appropriate multi-disciplinary clinical and non-clinical mental health services that have expertise that is appropriate for Indigenous LGBTI people and their families. iii. Support and resourcing for the establishment, development and growth of Indigenous and LGBTI peer led programmes, services organisations and support groups supporting Indigenous LGBTI people and communities. iv. Develop and resource mental health and suicide prevention initiatives that specifically target Indigenous LGBTI people and communities, and where available be implemented and delivered by Indigenous LGBTI peer led organisations that have a core mission of providing programmes and services to Indigenous LGBTI people and communities."
|This isn’t the first victory for queer Native Americans. In 2006, the First Nations Two Spirit Collective formed, creating a political platform for LGBT native people. In 2008, the Coquille tribe of North Bend, Ore., became the first to allow same-sex marriage. This summer, the Suquamish became the second. Two months later, the Oglala Sioux tribe of Pine Ridge, S.D., issued a proclamation in support of LGBT equality, declaring it “time to ignite the civil rights movement of the 21st century.” This may sound progressive, but Native Americans’ recognition of queer people predates Columbus...|
|"Suicide rates among LGBTQ youth and adults
are approximately 2.5-3 times higher than the
general Canadian population (Fieland et al., 2007).
Some researchers have cautioned that we must be wary
of comparing studies of LGBTQ suicide among the
general population to realities among Aboriginal
communities, due to both the impact of colonization
on Indigenous sexuality as well as the cultural
specificity of respect for the traditional roles of
Two-Spirit people (Kirmayer et al., 2007). Clearly
more research is needed on the specific risk of
suicidality facing Two-Spirit people, as the
relationship between sexual orientation, gender
identity and suicide in Aboriginal communities has
only received limited attention (Ibid.)" ... Youth
suicide rates among Aboriginal communities in Canada
have been found to be much lower in areas where
cultural connectedness, historical continuity and
identity are strong (Kirmayer et al., 2007; Chandler
& Lalonde, 1998). This may also be true for
Two-Spirit peoples. One study, for example, stated
that the risk of suicidality can be decreased if
Two-Spirit individuals are connected to their
culture and traditions, and are able to recognize
the impacts of colonization (NAHO, 2012).
Evidence Brief: Inform Your Practice Because LGBTQ Health Matters:
Two-Spirit and LGBTQ Indigenous Health (by Rainbow Health, Ontario, 2016).
"While the health disparities between Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) people in what is now known as Canada and their non-Indigenous peers are well documented, little research exists on the unique health needs of sexual and gender minority individuals who identify as Indigenous.(1-3) Existing data on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and twospirit Indigenous people suggests that they experience unique barriers to culturally safe health care, and are at greater risk for negative mental and physical health outcomes than their nonIndigenous LGBTQ peers and their non-LGBTQ Indigenous peers."
Two Spirits, One Voice is a [Canadian] community-based initiative that seeks to bolster supports for persons that identify both as LGBTQ and Indigenous –Two Spirit people. Funded through the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, this program works with educators, healthcare workers, law enforcement and other community service providers to ensure that all services within a community are equipped to provide inclusive and cultural aware services with regards to gender and sexuality.
To Consider Seriously: At a 2004 conference on suicide a Quebec expert on Aboriginal youth suicide makes a related presentation and does not mention the possibility that Two Spirit Youth are at great risk for suicide. At the end of the presentation he is asked if homosexuality plays a role in Aboriginal youth suicide. His reply: "It plays, big time!" At another 2004 conference - an Aboriginal Injury Conference - in a private conversation - a social worker from a large reservation is asked if homosexuality is implicated in youth suicide on her reservation. She reports that the last two youth suicide victims were Two Spirit male youth. She then explains why this fact was not made public by those who knew that the two suicide victims were Two Spirit. [Something similar was later reported by Rowe in 2006 youth suicide events on another reservation (2008). However, he will omit much of the related information.]
Question: Why are such facts still being swept under the infamous rug? What would be effective "suicide prevention" for at risk Two Spirit youth?
Important: Where are the stories of Two Spirit youth who attempted suicide? When will those who attempted suicide begin to talk and reveal what were the causes of their distress? When will those who know the stories of Two Spirit youth suicide victims also begin to talk? When will the deafening and deadly silence end? Is it true that... Silence Kills! [Note: Written in 2006. More information then became available as cited below.]
Note: It may NOT be easy for Two-Spirit individuals to be proud of their own kind if they have been abused, emotionally harmed, physically assaulted, etc., because they were deemed to be "different" with respect to their sexual orientation or gender non-conformity. There is maybe nothing worse than often hearing one's own people complain about being abused by others for centuries only because they are "different," as related to 'race'! That is, if any Two-Spirit youth wanted to believe in the possibility of a better wider world, what they have experienced on many reservations or elsewhere can be monumentally depressive and even lethal, as in thinking: "No way for a better world! Even my own people have learned absolutely nothing from centuries of being abused just for being different! They will, in turn, also abuse others just for being different!" (Examples) As told to me by an Aberta Two-Spirit adolescent who was very distressed. I first wrote about this problem in a general way in 1993/94. See: The Additional Problems of GLB of Color. Many will also venture into predominantly white gay communities and become even more depressed! They will experience white gay males often complain about having been abused 'just for being different' but also experience them doing the same to others! See: White Racism in Western Predominantly White Gay Communities.
This may apply much more to Aboriginal GLBTTs than other GLBT of Color: Poon, Maurice Kwong-Lai (2005). A Missing Voice: Asians in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian Social Service Literature. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 17(3): 87-106. Abstract: Contemporary gay and lesbian social service literature still heavily focuses on White middle/upper-class issues and uses an isolated and fixed concept of homosexuality. As a result, the discourse has only a limited applicability to people with “dual” or “multiple” identities, accentuating the power of those who control the discourse and the oppression of those with “dual” or “multiple” identities. Using Asians as a case example, I argue that the lack of published articles about Asians in contemporary gay and lesbian social service literature is the result of the different worldviews of Asian and White queers. However, this deficiency is sustained by social structures that are saturated with White middle/upper-class values. Implications of this situation and some directions for social change are discussed.
Greensmith, Cameron (2016). The management of indigenous difference in Toronto's queer service sector. Settler Colonial Studies, 6(3): 252-264. Abstract: While the ‘problem’ and ‘pathological’ logics pinned onto the bodies and minds of Indigenous peoples have been exposed as key contributors to the sustainment of white settler colonialism in Canada, their influence on the practices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) service providers working within queer service provision in Canada has received little scrutiny. This paper, evolving out of the narratives of 41 non-Indigenous LGBTQ research participants, showcases how the biopolitics and necropolitics of settler colonialism percolate within queer service provision in Toronto. I pay particular attention to the narratives of encounters with Indigeneity used to lock Indigenous peoples into ‘deficits’ – used to sustain their invisibility, erasure, and containment. In reviewing the research participants' narratives, this paper calls for a settler colonial analytic within queer service provision in order to start dialogue surrounding individual and practice approaches and the institutional structures that sustain white settler colonialism. Findings highlight the normative practices used by service providers and the ways in which those practices further white supremacist and settler colonial projects.
