Two Spirits Trailer (2010)

Trailer for the documentary Two Spirits.

Two Spirits tells a nuanced story of what it means to be poor, transgendered, and Navajo, and examines the lives of Fred Martinez, his friends, family, the police, and those in the larger community who were most affected by his murder.

The documentary explores Fred’s short and compelling life, his terrible death, and his enduring legacy—one that has led to renewed resolve by many people of the several cultures of the Four Corners region not only to accept diversity, but to honor it, and to help ensure that people are free to express the totality of who they are. Two Spirits demonstrates that we have much to gain from making our communities safe for people like Fred Martinez and it poses the question asked by his grieving mother, “Why are people killed for being who they are?”

The narrative is grounded in the events foreshadowing the murder, the horrible reality of what happened on a night when one boy bludgeoned another with a large rock, then bragged to friends that he had "bug-smashed a fag," and the police work that brought the killer to justice. But the larger ambition of Two Spirits is to reach beyond an account of violence and hatred to explore issues of gender, sexuality, and spirituality in compelling ways.

When, in adolescence, Fred began to express himself in newly feminine ways, his mother and other members of his family understood who Fred was based on their traditional Navajo beliefs. They felt pride in his being gifted with a deep understanding of the duality of the human experience, believing that, as a nadleeh, he would live a rich and expressive life. Fred self-identified as a gay male and commonly used the name Fred, as well as "F.C." He also expressed a wonderfully feminine aspect of his truest self in the way he dressed and presented himself, and sometimes wanted to be called Beyoncé, in honor of his favorite singer. Since the concept of nádleehí transcends limited categorization, it is likely that had Fred lived, he would have continued to describe himself as nádleehí—a spiritual, sexual, and gender identity that would have continued to provide him with a dignified sense of his history and a hopeful view of his future.

2 min 26 sec


Posted On
February 22, 2010
Lydia Nibley

Lydia Nibley


February 6, 2010
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