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Fa'afafine

Samoan PM: “Trans People Rock The Casbah”

“You are adamant that you are a special gender, That is why some of you have spent considerable money on special operations. Every year you all look very different. Blonde hair, glossy lipstick sporting Gucci handbags and us men continue to be taken in by your looks. It is only your thick muscular carves, bulked up after years of playing rugby, that give you away. But it is not your will that you are the way you are. You are just another shining example of the glorious miracles and creations of our Lord. I applaud you on your charity work in our communities and may you continue to pursue it. I also applaud you on your pursuit of your human rights and I encourage you to be vocal on any issue that touches, encroaches on your rights.”

– Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegao speaking to Fa’afafine, biological males who have a strong feminine gender orientation in Samoan culture.

By:           Daniel Villarreal
On:           Jul 1, 2011
Tagged: , , ,
  • 9 Comments
    • Steve
      Steve

      How is it that all of these little, tiny countries are so understanding and accepting and supportive and yet countries founded in a war for freedom can’t even accept that some people are different?

      I applaud the prime minister for vocally supporting a minority which, even today, doesn’t get the recognition they deserve.

      Jul 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ogre Magi
      Ogre Magi

      @Steve: Polynesian culture is traditionally quite tolerant of homosexuality

      Jul 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Laughriotgirl
      Laughriotgirl

      @Steve: Samoa has a long pre-colonial tradition of
      honoring trans* and gender variant people. Unlike India, Thailand, and Indonesia the Samoans did not adopt the legal or cultural traditions of European Colonists.

      Also, I really love what the PM said.

      Jul 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Atlas
      Atlas

      Those are some ugly ass ladies, but it’s awesome the PM is so approving of them.

      Jul 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eric
      Eric

      On the contrary, homosexuality is expressly illegal in the criminal code of Samoa, punishable by up to 7 years in prison.

      Jul 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ogre Magi
      Ogre Magi

      @Eric: Note I said traditionally

      Jul 2, 2011 at 10:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kelly
      Kelly

      Fa’afafine does not equate with homosexuality and shouldn’t indicate that the culture is tolerant of it as it is defined there. Fa’afafine are seen as a feminine third gender, and men who are involved with fa’afafine are essentially seen a straight (it is also unusual for fa’afafine to be involved romantically with one another). It is true that the culture is more tolerant of transgender, but it may also be that people who do not fit within the three-gender system there are not as tolerated…similar to the way people in the USA may face discrimination for not fitting the two-gender system.

      That being said it is still awesome that the pm is supporting the minority, don’t get me wrong.

      Jul 3, 2011 at 2:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hamoboy
      Hamoboy

      Fa’afine means basically “in the way of a woman” in samoan. The female analogue is Fa’atama, meaning ” in the way of a man”. “Homosexuality” as modern western thought understands it is not widespread in Western Samoa, rather people adopt these two alternative identities, rather than the labels L, G, B or T. Note however they don’t quite map to trans-man or trans-woman, as traditionally, gender role expectation would still include elements of their biological gender.
      Basically what I’m trying to say is that queerness as we interpret it in modern times is most certainly NOT welcome in Western Samoa, but queerness as the samoans have typically interpreted it is an integral part of the culture (notice how the PM implicitly says that “straight” men would find fa’afine hot?).

      Jul 3, 2011 at 4:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree
      Jeffree

      Good on the Samoan PM for his speech.

      Thanks also to above commenters on the meaning(s) of fa’afafine. Mapping views on gender ID and/or sexual orientation from one culture another is always tricky, isn’t it?

      @Laughriotgirl: Who colonized Thailand? The English, French, Germans, Spanish or Dutch didn’t….but perhaps there’s yet another slice of history I’m unaware of!

      Jul 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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