King et al. (2008). A Systematic Review of Mental Disorder, Suicide, and Deliberate Self Harm in Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People. BMC Psychiatry. Online, Aug 18. 8:70.
Conclusion of Meta-Analysis: LGB people [mostly white] are at higher risk of mental disorder, suicidal ideation, substance misuse, and deliberate self harm than heterosexual people... lifetime prevalence of suicide attempt was especially high in gay and bisexual men (RR 4.28, CI 2.32, 7.88).
Full Text. Full Text. Abstract.
Related AlertThe Paul et al (2002) results - random sampling of 2,882 American homosexually oriented males in 5 cities - indicates that Aboriginal GB males are about 3-times more at risk for having attempted suicide than white GB males (30% vs. 11%). They therefore may be up to 12 times (could be 10-times) more at risk for having attempted suicide compared to white heterosexual males.
The Working Group For A Suicide Prevention Strategy For Nunavut (2009). Qaujijausimajuni Tunngaviqarniq: Using knowledge and experience as a foundation for action A discussion paper on suicide prevention in Nunavut. PDF Download. ":Sexual orientation: Discrimination/intimidation/threats because of sexual orientation. Stress as a result of questioning one’s sexual orientation."
Silence About GLBTTs Issues
LaFromboise (2006). American Indian Youth Suicide Prevention. The Prevention Researcher, 13(3): 16-18. PDF Download.
Halpern P (2009). An American Indian/Alaska Native Suicide Prevention Hotline: Literature Review and Discussion with Experts. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Full Text. PDF Download.
Ristock, J., Zoccole, A., & Passante, L. (2010). Aboriginal two-spirit and LGBTQ migration, mobility and health research project: Winnipeg, Final Report. PDF Download. Related Presentation.
Suicide Issues are mentioned.
Fredette, Gilbert James (2014). Tribulations & tears: stories from the youth of the Norway House Cree Nation. Master's Dissertation, Department of Native Studies, University of Manitoba. Abstract / Download Page. Abstract Excerpt: "By the time this thesis is defended, another noose will tighten, another fatal gunshot will be fired, and another youth will overdose on drugs or another suicide attempt might succeed. For many who manage to escape death, they will continue to face a life of abuse, poverty, and an uncertain future that may lead to a lifetime of incarceration, and premature death. This is the reality for too many youth of the Norway House Cree Nation." Comment: I was once informed that Norway House had a serious youth Two-Spirit / LGBT / Gender Minority suicide problem, but this study is silent on this issue.
Major 'Crime' Alert!
Haas AP, Eliason M, Mays VM, Mathy RM, Cochran SD, D'Augelli AR, Silverman MM, Fisher PW, Hughes T, Rosario M, Russell ST, Malley E, Reed J, Litts DA, Haller E, Sell RL, Remafedi G, Bradford J, Beautrais AL, Brown GK, Diamond GM, Friedman MS, Garofalo R, Turner MS, Hollibaugh A, Clayton PJ (2011). Suicide and suicide risk in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations: review and recommendations. Journal of Homosexuality, 58(1): 10-51. Abstract. Full Text: Open Access. Note: The existence of Aboriginal GLBTTs was not mentioned in this review and this 'feat' was accomplished by misinforming readers about the Paul et al (2002) study results. See the related posts made on 2 message boards: one for researchers of GLBT issues and one for maintream suicidology.
Dorgan, Byron L: Senator, D-ND (2010). The Tragedy of Native American Youth Suicide. Psychological Services, 7(3): 213-218. PDF Download. Two-Spirit Silence?
First Nations & Inuit Suicide Prevention Association of Quebec and Labrador
Are Two Spirit Suicide Issues Being Addressed?
Honouring Life Network (Began in 2008)
Are Two Spirit Suicide Issues Being Addressed?
Kelly. Fred (2007). Traditional and Contemporary Approaches to Youth Suicide Prevention.
National Youth Council, Assembly of First Nations. PDF. Two-Spirit Youth Mentioned.
Andersson N, Ledogar RJ (2008). The CIET Aboriginal Youth Resilience Studies:
14 Years of Capacity Building and Methods Development in Canada.
Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 6(2). PDF. Full Text.
Are Two Spirit Suicide Issues Being Addressed? No?
Aboriginal suicide prevention program not working, survey says (2007).
Maybe, Ignoring "Sexual Orientation Issues" Has Not Been Wise?
Maybe Some Hope? A Canadian 2008 Discussion Paper!
Suicide Survivors Gathering Recap (2010).
Two Spirit (Aboriginal gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) presentation included in
historic hidden legacy conference on impacts of Indian Residential Schools (2011).
Walters KL, et al. (2008). My Body and My Spirit Took Care of Me: Homelessness,
Violence, and Resilience Among American Indian Two-Spirit Men.
In: Health Issues Confronting Minority Men Who Have Sex with Men.
Edited by Sana Loue. New York: Springer. Link to Page 1 Preview. Google Books. Amazon.
Related PowerPoint Presentation: 3.7 megs.
Bowers R (2007). A bibliography on Aboriginal and minority concerns: Identity, prejudice, marginalisation, and healing in relation to gender,
sexuality, and the ecology of place. Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Health, 3(2), Indigenous Special Issue, 46-88. PDF Download N/A - New Link..
Young, native and gay, filmmaker champions inclusion for all N/A. Internet Archive Link.
Adam Garnet Jones honoured for activism. He is writer/director of "Cloudbreaker" film (Scene Excerpt) (List of his films): a story of young boy who runs away from home on a quest for spiritual enlightenment. It is his story. He battled the loneliness and isolation of being an aboriginal gay youth in rural British Columbia. Film premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival to critical acclaim. It is now part of the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Racism. From 2006 Toronto Star Article (Must Scroll): "Making a film about teen suicide may have saved Adam Garnet Jones's life. At 14, the first video he produced in near-primitive conditions gave him a voice and a sense of being heard for this first time in his life. Ten years later, the recent graduate from Ryerson University's film studies program has had his first submission to the Toronto International Film Festival chosen to debut in the Short Cuts Canada program. Only 38 films were selected among almost 600 across the country. "I was a suicidal kid until I was 15," said Garnet Jones,who was raised by a single aboriginal father and struggled with accepting his sexual orientation..."
A place to belong N/A (Internet Archive Link): Two-Spirit movement welcomes discriminated-against native gender-variants.
Two-Spirit Soaring N/A (Archive Link).
Better support needed for Suicide Surfers. - Online suicide support needed:
"Dr Harris said his study involved more than 1000 people from 40 countries, aged from 18 to 74 years. Many had symptoms of depression. The group at the greatest risk of suicide was young gay or bisexual men, because they were in the group least likely to seek face-to-face help from doctors or support services. It led to calls from Dr Harris for support service workers dealing with suicidal people to take a different approach when talking to gay, lesbian and bisexual people..."
