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The indigenous doctor helping Canada’s trans youth
Credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation
Alberta, Canada. Doctor James Makokis identifies as “two-spirit” – a term used by and for indigenous LGBT+ people in North America who identify with both masculinity and femininity, and which harks back to pre-colonial third gender roles. On the First Nations reservation of Kehewin Cree Nation, Dr Makokis spends much of his working life supporting other “two-spirit” people, particularly transgender teenagers, many of whom face persecution within their own communities.
One patient Alec, has been seeing the Doctor for a month now and is in the early stages of transitioning from female to male. In addition to hormone therapy the treatment sees Dr Makokis utilise traditional indigenous teachings, drawing Alec away from depressive feelings and towards self-acceptance. This sense of inclusivity and belonging is encapsulated by a two-spirit sweat and talking circle hosted by Dr Makokis. Two-Spirit attendees share their stories in the warmth of a teepee and a new community is formed.
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