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In Cree, for example, “aayahkwew” means “neither man or woman.” In Inuktitut, “sipiniq” means “infant whose sex changes at birth.” In Kanien’keha, or Mohawk language, “onón:wat” means “I have the pattern of two spirits inside my body.”

Had it been possible, Andy would have opted for gender-neutral pronouns since age 10. “I spent many years of my life feeling different.

“Today my grandma just calls me ‘noozhis,’ which means ‘grandkid,’ or by my nation name, which is ‘Waasegiizhigook,’ meaning ‘the light that shines through the clouds.’ She really takes out all the gendered stuff for me, which I really like.”

This gesture represents a slight shift in human consciousness, Andy says, as well as signalling a returning to the Anishinaabemowin way of seeing people for who they are as spiritual beings.

For Andy, changing language is about shifting an entire social structure.

“There’s so much potential in revitalizing Indigenous languages that have the power to shift how you think about the language you are using in English...”

Indigenous languages recognize gender states not even named in English - The Globe and Mail

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