The Homosexuality Factor in the Aboriginal Male Youth Gang Problem?
From: Preventing Aboriginal Youth Gang Involvement in Canada: A Gendered Approach.
Paper Presented by Mark Totten at the 2009 Aboriginal Policy Research Conference.
"The final pathway into Aboriginal youth gangs relates to the development of hyper-masculinities and sexualized femininities. Gender identities are malleable traits, constructed and reconstructed daily in social relationships. Dominant and subordinate gender types are the outcome of passive gender role socialization and active negotiation and resistance. Violence is a resource to construct masculinity, and sexuality is a resource to construct femininity. Aboriginal youth are located in very different ‘structural spaces’ compared to all other youth in Canada. Trauma and loss are key factors which drive identity construction. The pain of grief, guilt, stigmatization, and shame defines gender identity for many. For male gang members, the experience of prolonged sexual abuse at the hands of men relates directly to the construction of violent gang identities. Many of these young men who were abused around the time that they reached puberty report having deep-seated fears about their sexual identities. They report feeling responsible for the abuse because they became sexually aroused; many believe that they must be gay because they ‘had sex’ with men. Violence compensates for these threats to heterosexuality (Totten 2000, 2009a, b)."
Note by Webpage Author: This phenomenon could also be associated with suicide problems for these males, as related to both their early abuse related same-sex sexual experiences, their interpretation of their experienced (never forgotten) common positive biological (and possibly psychological) responses to the sexuality experienced, and their likely later-learned intense homophobia that informed them of the implications. When it is said that 'violence compensates for these threats to heterosexuality,' it may also mean that violence is warding off threats that one is possibly NOT as heterosexual as one wants others (and especially oneself) to believe. However, as with many other male youth with same-sex desires, or related suspicions, coming to terms with this inner reality has been associated with suicidality. Avoiding this, for those who can, may include 'logic' such as: "My same-sex desires are not natural. They are the results of the sexual abuse I experienced and I am therefore NOT really gay (or bisexual)!" Another way of avoiding this is to nonetheless still have sex with males while NOT being anything like a female (i.e., being sexually passive) in such situations. This perception has been common in human cultures where being "gay" or "homosexual" for males has only meant "being like a female" when having sex with other males. An Aboriginal counsellor told me in 1993 that the issue addressed above was common with distressed Aboriginal male youth who had a history of being suicidal. Serious multiculturally-based "informed" thought will be required to develop "best practices" when counselling such males... who may also be non-Aboriginal.
Excellent Paper Related to These Issues: Rind B (2013). Homosexual Orientation - From Nature, Not Abuse: A Critique of Roberts, Glymour, and Koenen (2013). Archives of Sexual Behavior. [Epub ahead of print] Abstract.
See Also: A History of the Homosexuality Factor in Male Youth Gangs!
Grant JM, Mottet LA, Tanis J, Herman JL, Harrison J, Keisling M (2010, Full Text. Full Text. Download Page). National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on health and health care. Findings of a Study by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Over 7,000 people responded to the 70 question survey, providing data on virtually every significant aspect of transgender discrimination—including housing, employment, health and health care, education, public accommodation, family life, criminal justice, and identity documents... Lifetime "Attempted suicide" incidence: 41%. By 'Ethnicity': White (38%), Asian (39%), Latino/Latina (44%), African American (45%), Multiracial (54%), American Indian (56%). - Study: Anti-transgender bullying alarmingly high (2010): "Our study participants reported attempting suicide at a rate more than 25 times the national average." Rates of attempted suicide rose dramatically -- to 59 percent -- when the victim’s teacher or professor was the perpetrator of bullying or harassment. Among those who had been physically assaulted by a teacher or professor, 76 percent reported having attempted suicide. "These shocking and disheartening numbers speak to the urgency of ending bullying in our nation’s schools and ending discrimination in our nation’s workplaces.
Qwo-Li Driskill Q-L (2004) (Author Information) (Google Search Results). Stolen From Our Bodies: First Nations Two-Spirits/Queers and the Journey to a Sovereign Erotic. Studies in American Indian Literatures, 16(2): 50-64. Full Text. Full Text.
The term "Two-Spirit" is a word that resists colonial definitions of who we are. It is an expression of our sexual and gender identities as sovereign from those of white GLBT movements... I have seen no study that tells how many Two-Spirit people commit suicide or turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the shame colonization brings to our sexualities and genders. How many Two-Spirit people are forced to leave their families and thus their primary connection to their traditions because of homophobia and transphobia? How many of us grapple with deep shame because of our sexualities and/or genders? Our sexualities harbor bruises left by a white supremacist culture. We find ourselves despising our bodies and sexualities, unable to speak of our own erotic lives and desires even with our lovers. We see dominant culture's concepts of the erotic and know they have nothing to do with our Two-Spirit bodies, often causing us to dissociate from our erotic selves or assimilate dominant culture's concepts into our lives...
It is in our stories, including our written literatures, that I search for meaning and reflection of my Two-Spirit body in order to survive a world in which people like me are routinely killed. How do I make sense of the murder of F. C. Martinez Jr., a Diné/Cheyenne Nádleeh youth killed in June 2001 in Cortez, Colorado? How do I make sense of the February 2002 murder of Amy/Raymond Soos, a Two-Spirit of the Pima Nation whose naked body was found in Phoenix, Arizona? How do I make sense of the strangled and beaten body of Alejandro Lucero, Hopi Nation, whose body was found on March 4, 2002, also in Phoenix? How do I make sense of the slaughter of "Brandon Teena," always spoken of as white, who was actually of mixed "Sioux" and white ancestry, his life erased by transphobic murderers and his Nativeness erased by white Queer and Trans folks?8 How do we as Two-Spirits remain whole and confident in our bodies and in our traditions when loss attempts to smother us? I return to our stories.
8. While he used the names Billy and Brandon, "Brandon Teena" is a name created by activists by switching the first and last names given to Brandon at birth. I learned of Brandon's mixedblood ancestry through an unlikely text, All She Wanted by Aphrodite Jones. The book is widely criticized in Trans communities for its transphobia and sensationalistic "true-crime" style. In a particularly racist passage that at once romanticizes Brandon's Native features and celebrates his light skin and eyes, Jones writes, "Their grandfather on their father's side was a full-blooded Sioux Indian, so Teena . . . was an exotic-looking infant. To JoAnn (Brandon's mother), she almost looked black, even though it was only her hair that was dark. Teena was beautiful, blessed with the bluest Irish eyes" (Jones 29). Besides "Sioux," Brandon's tribal affiliation is not mentioned. All She Wanted is the only book about Brandon's life and murder, and in some ways remains more factual than the highly popular film Boys Don't Cry.
