Two-Spirit Author Joshua Whitehead Withdraws from Lambda Literary Awards Shortlist

Joshua Whitehead’s book of poetry, “Full-Metal Indigiqueer” had been shortlisted for this years esteemed Lambda Literary award for Transgender poetry. Whitehead, who describes himself as “An Oji-Cree, Two-Spirit storyteller and academic,” hales from Peguis First Nation on Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba. Peguis First Nation is the largest First Nations community in Manitoba, Canada. He is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Indigenous literature and cultures at the University of Calgary on Treaty 7 territory.

Joshua Whitead

“I see my trans brethren and sistren who have paved the way for the trans categorizations to be included, recognized, honoured, and valued within Lambda, and only recently may I add, and I love them all the more for it. To be a trans woman, and furthermore to be an Indigenous trans woman, is a fight I do not know, cannot know, and do not seek to further violate and delimit.”

The Lambda Foundation was founded back in 1988. Since then, the organization has honored David Ebershoff’s 2000 book “The Danish Girl,” which became the Oscar winning film of the same name, as well as honoring countless other LGBT literature with it’s coveted award.

“ Lambda’s categorizations do not require storytellers to self identify and instead base their nomination on content, this is not something I feel comfortable with. I need to walk through the world in a good way, to work towards miyopimatisowin, the good life, a good way of living. My stories are not written within a vacuum, I am simply an animated avatar, my stories are communal, reciprocal, gifted, pained, and healing. I need to walk my path as an otâcimow in this light, to be ethical, respectable, and most importantly, to give back to those who have supported, raised, and nurtured my voice — many of whom are trans women.”

What an incredible human being. Truly an example above all others, a selfless act that demonstrates his awareness of the importance of Trans voices in literature, along with his own, because in chorus we are stronger. While I’d like to believe anyone in Whitehead’s position would have done the same, I am not that optimistic, which just makes his missive all the more poignant.

Actor, Filmmaker, LGBTQ+ & Women’s Rights Activist All work copyright

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