“Virtually all Native American tribes subscribe to the idea of more than two genders, encompassing identities such as women born as men and vice versa, as well as homosexual, pansexual, and asexual people and the like. ‘Two Spirit’ is most closely analogous to ‘transgender,’ but it’s not a direct synonym and should not be used in this case, as many Two Spirits take exception to being lumped under, or appropriated by, the term ‘transgender.’ So that word’s out.
“Back in the day, Two Spirits were referred to as berdache. This is a term that absolutely nobody should ever, ever use, as its origins are somewhere between the French word for ‘male prostitute’ and the Persian word for ‘slave.’ You’ll find it a lot in old literature on the subject, but that word’s definitely out.
“Earlier online drafts of this entry used the terms ‘male-bodied’ and ‘female-bodied,’ which some find troublesome, so those are out too. Subsequent drafts used ‘biologically male-sexed,’ which some still didn’t like. The preferred term as of this writing is ‘assigned male/female at birth’—which, unfortunately, may not be accurate in this case. Not all native tribes assign gender at birth (some wait as late as four years old), and there’s no evidence that Osh-Tisch was ever assigned male by her tribe. However, given that most native children were assigned gender at birth, it seems reasonable to use that language.”