Two Spirits, But Not Two Genders

Fred Martinez, Jr.

Fred Martinez, Jr.

Fred Martinez was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. He was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16.

Two Spirits explores the life and death of this boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender.

Independent Lens: Two Spirits
Air: Sunday, June 19, 10:30pm, WOSU TV
June 22, 4:00am, WOSU TV

The Navajo believe that to maintain harmony, there must be a balanced interrelationship between the feminine and the masculine within the individual, in families, in the culture, and in the natural world.

A clip from the film:

A bit about The Mattachine Society, founded in 1950, one of the earliest homophile organizations in the United States. Harry Hay and a group of Los Angeles male friends formed the group to protect and improve the rights of homosexuals.

Cortez Journal Online June 4, 2002

Despite a promise to make an effort to change his life for the betterment of his family, Shaun Murphy was sentenced to 40 years in prison in the beating death of Fred C. Martinez Jr.

“I don’t ask you for absolution,” Murphy told Judge Sharon Hansen at the conclusion of a hearing in district court. “That is why I’ve made my plea, because I know my actions have caused a life to be taken in an unfortunate tragedy.” He maintained that the beating had been in self-defense, saying that “the onset of anger took over,” and begging Hansen to “see me as a human being who has made a terrible mistake.”

Murphy had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Martinez, an openly gay or transgendered 16-year-old boy whose body was discovered south of Cortez on June 21, 2001. A Crimestoppers tip first implicated Murphy. Subsequent investigation revealed that he had apparently boasted, “I beat up a fag,” to friends.

“There is no way I can ever feel better, except to have my son back,” Martinez’s mother, Pauline Mitchell, told the Journal after the sentencing. “The apology that he (Murphy) said — I just feel that’s something he had to say. The crying that they’re (Murphy’s family) doing — see how I felt when that happened to my son.”