I’m a Transgender powwow dancer. I want to talk to my grandma about wearing regalia…How can I handle this?

I’m a Transgender powwow dancer. I want to talk to my grandma about wearing regalia that fits my identity, but I don’t want to disgrace my tribe, or my family. How can I handle this?

Thank you for writing in. This was a tough question that I have been playing over and over in my mind, which I’m sure you have been doing as well.

It started to get really complicated for me pretty quickly, thinking not only about my tribe, but also thinking about what other tribe’s perspectives on transgender dancing might be.

So, I sat with it for a while, then held it very loosely in my mind. Then these words found me:

To dance is to pray
To pray is to heal
To heal is to give
To give is to live
To live is to dance

-Mari Jo Moore, Cherokee

And I thought that I could not have put it any better for you. Now how do you go about talking to your grandma?

Before you talk to your grandma:

  • Get Support – having other folks with whom you can share experiences could help you overcome your fears about coming out and living out in the open with an identity that fits you. See if there is a local LGBTQ scene that you can become a part of. Getting online is another great place to get support. Check out this guide to coming out. There won’t be a section on powwow dancing, but you’ll get some ideas. 🙂
  • Find an Ally – Know someone who might back you up? Whether you choose to talk to your grandma now, or later, this person is vital to have on your side now. They can also help you if you run into any issues when you start dancing again.
  • Pick a location – once you’ve reached out the LGBTQ community and you’re feeling more confident, think of a neutral place to talk to your grandma. Some place that’s out of earshot of other family members.
  • Feel it Out – Sometimes it can be hard to gauge exactly how someone feels about LGBTQ issues, so you might want to feel her out first.You could say something like, So what do you think about gay marriage?

However the conversation goes, keep in mind that there is a warm welcoming and supportive community out there for you. If times get tough, reach out.

Also, from talking to my powwow friends, they told me they are seeing more and more transgender dancers and have seen LGBTQ couples dancing the owl dance together. There are also two-spirit powwows you can check out, just get online.

For more inspiration, check out the It Gets Better Project, or Native Youth Sexual Health Network for more support.

When you begin to live a life that is authentically yours, one that is of respect and integrity, you will gain the confidence needed to know that you cannot be a disgrace. Know this and understand this to your core and no one can take that from you.

I hope this inspires you to dance freely, to feel closer to the creator, to heal your wounds, to give those who watch you pride and joy, so that you may live life as you were meant to.

Auntie Manda

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