Prizm News / July 1, 2018 / By Ian Argo

(Correction: In the July issue of Prizm, we listed the wrong preferred pronouns for M.Carmen Lane. Carmen prefers to be referred to as Carmen.)

M. Carmen Lane

Home: Cleveland
Identifies As: Two-Spirit
Pronouns: “I do not have a preferred gender pronoun. If asked, the word to use is Carmen.”

“I was born in Kahyonh:ake, the western territory of the Haudenosaunee,” Carmen Lane says before adding that it’s a place you might know as Cleveland.

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The artist, consultant, curator and writer has a few other identifiers that might need further explanation, too.

Carmen is two-spirit, which is a non-binary indigenous person who, throughout history, has held special cultural roles in their tribes. Carmen also is a doula, which is someone who helps mothers welcome their newborns into the world and helps the dying as they leave this life.

On being Cleveland’s only non- binary, two-spirit doula:

“I’m a queer person of color so I’m used to being the only. One of the advantages of living at the edge of many intersections is a keen insight into multiple communities, and I am clear that the increase in non-binary, gender non-confirming doulas is good for everybody. Western thinking about gender is not only oppressive to folks walking around in grown bodies, it deeply impacts one’s entry into this world. It impacts infant and maternal mortality. How we enter matters. Through a project I’ve founded, ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative Leadership, we are collaborating…to offer a people of color-only, gender- inclusive doula training in Cleveland.”

On the meaning of two-spirit:

“A two-spirit person is someone who is Indigenous and has the qualities of male and female, masculine and feminine as a part of who they are and in relationship to their purpose and responsibilities as a human being. … It doesn’t simply mean a Native person that is gay or transgender. The word two-spirit, for me, has a temporal aspect to it. It acknowledges, binds and bridges past, present and future—that we will exist after this world is over.”

On our community:

“I’ve seen a lot of shit as someone who came out over 20 years ago, things coming around again. I’ve become a curmudgeon queer in the non-Native LGBT vernacular of who we say we are, not who we could be. My irritation at, for example, the mainstream LGBT community got me interested in change. Not just policy, structural blah blah. I got interested in the deep work, the excruciating but transformative moments of actual connection. This leads to clear, actionable and sustainable change—of course, if you’re willing to find out what your part in the mess is.”

Photo by Ian Argo, Argonian Photography

One of Us is a monthly portrait celebrating the diversity of Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community.

Bob Vitale
A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, Bob has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.