J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy who is now running for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, tried to make fun of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for “inventing” new terms to describe LGBTQ people’s identities.
“I’m sorry but what the hell is two-spirit?” Vance asked in a tweet. “Would love if progressives just stopped inventing words.”
Instead, he only earned himself ridicule because two-spirit isn’t a recently invented term but an identity important to Native American and Indigenous people that was first defined in English decades ago.
Vance was tweeting in response to Ocasio-Cortez, after she responded in a series of tweets to the Daily Mail when it made fun of her for using the term “menstruating people” instead of “women.”
“Not just women!” the Congresswoman tweeted. “Trans men & non-binary people can also menstruate. Some women don’t menstruate for many reasons, including surviving cancer that required a hysterectomy.”
“GOP mad at this are protecting the patriarchal idea that women are most valuable as uterus holders.”
She also called on people to remember that “trans, two-spirit, and non-binary people have always existed and will always exist,” ending her second tweet with rainbow flag and trans flag emoji.
Trans, two-spirit, and non-binary people have always existed and will always exist.
People can stay mad about that if they want, or they can grow up ✌🏽🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 8, 2021
Vance, hoping to get any political capital he can before the crowded primary in May 2022, attacked Ocasio-Cortez’s pro-LGBTQ message.
“I’m sorry but what the hell is two-spirit?” he asked instead of just googling the term. “Would love if progressives just stopped inventing words.”
I’m sorry but what the hell is two-spirit? Would love if progressives just stopped inventing words. https://t.co/QfxM0GRhQX
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) September 8, 2021
As the Human Rights Campaign notes in a 2020 post, “Research shows that more than 150 different pre-colonial Native American tribes acknowledged third genders in their communities.” North American Indigenous people were identifying beyond the gender binary long before Europeans reached the Americas, just as many indigenous tribes around the world did.
Even the government which Vance is hoping to become part of and regulate has a definition for two-spirit people. “Traditionally, Native American two-spirit people were male, female, and sometimes intersexed individuals who combined activities of both men and women with traits unique to their status as two-spirit people,” the Indian Health Service (IHS) website states. “In most tribes, they were considered neither men nor women; they occupied a distinct, alternative gender status.”
Some Native American tribes welcomed LGBTQ relationships or identities before European colonizers forced them to adapt to Western ideas of gender and sexuality.
Still, much of Native American culture and heritage has remained and the term two-spirit has come to encompass the varying terms for LGBTQ identities that existed in North American Indigenous tribes previously.
Twitter gave Vance a quick history lesson on the basics, not that he’s likely to learn anything.
Vance also mocked Pete and Chasten Buttigieg for their lack of children earlier this year, saying they’re without “a personal and direct stake” in America. He also included Ocasio-Cortez in that attack.
Might want to read up on Native American history, JD. https://t.co/JavznbPSxo
— Michael VanDam (@mjvandam) September 8, 2021
“Two-spirit” refers to a person who identifies as having both a masculine & a feminine spirit, and is used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity."
The term is a translation of the Anishinaabemowin term niizh manidoowag, two spirits.
— Sabe Penn (@CitiBE) September 8, 2021
You don't even have one spirit so dont worry about it.
— Angie Waggoner (@apluswaw) September 8, 2021
"Two-spirit" specifically refers to people participating in Native American spiritual rituals, so I think your "clever" observation is just wrong.
— Tom Dibble (@tdibble) September 8, 2021
You guys keep self identifying as ‘patriots’ which is far more ridiculous than ‘two-spirit’ and I have no idea what that is…
— Ludog (@Ludog9) September 8, 2021
All words are invented.
— Seth A Quimby (@TeamQuimbyNH) September 9, 2021
— Lu is my best friend (@Nate_Housley) September 9, 2021
If you live in Ohio, make sure you're taking note of this person who wants to represent you, yet can't seem to figure out he can Google things for himself and learn about traditions that are different than what he himself has experienced. https://t.co/fpVL0v20FQ
— The Classical Ideas Podcast (@Classical_Ideas) September 9, 2021