Many two-spirit people leave their communities today, seeking acceptance in urban areas because of homophobia in their home environment. This homophobia, more extreme in some cases than in the dominant society, is directly linked to what was enforced attitudinally through the residential school system and its concomitant warped “teachings.” When two-spirit people arrive in cities, however, they are confronted still with homophobia and the additional harsh realities of racism, unemployment, a lack of familial and community support and often little support from the larger queer community. The result of such realities puts two-spirit people at greater risk for homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency, suicide and contracting HIV and hepatitis C.Teengs DO, Travers R (2006). “River of Life, Rapids of Change”: Understanding HIV Vulnerability among Two-Spirit Youth who Migrate to Toronto. Canadian Journal of Aboriginal Community-Based HIV/AIDS Research, 1: 17-28. Full Text.
A place to belong: Two-Spirit movement welcomes discriminated-against native gender-variants: "“Two-spirit people face homophobia and transphobia from the dominant non-aboriginal culture and from their own communities,” stated the study. “Many two-spirit people are displaced from their home communities and culture; others are forced to lead secretive lives.” Few are likely to face tolerance or acceptance in reserves, the study said, concluding that the emergence of the two-spirit movement, especially as an urban phenomenon, provided a safe space for ostracized natives. The majority of aboriginal people living with HIV/AIDS continue to live in the urban centres of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Fearing rejection and a backlash of AIDS phobia should they return home, they continue to live isolated from their communities for years..."
Deschamps (1998) states: “As two-spirited men, you know there is no room for your life on the reserve. Your sexuality is not tolerated and many men leave to find urban centres where they can express themselves.” In a survey of 658 people in First Nations communities in Ontario, it was reported that “…the majority of respondents felt that homosexuality was wrong, and believed their family and community to support this view” (Myers et al, 1993)...“Turbulent Waters” – Why Two-Spirit Youth Migrate to Toronto - Two-spirit youth recounted many reasons for leaving their home communities, including experiencing oppression, violence and anti-gay discrimination. As one young man succinctly stated “the streets are safer than home” and as one key informant stated “homophobia drives youth away from reserves and other communities.” When faced with this unrelenting storm on a daily basis, youth leave because it is an alternative to suicide – an escape from hopeless situations. “I was tormented all the way until I was in the ninth grade.” (trans mtf – male to female – youth, 22) “I moved here because the reserve that I’m from... they’re totally against gay or bisexual people. I lived pretty much my whole life trying to pretend to be straight. I had enough of it.” (male, 19, bisexual) Parents and siblings were often homophobic, mirroring attitudes present in the broader community. “I had the worst time coming out of the closet in my reserve. They gay-bashed and everything. My family dropped me... my cousins, my friends... basically I was driven off of the reserve.” (male, 25, gay)..."Alcántara C, Gone JP (2007). Reviewing suicide in Native American communities: situating risk and protective factors within a transactional-ecological framework. Death Studies, 31(5): 457-477. Abstract. Full Text. Also as a book chapter: Alcántara C, Gone JP (2008). Suicide in Native American communities: A transactional-ecological formulation of the problem. In F. T. L. Leong & M. M. Leach (Eds.), Suicide among racial and ethnic groups: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 173-199). New York: Routledge. Full Text. List of papers by JP Gone.
For instance, sexual minority status has also been suggested as yet another factor involved in elevated suicide risk zones (Conchran, 2001, in Balsam, Huang, Fieland, Simoni, & Walters, 2004). Results indicate that two-spirit people endorse higher rates of childhood physical abuse, historical trauma, anxiety, depression and PTSD symptoms (with reported greater severity) in comparison to their heterosexual Native counterparts (Balsam et al., 2004). These experiences have been previously identified as risk factors for elevated suicidality. It is thus unsurprising that two-spirit participants report significantly more suicide attempts and suicidal ideation (Barney, 2003).
Abstract: "American Indian gay and bisexual men, specifically those living in North Dakota are a misunderstood and misrepresented group. There are virtually no statistics or subsequent research that have been devoted to this population. By completing this study, we may begin to understand the plight of this stigmatized group. Homosexuality has been a part of traditional American Indian cultures in the past. The researchers will attempt to explore if this has changed in recent times. This will be achieved by interviewing gay and bisexual American Indian males in North Dakota, since so little is known about them.
And we especially need to address the issue of two-spirited people. It's a hard one for our people to accept. That's why a lot of suicides and AIDS happens. From self-hatred.Kirmayer L, et al. (2007). Suicide Among Aboriginal People in Canada. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Ottawa, Ontario. Full Text. Comment: In the very short one-page "Sexual Orientation" section, mostly studies of predominantly white sexual minority youth are cited, with little given to provide any understanding of the possible suicide-inducing life situations that many Two Spirit have been experiencing.
In the section on suicide, the following is written: "Two-spirit Natives are at particularly high risk for suicidality. Monette et al., (2001) found 32% of two-spirit males had attempted suicide. In a study of primarily nonheterosexually identified urban males, AIANs reported a much higher prevalence rate for suicide attempts than the sample overall (30% vs. 12%) (Paul et al., 2002), with AIAN males under the age of 25 years at particular risk (25% had attempted suicide compared to 8% of their non-Native counterparts). Two-spirit women also report significantly greater suicidality than their White GLBT counterparts (Morris et al., 2001). Because both Native (vs. non-Native) youth and GLBT (vs. non-GLBT) youth are at increased risk for suicidality (Safren & Heimberg, 1999; Halpert, 2002) two-spirit youth are particularly vulnerable."
Important Alert! In a study of French Canadian gay males who had attempted suicide Mort ou Fif (Dead Boys Can't Dance), it was reported that some gay men will DREAD the idea that anyone will ever discover their "homosexual" secret! Therefore, they may have have a girlfriend - to make everyone else believe they are 100% (200%?) heterosexual - or "normal" (and they may also have sex with females in a way that others will know of this, again to be considered "normal!" by others = NOT homosexual, gay or a fag!) One gay male with a girlfriend, for example, timed his very serious attempt to end his life immediately after the relationship with his girlfriend had ended so that others would think the "heterosexual" relationship break-up was the reason or cause for his suicide! That is, even after his death, all would surely believe that he was 200% heterosexual. There are likely many dead gay males who, in this way, took their homosexual/gay/Two-Spirit secret to their grave! Unfortunately, to this day, no professional in suicide who mentions that heterosexual relationship break-ups are implicated in male youth suicides had ever caveated this concept by stating what was mentioned above. That some male youth will terminate their lives and also do their best so that no one will ever know the real reason for their suicide - if the cause is related to their non-heterosexual inner desires. This fact remains unresearched and it has yet unrecognized likely monumental implications in male youth suicidology research that includes the higher rates of Native American male youth suicide! (Twice the White Suicide Rate in USA, and Six-Times in Canada!)Inventory of Aboriginal Services, Issues and Initiatives in Vancouver: Two Spirit - LGTB (2007): "Many Two-spirit people cannot live openly as a Two-spirit person in remote Aboriginal communities for fear of their personal safety and public ridicule. For these reasons, many Two-spirit people are forced to leave their home communities to live in larger urban centres where there is a LGBT community that they can ‘fit into’. Even though urban centres are often more welcoming of Two-spirit individuals, there is still widespread homophobia in urban Aboriginal communities, so many of these individuals remain isolated. Aboriginal people in general have a suicide rate 4 – 6 times higher than non-Aboriginal people in Canada, but due to the factors listed above, for Two-spirit individuals the rate is even higher..."
