Appendix D: What is a Fa’afafine Video Transcription

Narrator: On Pacific Beat Street.

Host 1: Welcome back people still to come our man ? is here at the ?! Yo, cuz!

Host 2: And I check out the extremely physical craft of stone masonry.

Host 3: But right now come with me to meet a true princess of the Pacific.

Person: Oh, stop it!

Host 3: Haha, you stop it!

Host 3: In the western world the sight of a man wearing lipstick and acting as a woman would cause heads to spin, but not in the Pacific, as there is a respect for what we know as fa’afafine. But what does it mean to be a fa’afafine? Let’s find out.

Host 3: Everybody meet my dear friend Phylesha, a fa’afafine and advocate for the transgender community. Now sis, what are we doing here today?

Phylesha: Well, I’m out here in South Auckland working with a young transgender group, and I thought I’d come out here and get some food ‘cuz what other better way to compliment sharing but with food and conversation?

Host 3: Is that a major part of your role to support those in the transgender community?

Phylesha: Because of who I am and how I identify, people pretty much ask me to come out and speak openly and honestly about what it is to be fa’afafine.

Host 3: Now you have a strong sense of identity and ways of seeing the world, how do you think the world sees you?

Phylesha: Everybody has a different interpretation of who I am as an individual, I’ve always been true to myself. So I think it’s something that’s helped me to overcome negativity.

Host 3: So you did face negativity growing up a fa’afafine.

Phylesha: Absolutely, and it still happens today. Misinterpretations of who I am. I’m a sex worker, I’m a druggy, I’m a thief, I’m a man who wears women’s clothing, there’s so many different misinterpretations, but a lot of the negative stereotypes were created because they had no idea who really, what really a is fa’afafine or transgender person.

Host 3: So a fa’afafine is not a man, who dresses as a woman?

Phylesha: Every fa’afafine has a different perception. For me, first and foremost, I don’t identify as a man, I don’t identify as a woman. I identify as who I am and who I know to be, and that is a human being.

Host 3: Is that a space in between a man and a woman?

Phylesha: That’s for you to decide, but for me I just live my life just the way I am because that’s how I know how to be.

Host 3: So today is a better understanding for our youth, and for me, and for our audience.

Phylesha: Indeed.

Host 3: Okay, let’s go.

Host 3: Do our people, Pacific people have a special understanding of the world of fa’afafine?

Phylesha: Yeah, I think they do, I think the view of fa’afafine says they are individuals who identify predominantly more so being female, and functioning in those roles, but also having the roles of male roles as well. We are family members, we are friends, we are engaged in community, but there are always two sides to a story, and whether it’s positive or negative, there’s still a strong understanding of what it is to be fa’afafine or what it is to be ?, what it is to be Pacific.

Host 3: But is there an acceptance of being fa’afafine in the Polynesian community?

Phylesha: It’s one thing to be tolerated because you function in society as being a cook, as being part of a choir, as being a caregiver, but to be accepted is something not received by fa’afafine.

Host 3: So would it have been easier for you if your were biologically born as a man, to just live as a man?

Phylesha: Well, I guess for a man, yeah. I don’t know what it is to be a man because that’s not how I, I’ve lived my life, but it also places it back on society, on the expectations. They play some people to be so-called normal. Being transgender in New Zealand is still on the mental illness bill. You’re deemed as being somebody with a medical condition, or medical illness, which for me I have no relation to that whatsoever.

Host 3: Well I’d love to find out more about you and what you do.

Phylesha: Sure. Come on, let’s go.

Phylesha: Girls, come on through.

Everyone: Hi!

Phylesha: They’re a part of this newly formed group which is formed by them and is called INE, INE stands for Identity Nurture, and Empowerment.

Host 3: Tyra what to you get as being part of this group?

Tyra: I get to help other transgender people like myself in schools who are struggling, ‘cuz I was pretty much the only one in my school, so it was kind of hard I had no support.

Host 3: Michelle why do you think a group like this is important for fa’afafine trying to assert their identity.

Michelle: A lot of the time we don’t have a voice, and there’s very few people out in the media portraying us as people, we get the chance to say to educators and providers “Look, this is we need: to be people first and foremost, and we need to be unique people.”

Host 3: Michelle, what does your future look like?

Michelle: I would really like to be a university lecturer. I think it would be really cool to just put myself out there and just be a voice for our people.

Host 3: Phylesha do you have a picture for your future and what you’d like it to be?

Phylesha: A future with no stigma, no discrimination, no harm, no prejudice, no judgemental people. On a personal level, I’d like to see these young ones do really good for themselves and become who they aspire to be.

Host 3: Well thank you so much for being with us for being with us today, and thank you to the girls for giving us all a better understanding of what it means to be fa’afafine in New Zealand. Sounds good?

Everyone: Bye!


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Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach Copyright © by State University of New York is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.