Submitted by: Raven Herold

Hi there,

my legal name is Shayla Herold, but I am starting to go by Wolfgang Raven Herold, typically being called my middle name, Raven. I identify as a queer, Two-Spirited person. Although I tend to present rather androgynous, I am on a waiting list to start testosterone to lean more towards someone who physically has traits of both a person born female and a person born male. I want to be seen as someone who you can’t tell if they are born either way but also be able to present as a cis man if I have to when I travel with my nonbinary partner, who can present as a cis female, for our safety. 

I knew little to nothing about my Indigenous heritage growing up. I was raised in a strict German household, since my mom experienced a lot of abuse from her indigenous father, she embraced her German culture and my father being from Germany. I was only told when I was about eleven or twelve years old. Even then, I was not introduced to any elders until my basic military training in Esquimalt, BC. The program was called RAVEN, one of the reasons my name is now Raven. At that program, I learned a lot more of the teachings since I knew few. At the time I identified as a transman, but wasn’t open about it out of fear of being kicked out of the military or assaulted from other military staff for being a trans person. Most of my questions to my elders, as I followed them around like a puppy, was about how the indigenous community saw trans people, my elders explained Two-Spirited people to me and I said it couldn’t be me. They never pushed me into it but did smile when I explained my experience in a sweat lodge. 

The first time I was in a sweat lodge was during RAVEN. I was in the first group of people to do it, surrounded by my new friends and elders, I saw two dancing lights. One being a pinkish colour and the other being blue. They swirled and twirled, almost like they were dancing around the lodge as I watched in amazement. After we all exited, my friends and I compared our experience. I realized that none of them experienced anything even similar to me. When I asked my elders, they asked me to try to figure it out on my own because they can’t guide me through everything, especially something so personal. That was the moment I finally saw that those two lights were my two spirits, literally dancing in unison together. 

Since then, I’ve tried to meet other Indigiqueer or Two-Spirited people to see if anyone else has experienced what I have, or if that was something individual to me. I do find it fascinating how different people figure out their sexuality and gender in different ways. I was just lucky enough to see it directly in front of me. 

Now, I blend both Indigenous practice with my Germanic practice to make my own branch of Paganism. I also feel like that has helped me see that so many cultures have something similar to Two-Spirited people, just calling them a different name. Everyday I learn more about myself and my history. I was shocked as my brother gave me a pride pin for Christmas this year as the rest of my family is homophobic. It’s nice to see change within my family and that I have support from my family, even if it’s not my parents. I do hope in time that they will see how much happier I am identifying as a Two-Spirited person, but for now, the milestone of my brother’s support means an awful lot to me. 

Thank you for hearing my story of how I found out about my Two-Spirited identity.