A Two Spirit Youth Journey: Kieran Davis

Kieran Davis didn’t know what being transgender meant until they were 13-years-old when they listened to a speaker at a youth empowerment event in Thunder Bay. That’s when they discovered a whole range of gender identities, and that it was possible to exist outside the gender they knew.

“I questioned myself until then, but I started exploring when I cut my hair off and I met a lot of other queer people that allowed me to feel safe to be who I am and express myself in the ways that I felt,” recalled Davis.

At 15, they came out as a transgender male. Their decision was met with both acceptance and ignorance from their community.

“There are a lot of small-minded people from where I’m from and with that I got a lot of backlash and a lot of people telling me that I was still a girl, or I’ll still always be a woman, or just because of what’s underneath my pants, doesn’t mean that I’m not a woman or not a man. I’m neither.

“I know myself and so by being myself, no one can tell me different.”

Fortunately, Kieran felt safe being who they were. Family and friends were welcoming and accepting of their changes – despite hurdles such as using correct pronouns and understanding the concept of transgender. Kieran add that their family went above and beyond in creating an accepting environment for Kieran and others.

“I felt safe enough to be who I was,” they said.

While in high school, Sioux Lookout started a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Club and Kieran was introduced to a lot of gender and sexuality resources. When Kieran joined, they were an ally to the community and hadn’t come out yet. Within this community, Kieran gained more insight into themselves.

“It was a club that I joined when I was an ally to the Community before I had actually come out and those people made me feel safe and educated on who I am and the feelings that I had towards myself were all coming together through their education and resources that they provided.”

Despite having access to resources through Sioux Lookout’s GSA, Kieran felt the cultural aspect was missing. A lack of two-spirit resources and teachings meant that Kieran could not explore the cultural aspect of their gender and sexual identity until after high school.

Now, 21, Kieran, who is originally from Lac Seul First Nation and a current resident of Sioux Lookout, supports and advocates for other Indigenous youth exploring their gender and sexual identities. Part of their work includes working for Grand Council Treaty 3 and its 2SLGBTQIA+ Council, which allowed Davis to gain two-Spirit teachings and knowledge from the two-spirit Elders, teachers, and knowledge keepers.

Kieran has also sat on the Ontario First Nations Young Peoples, the Ontario Youth Council, and advocating and speaking up at the Assembly of First Nations gathering in December 2022. Davis is also the co-host of a podcast called When the Frogs Sleep, which was nearly a dozen episodes since launching February 2023.

Kieran said adults should listen to the youth to better support their growth and development by allowing them to explore their preferences through how they dress and the activities in which they choose to participate.

Kieran also recommends for youth to go label-free: “You don’t need to pick a label. You don’t need to decide one day I’m this and then the next feel something totally different. Gender is very fluid.”

To hear Kieran’s full interview, including a story about an incident they experienced in the bathroom at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly in December 2022, listen here.

“(The Chiefs) need to hear us. They need to listen to us because they can’t decide for us while they’re out making decisions. We have to be there helping them with those decisions.”