National Association of Friendship Centres (2008). Supporting Two Spirited Peoples: Discussion Paper (PDF Download). "Resolution 07-02: Supporting Two Spirited Peoples mandated the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) to examine issues related to programs and services for Two Spirited Peoples. Specifically, the resolution noted that: - There are a number of Two Spirited people (gay, lesbian, bisexual,transgender and intersex) who have no voice in communities where Friendship Centres exist; - There are an extremely limited number of organizations/agencies in Canada aimed specifically at addressing Two Spirited needs and issues; - Two Spirited people experience and are at a higher risk for suicide, addictions and mental health issues; - Two Spirited peoples within some First Peoples’ cultures had places of honour and responsibility that is not necessarily reflected in modern society... Thanks to a long-standing imposed practices of homophobia and heterosexism, Two Spirit/GLBT people no longer enjoy the respect and status once considered their due by most Aboriginal societies, nor is their situation much better either on reserve or in mainstream Canada. In both settings, they must deal with the rejection and homophobia of their families, friends and communities. At the same time, like heterosexual Aboriginal people residing in urban areas, they must contend with systemic and overt racism expressed by the dominant society, including mainstream gays and lesbians... Two Spirit/GLBT People are generally not a feature of policy and social sciences research and activities. In fact, very little research has been undertaken specific to the physical and mental health issues of Aboriginal Two Spirit/GLBT peoples... Two Spirited people are in urgent need of recognition and assistance. In many respects, they serve as a microcosm of the damage done to Aboriginal communities as a consequence of colonialism and Christianity. Like many Aboriginal communities invisible to mainstream society, Two Spirited people exist on the periphery of Aboriginal society, continually struggling to find acceptance and respect for the many gifts and insights they have to offer. The valuable roles that they played historically must be reasserted to allow them to take their rightful place in Aboriginal communities, whether on or off reserve. The challenge will be for Aboriginal organizations to respond in an innovative and appropriate manner..."
One recommendation is: "Clinicians should: make reminder calls, be especially welcoming... at first session, use their cultural knowledge to establish trust (culture includes not only racial/ethnic group, but also sexual orientation, homelessness, disability, socioeconomic status), devote time to intensive outreach (get contact information from youth and several others involved with their care, and make follow-up calls to emphasize to youth that you care and want to see them again)."Note 1: The report mentions youth and young adult suicide issues many times, but nothing is mentioned about GLBTTs likely being at higher risk for suicidal behaviors, such as attempting suicide, and especially for males as it is now well recognized (Bagley & Tremblay, 2000; McDaniels et al., 2001; King et al., 2008; SPRC, 2008; and others). For example, the results of the Barney (2003) study reporting that Native American gay male adolescents (multiple residential schools sampled) are more at risk for having attempted suicide is not mentioned. Nor is the Paul et al.(2002) study for one of its major results as based on a very large random sample of MSM (men who have sex with men) males in five large American cities. It is reported that American Indian males were 3-times more at risk for having attempted suicide compared to other gay/bisexual males, who were about 3-4 times more at risk compared to white males. This would make American Indian adult MSM males about 9-12 times more at risk for having attempted suicide, compared to their white counterpart.
One mention is: "There is very limited research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and two-spirit Native youth. However, a study of Native American adults who were lesbian, gay, bisexual, and two-spirit found higher rates of childhood physical abuse, more historical trauma in their families, higher levels of psychological symptoms, and more mental health service utilization (Balsam, Huang, Fieland, Simoni, & Walters, 2004)."
Balsam, K. F., Huang, B., Fieland, K. C., Simoni, J. M., & Walters, K. L. (2004). Culture, trauma, and wellness: A comparison of heterosexual and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and two-spirit Native Americans. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 10(3), 287-301. Abstract. Full Text.
In the Paul et al (2002) multi-city random sample of 2,881 MSM males, there were 3% American Indian males (about 86 males), 30% had attempted suicide, with 25% having first attempted suicide before the age of 25 years. In the Walters et al. (2008) study of 244 mostly male sexual minority American Indians from a volunteer multi-city sample (includes 10 female-to-male transsexual individuals) , 24.5% (59/241) reported having attempted suicide. In the Barney (2003) study of American Indian adolescents from multiple schools on reservations, the lifetime attempted suicide incidence for gay identified males is reported to be 23.2%.
Paul et al. (2002) reports that, "in 2 different US population–based studies focused on mental health (the National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area study and the National Comorbidity Survey)... [Weissman et al., 1999] The prevalence levels for lifetime suicide attempts were 1.52% (± 0.19%) and 3.19% (±0.40%), respectively." The average would be about 2.4%. If the lifetime "attempted suicide" incidence for adult sexual minority American Indian males is about 25%, adult sexual minority American Indian males are therefore about 10.4-times (RR: Risk Ratio) more likely to have attempted suicide, compared to the average mostly white adult American males. However, the "Odds" is a better statistic to report risk. As in a casino, one plays the odds! Here, the "Odds" (Odds Ratio) for a sexual minority American Indian males to have attermpted suicide, compared to white males, is 13.6 times.
Bagley C, and Tremblay P (2000). Elevated rates of suicidal behavior in gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. Crisis, 21(3): 111-17. (Review) Internet draft of the paper: Draft: Full Text. PubMed Abstract.
Barney DD (2003). Health Risk-Factors for Gay American Indian and Alaska Native Adolescent Males. Journal of Homosexuality, 46(1/2): 137-157. PubMed Abstract.
King et al. (2008). A Systematic Review of Mental Disorder, Suicide, and Deliberate Self Harm in Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People. BMC Psychiatry. Full Text. Full Text. Abstract.
McDaniel JS, Purcell DW, D'Augelli AR (2001). The relationship between sexual orientation and risk for suicide: research findings and future directions for research and prevention.. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 31(Suppl.): 84-105. (Review) PubMed reference. PDF Download. (Download Page)Paul JP, Catania J, Pollack L, Moskowitz J, Canchola J, Mills T, Binson D, Stall R (2002). Suicide attempts among gay and bisexual men: lifetime prevalence and antecedents. American Journal of Public Health, 92(8): 1338-45. PubMed Abstract. Full Text.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center (2008). Suicide risk and prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Newton, MA: Education Development Center, Inc. Prepared by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for the Center for Mental Health Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Download: http://www.sprc.org/library/SPRC_LGBT_Youth.pdf.
