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August 23, 2007

Faafafine at the Pasifika Festival 2007

Samoan faafafine
Fa'afafine performers at Auckland Pasifika Festival
Fa'afafine (fah-fa-fee-neh) is a Samoan word that translates literally as "like a woman" and describes males who identify as female.

I can't find much information on fa'afafine on the web at all, but Wikipedia's entry on fa'afafine states: "Fa'afafine fall in the general and vague category called transgender...They are often sexually attracted to non-transgender men, although some decide to marry heterosexually"

A link from Wikipedia to Radio ABC Australia has a rather idealized 2005 piece on fa'afafine (Samoan boys brought up as girls)

A paucity of information on the web about fa'afafine is made up for by the ubiquity of fa'afafine in New Zealand (and I presume Samoa) whenever groups of Samoans gather for fun. I have been at barbecues in New Zealand that have evolved into impromptu shows of fa'afafine entertaining the guests with antics consisting of a combination of traditional dance and "camp" to the delight of the guests.

The Polynesian dance festival "Pasifika" which I had the pleasure of attending in Auckland this past March for the first time featured a group of fa'afafine who performed for the large crowd gathered at the Samoan village. In this photo I caught them hiding behind a tent nervously awaiting their turn on the stage.

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