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Essay Nonfiction Social Sciences

Coming to Terms with Navajo “nádleehí”: A Critique of “berdache,” “Gay,” “Alternate Gender,” and “Two-Spirit”

By Carolyn Epple, 1998

In this article I assess what premises underlie the categories berdache, “alternate gender,” “gay,” and “two-spirit”; and whether these premises are relevant to the ways in which many Navajos construct the “alternate gender” of those known as nádleehí. Proponents of these categories often extricate traits from their contexts and perceive male and female as mutually opposed, absolute values. Many Navajos, however, describe traits as inseparable from the universe and view male and female as situational values. [Native American, Navajo, gender, sexuality, worldview]

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