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Berdache refers to a two-spirited person in Native American culture. The berdache has both masculine and feminine qualities. In its modern usage, it has become an umbrella term to refer to gender-variant people. In traditional Native American culture, however, these two-spirited persons make up what were considered the third and fourth genders: the masculine female and the feminine male.
While modern bias may view two-spiritedness as an inferiority, traditional Native American culture regards the berdache highly. They were considered important institutions by the different tribes, and held spiritual roles. By reclaiming the term, LGBT activists, especially those with Native American lineages, are reminding people of the acceptance and respect that gender non-conforming people deserve.
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