Walters KL, Chae DH, Perry AT, Stately A, Old Person R, Simoni JM (2008). My Body and My Spirit Took Care of Me: Homelessness, Violence, and Resilience Among American Indian Two-Spirit Men. In: Health Issues Confronting Minority Men Who Have Sex with Men. Edited by Sana Loue. New York: Springer. Link to Page 1 Preview. Google Books. Amazon. Related PowerPoint Presentation: 3.7 megs.
Weissman MM, Bland RC, Canino GJ, et al. (1999). Prevalence of suicide ideation and suicide attempts in nine countries. Psychological Medicine, 29: 9–17.
"MSM participants voiced concerns that the Native community was being ignored by the HIV community and that a need existed for Native-specific HIV groups. With respect to sexual behaviors, participants felt comfortable discussing sex with other gay friends but stated that the Native straight community would not be comfortable."More from: Honoring Our Children: Tolerance within the Indian Community by Vivian Arviso (Word Download)
Native people whose gender identify differs are often subject to shaming, a form of social censorship within the tribal community that has survived untouched by European contact. In rural communities without newspaper or radio service, rumor and gossiping remain the prime methods for communication. Shame is rendered for inappropriate social behavior, particularly any personal expression for flamboyant dress, mannerisms and especially effeminate behavior among males. Likewise, shame is given any female whose overt masculine behaviors demonstrate her toughness. In short, tolerance in a contemporary Indian community over the years has evolved to allow no alternatives for a male or female Indian identity. Doing so would be considered to bring shame not just on the individual but also negative attention to their family.
As a result of tribal community pressures, young people who have a different sexual orientation often grow up in a closeted existence or actual isolation. This imposed isolation is self-destructive and limits individuals from living to their fullest potential. In a school environment, many of these young people are subjected to bullying and harassment from their classmates. In this atmosphere, support is generally unavailable and creates an unsafe environment within the school. Nonetheless, there are exceptional gay students who somehow endure and who are accepted as equals by their peers. However, the majority of gay students exhibit behaviors such as skipping school, which affects their academic performance, or simply will become a run away from both home and school...
For the Native LGBT who seeks life in a city for anonymity, the experience can be far more negative than staying within their home community. Like most natives reared in a tribal community, Native LGBT retain pride in their identity, where they are from and who are their relatives. Living in a city can unfortunately give a sense of alienation that is both physical and emotional. Native LGBT individuals often grieve their separation from family and community when they are unaccepted in a city because of their lifestyle as well as being a Native. This experience results in a double discrimination for Native LGBT instead of the desired anonymity...
Most tribal and religious leaders who speak at national conferences about the survival of their tribal communities and culture do not acknowledge the Native LGBT within their society. Ironically, these same leaders seek to reinstitute or revive cultural practices that once strengthened their people. It is highly unfortunate that the same amount of effort has not been applied to recovering traditions of gender diversity. As a result, this shunning of gender diversity makes this one of the greatest discriminatory practices among native peoples...
‘‘I know people who were beat with tire irons’’: Violence and trauma experienced by two-spirit men. All of the men identified high levels of violence exposure in childhood and adulthood, either through witnessing violence or directly experiencing a physical assault or rape. One respondent reflected on the high levels of violence experienced in tribal communities, targeting two-spirit people.
We also have a lot of violence, we have a lot of hatred, hate crimes, a lot of self-hatred, [Indian] people are like oppressing one another and so you get this very high level of tolerance [of violence], it’s like, ok, we’ve got these gay people, these gay people in our communities and. . . I know people who have been beat with tire irons, I know people who have been killed, I know people who, who’s homes have been burned down. . .um, things like that. Dennis ....
I learned hatred here [names city] and I learned about it here. I never knew that back in Oklahoma, but I learned it here. I learned discrimination here, even though we have it back there, it’s a little different, but I learned personal discrimination here. I had people come up and attack me at pow wows here—shove me, try to hit me and stuff, call me faggot and queer, you know? [that] never happened to me back home. Gerry ...
I would hear through the grapevine, through friends of mine who were gay saying did you hear about so and so. . ..they beat him up down at the 49 [after hours pow wow social], and I’d be like really? And I started thinking to myself, who am I to tell them to come out when it would harm them. . .I can’t be around protecting all these people. I protected myself, I could say I’m willing to be out, but I can’t subject anybody to that. Del
“Turbulent Waters” – Why Two-Spirit Youth Migrate to Toronto
Two-spirit youth recounted many reasons for leaving their home communities, including experiencing oppression, violence and anti-gay discrimination. As one young man succinctly stated “the streets are safer than home” and as one key informant stated “homophobia drives youth away from reserves and other communities.” When faced with this unrelenting storm on a daily basis, youth leave because it is an alternative to suicide – an escape rom hopeless situations.
“I was tormented all the way until I was in the ninth grade.” (trans mtf – male to female – youth, 22)Parents and siblings were often homophobic, mirroring attitudes present in the broader community.
“I moved here because the reserve that I’m from... they’re totally against gay or bisexual people. I lived pretty much my whole life trying to pretend to be straight. I had enough of it.” (male, 19, bisexual)
“I had the worst time coming out of the closet in my reserve. They gay-bashed and everything. My family dropped me... my cousins, my friends... basically I was driven off of the reserve.” (male, 25, gay)
Trans-people are often targets of acts of violence and discrimination because of appearing ‘different’. Unfortunately, many people react to this difference in insensitive, discriminatory, and sometimes violent ways. Name calling like: “Hey, Drag Queen! You like being a women, eh?” among other derogatory remarks. There is a lot of fear, misunderstanding, and misdirected words which present challenges that Trans-people negotiate every day. Unfortunately, health care, treatment, support, and prevention programs are often challenges to be negotiated too. This booklet is intended to help you think about how you might be better able to accommodate diversity in your own work...
Because Aboriginal Trans-people are often driven from their communities, shunned by their families, and neglected by community organizations, health services, and even law enforcement, they often feel lonely and isolated. Validating the lived experiences of Trans-people creates safe spaces for conversations that foster understanding. Trans-people want to be able to express themselves with a “feeling of community and an everyday sense of pride [in who they are].” ...
Many Trans-people feel disconnected from their communities and cultures, often at a young age. Sometimes they are shunned or made to feel unwelcome by members of their home community. Others are forced to live secret lives. Few Aboriginal Trans-people find tolerance or acceptance in First Nations communities, where they are often ostracized and can experience physical violence...
