Prior to contact with Europeans, California Indigenous peoples maintained a culture of three genders: male, female, and joya. Spanish missionaries and soldiers, however, viewed joyas as practicing “the execrable, unnatural abuse of their bodies” and reported that “we place our trust in God and expect that these accursed people will disappear with the growth of the missions. The abominable vice will be eliminated to the extent that the Catholic faith and all the other virtues are firmly implanted there, for the glory of God and the benefit of those poor ignorants.” I argue that what Spaniards saw as a religious duty was actually a form of gendercide, the destruction of an entire third gender, and explore the various strategies employed to accomplish this gendercide. Ultimately, this gendercide—while severely destructive to both joyas and the indigenous community—was unsuccessful, and I further argue that we are experiencing a renaissance of joyas in the form of two-spirited indigenous peoples.

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