Racism in non-Native LGBT communities
Objectification and eroticization as partners (e.g, NYC Pride float “Native” man)Heterosexism in Native communities
Denial of admittance to gay bars
Asked for multiple pieces of identification
Invisibility in LGBT settings
Denial of two-spirit existence and history
Same-sex relations is a “white thing”
Shunning or being kicked/harassed out of communities or ceremonies (e.g., Native woman and Sun Dance)
Avoidance of the topic
Cultural beliefs that same-sex relations are sinful, immoral or against traditions (e.g., uninvited to sweat)
I have just finished reading the following paper:
Haas AP, Eliason M, Mays VM, Mathy RM, Cochran SD, D'Augelli AR, Silverman MM, Fisher PW, Hughes T, Rosario M, Russell ST, Malley E, Reed J, Litts DA, Haller E, Sell RL, Remafedi G, Bradford J, Beautrais AL, Brown GK, Diamond GM, Friedman MS, Garofalo R, Turner MS, Hollibaugh A, Clayton PJ (2011). Suicide and suicide risk in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations: review and recommendations. Journal of Homosexuality, 58(1): 10-51. Abstract.
Abstract: Despite strong indications of elevated risk of suicidal behavior in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, limited attention has been given to research, interventions or suicide prevention programs targeting these populations. This article is a culmination of a three-year effort by an expert panel to address the need for better understanding of suicidal behavior and suicide risk in sexual minority populations, and stimulate the development of needed prevention strategies, interventions and policy changes. This article summarizes existing research findings, and makes recommendations for addressing knowledge gaps and applying current knowledge to relevant areas of suicide prevention practice.
And now for a critique of one part of this paper.....
The following was mentioned in the Haas et al. (2011) paper as related to ethic minorities and suicidality:
"Little is known about the relationship of race/ethnicity and other demographic characteristics to LGB suicidal behavior, largely because the size of the LGB sample obtained in many population-based surveys has been too small to discern significant differences among these LGB subgroups. One study reported suicide attempt rates in LGB adolescents to be especially high among African-American males (Remafedi, 2002). Among adults, suicide attempt rates have been reported to be highest among gay/bisexual men of lower socioeconomic status (Paul et al., 2002) and among LGB Latinos (Meyer, Dietrich, & Schwartz, 2007). In a national probability study of Latino and Asian-American adults (Cochran, Mays, Alegria, Ortega, & Takeuchi, 2007), gay and bisexual men were more likely than heterosexual men to report a recent suicide attempt."
Like most GLBT suicidality studies, I know the Paul et al. (2002) study quite well:
Paul JP, Catania J, Pollack L, Moskowitz J, Canchola J, Mills T, Binson D, Stall R (2002). Suicide attempts among gay and bisexual men: lifetime prevalence and antecedents. American Journal of Public Health, 92(8): 1338-45. PubMed Abstract. Full Text.
I have also been very concerned about Aboriginal GLBTTs suicidality as demonstrated by this issue highlighting my website: http://people.ucalgary.ca/~
ptrembla/- that is titled: "Aboriginal / American Indian / First Nations Two Spirit Information Pages and Suicide Issues"
It is therefore with great sadness that I must report on - as an ongoing tragedy - what seems to be the aboriginal directed racism of the collective that has authored the paper... that I will soon highlight at the above noted web site.
Professionally, "I do expect" authors of such a major review to be able to scan a data table (Table 1) and report the facts, but such was not the case here, so it seems.
The group that had the highest "attempted suicide" rate or incidence were NOT the males with the lowest socioeconomic status (earning less than $20,000.00), but they were "Native American" males.
Here are the variable incidences for "Low Socioeconomic Status" (earning less than $20,000.00) and "Native American Males", respectively: Had Suicide Plan? (33%, 33%) - Attempted Suicide? (22%, 30%) - Attempted before age of 25 (14%, 25%) - Mean Number of Attempts (2.3, 2.8) - Mean Age for First Attempt (23.6 years, 18.2 years).
Not surprisingly, so it seems, there was no mention of Aboriginal people existing in the "at risk" GLBT population being addressed by Haas et al. (2011) under the following names: "Native American" or "American Indian"....
When all indicators would suggest that they would be the most at risk! Also, I suspect, "at risk" for reasons related to the abuses and the racial discrimination they have been experiencing in predominantly white Gay/Lesbian communities. And also to remain at the "greatest risk" because they were not deemed to even be worth mentioning as existing in the GLBT populations, that has now also included the misreporting of the facts made available by Paul et al. (2002) by a group of researchers.
NOTE: The large author group included some who had published on Asian, Latino/Hispanic and African American GLB suicidality issues, and these 'race/ethic' groups were mentioned, but what about "Native American" GLBTTs people? Why was there no author with some expertise on GLBTs Aboriginal issues? And why were "Native Americans" singled out to not be mentioned by name in the ethnic minority section? Or anywhere else?
[What If It Doesn’t Get Better? Queer and Aboriginal Youth Suicide (2010): The messages in my inbox come from mostly by white, progressive friends and are often accompanied by some declaration like, "LGBT youth have the highest suicide rate of any group." This statement that makes me profoundly uneasy, I want to say, "but that's not true." In Canada, where suicide is the second leading cause of death for everyone aged 10 to 24, the Aboriginal youth suicide rate is somewhere between 4 to 6 times that of their peers-it is highest for young men--for LGBT youth the suicide seems to happen at 3 to 4 times the rate of their peers. Figures for the US show roughly the same proportions with a slightly lower suicide rate overall. But I am afraid that pointing this out will be heard as an insult on Queer communities' grief or a white woman talking bad about Aboriginal people. Statistics are incredibly difficult to find and to compare for a host of reasons. The suicide rate is likely underestimated both for Aboriginal and LGBT youth. Many suicides (overdoses, shootings, automobile deaths) are recorded as accidental. Non- status Aboriginal people and those living off reserve are not counted in some studies. Prisoner suicide rates are higher than the rest of the population and Aboriginal people are disproportionately incarcerated in the US and in Canada. Aboriginal people make up a smaller proportion of the population than queers and of course there are Aboriginal kids who are Two Spirited, gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual and gender queer. And after all, how do you know if a dead kid was gay or if he just walked swishy? I have no interest in some mathematical pissing contest over who is dying fastest, but the fact remains that Aboriginal kids are dying by suicide at a rate equal to or exceeding that of queers and nobody is flooding my inbox with pictures of their beautiful dead faces...]
Here is the beginning of a chapter in a book: Walters, K. L.; Chae, D. H.; Perry, A. T.; Stately, A.; Old Person, R.; Simoni, J. M., (2008), My body and my spirit took care of me: Homelessness, violence, and resilience among American Indian two-spirit men, Health Issues Confronting Minority Men Who Have Sex With Men (Google Books), 125-156, Springer Publications, NY.
"Public and scientific discourse on health disparities often fails to consider American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN or ‘‘Natives’’), especially those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (hereafter referred to as ‘‘two-spirit’’)."The paper lived up to what was stated above, so it seems, but what could have motivated such a silence or indifference?
Under the subheading of "Other Risk Factors," the following is written: "Gay and lesbian teens or those with sexual identity issues are a special risk group.31 Aboriginal youth are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than nonaboriginal youth.32
31. About.com [website]. Are gay and lesbian youth at high risk for suicide? Chicago, IL: About.com; 2010. Available from: http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/gayteens/a/gayyouthsuicide.htm. Accessed 2010 Jun 16.
32. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide prevention evaluation in a Western Athabaskan American Indian Tribe—New Mexico, 1988–1997. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1998;47(13):257-61. Medline
For #31, the referenced web page is no longer available, but it is available via the Internet Archive WayBack Machine. The reference given for the information is MIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), but the document being cited or summarized is not given. In the article, Some research problems are mentioned and the following is stated: "In the few studies examining risk factors for suicide where sexual orientation was assessed, the risk for gay or lesbian persons did not appear any greater than among heterosexuals, once mental and substance abuse disorders were taken into account," that essentially states that "gay and lesbian person" are not at greater risk for suicide, these "persons," however, being adults and not "adolescents" (not mentioned) that is the subject of the paper. Although higher levels of adolescent gay, lesbian and bisexual suicidal behaviors is mentioned, the caveats place these results in question. Furthermore, under the guise that sexual minority youth possibly being harmed by school based suicide prevention programs, such possibly helpful prevention programs are not recommended, as apparently they are not recommended for all adolescents. Yet, a Google Search reveals that such adolescent suicide prevention programs do exist, with papers written about them, but it is likely that sexual minority adolescents have generally been ignored in these prevention efforts. The incorrect section that physicians would have accessed for their adolescent suicide related 'education' would have been:
"Because school based suicide awareness programs have not proven effective for youth in general, and in some cases have caused increased distress in vulnerable youth, they are not likely to be helpful for GLB youth either. Because young people should not be exposed to programs that do not work, and certainly not to programs that increase risk, more research is needed to develop safe and effective programs."
The NIMH document that was being cited at the "About.com" website was not only in part out of date, but it was withdrawn from the NIMH website by 2004: NIMH (1999). Full Text. "Frequently Asked Questions about Suicide" Available to 2004. Full Text.The document states:
"Are gay and lesbian youth at high risk for suicide?
With regard to completed suicide, there are no national statistics for suicide rates among gay, lesbian or bisexual (GLB) persons. Sexual orientation is not a question on the death certificate, and to determine whether rates are higher for GLB persons, we would need to know the proportion of the U.S. population that considers themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual. Sexual orientation is a personal characteristic that people can, and often do choose to hide, so that in psychological autopsy studies of suicide victims where risk factors are examined, it is difficult to know for certain the victim’s sexual orientation. This is particularly a problem when considering GLB youth who may be less certain of their sexual orientation and less open. In the few studies examining risk factors for suicide where sexual orientation was assessed, the risk for gay or lesbian persons did not appear any greater than among heterosexuals, once mental and substance abuse disorders were taken into account.
With regard to suicide attempts, several state and national studies have reported that high school students who report to be homosexually and bisexually active have higher rates of suicide thoughts and attempts in the past year compared to youth with heterosexual experience. Experts have not been in complete agreement about the best way to measure reports of adolescent suicide attempts, or sexual orientation, so the data are subject to question. But they do agree that efforts should focus on how to help GLB youth grow up to be healthy and successful despite the obstacles that they face. Because school based suicide awareness programs have not proven effective for youth in general, and in some cases have caused increased distress in vulnerable youth, they are not likely to be helpful for GLB youth either. Because young people should not be exposed to programs that do not work, and certainly not to programs that increase risk, more research is needed to develop safe and effective programs."
Given that, by 2010, numerous studies, review papers, and meta-analyses on the suicidality of sexual minority people were available (Related Webpage), what was offered by Kostenuik & Ratnapalan (2010) is somewhat shameful and likely reflects a complete indifference to a minority group that had been historically hated, vilified and discriminated against in Canada. A similar indifference - meaning 'we could not be bothered to seek relevant information' - applied for aboriginal youth in Canada who have also been severely discriminated against. At best for them, they report information only on American aboriginal youth, and even misreport the information given in the referenced paper's abstract. That is, the "Aboriginal youth are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than nonaboriginal youth" is for "American" aboriginal people for all ages from 1979 to 1992, as noted in the abstract. American aboriginal youth (ages 15-24 years) would have this risk factor given the suicide rate information located in the abstract: 31.7 (aboriginal) / 13.0 (others) = 2.4 higher suicide risk factor from 1991 to 1993. Most vexing about this reporting, however, is the authors' apparent complete ignorance about the Canadian aboriginal youth greater suicide risk that is much higher than for the American counterparts (6 to 7 times higher than it is for other youth, from 1990 to 1994), given that their paper is published in the peer reviewed "Canadian Family Physician" journal. References: PDF Download. PDF Download. Webpage: Reporting both American and Canadian aboriginal suicide data. That is , Canadian physicians have been made to believe that Canadian aboriginal youth are only about 1.5 times at greater risk for suicide when the greater risk is more likely 6- to 7-times on average, with variations to be noted.
The Over-Representation of North American Aboriginal Youth in Suicide Statistics.
The Over-Representation of North American Aboriginal Youth in Street Youth Populations
The Likely Over-Representation of Street Youth in Youth Suicide Statistics
The Over-Representation of Sexual Minority Youth* in Street Youth Populations.
The Sexual Minority Youth* Higher Risk for Suicidality in Street Youth Populations.
Aboriginal GBTT-s Males Are More At Risk For Suicidality Than Other Aboriginal Males & White GBT Males.
American Indian Male (Female) Suicidality: A Higher Risk For Having Attempted Suicide.
American Indian / First Nations Male/Female Youth Suicide Rates: A Higher Risk for Suicide.
Information Excerpts on Terms Such as "Two Spirit" - "Two Spirited" - "Berdache" - "Winkte" - "Nadleeh" - etc.
North American Aboriginal / American Indian / First Nations GLBT-s Internet Resources.
Aboriginal & Sexual Minority Over-Representation In Street Youth Population. Higher Suicidality Risk For Street Youth. Highest Suicidality Risk for Sexual Minority Street Youth.
Vancouver's MSM Vanguard Cohort, Montreal's MSM Omega Cohort & Vancouver's VIDUS Cohort (Injection Drug Users): Aboriginal & Sexual Orientation Related Results... Suicidality, Sexual Abuse, Sex Trade...
“Indigenous Fantasies and Sovereign Erotics: Outland Cherokees Write Two-Spirit Nations” by Lisa Tatonetti, Kansas State University
“Queer Ayetl’: Cherokee GLBTQ/Two-Spirit People and the Reimagining of Nation” by Qwo-Li Driskill, Michigan State University
“American Indian Cultural Conservative Homophobia, Cultural Compromise and Two-Spirit Men” by Brian Joseph Gilley, University of Vermont
“Locating ‘Settler Sexuality’: Queer Politics, Cultural Citizenship and Appropriations of Two-Spirit” by Scott Morgensen, Macalester College
“Decolonizing the Queer Native Body: Bringing ‘Sexy Back’ and Out of the Native Studies’Closet” by Chris Finley, University of Michigan