Fa’afafines might have become members of the modern Samoan community but in the traditional Samoan set up, they were not part of the picture.
That’s the opinion of the Chairman of the National Council of Churches (N.C.C), Deacon Kasiano Leaupepe, in the wake of calls from Samoa Faafafine Association for the community to respect their rights.
Speaking during an interview with the Samoa Observer, Le’aupepe said fa’afafines are human beings created by God and they should be respected.
But he objected to a commonly held misconception that fa’afafines are part of the Samoan culture.
“Back in the days we hardly heard of this word fa’afafine because there were hardly any fa’afafines around in our days,” he said.
“To be honest, there is no fa’afafine in the Samoan way of life. There is the Village Fono for the matai, there is a sitting of the untitled men and of course there is a saofaiga for tina ma tamaitai (mothers and females) but there is nothing in the traditional setting for fa’afafines.
“[But] because people have decided to make such changes to their physical appearance, that is why all this stuff has become about.” Deacon Leaupepe said he has nothing against faafafine but he reminded that all the challenges Samoa is facing today stem from the break down in family values. “Like I said before, parents play the most important part in any child’s life and they are their children’s first teachers. “It all starts from home; home is the foundation of any child’s life.
“If the parents see that in their son’s upbringing that he acts like a girl and walks like a girl, they should start teaching them that this is not who they are and explain to them that God did not create them to be females. “The problem is that some parents laugh at their children when they see these kinds of things. They think it’s funny but little do they know that, that laugh is encouraging the child to do what they think is right. This is why we’ve got this problem today.”
Leaupepe added that in modern Samoa, fa’afafine are part of us. The are officially recognized by the government, with the Prime Minister being the Patron of the Faafafine Association. “Therefore in the church, we accept them because they are human beings and that they were created by God,” he said.
“So in the church, our belief is that we are all the same and we were all created by God. “So my personal view is that we leave the changes to the individual person to decide. “When it comes to faafaine, that is their right whether they want to change what God has already given them or stay the same. “For us in the church, as leaders we can only give advice, pray and tell them what the word of God says.
“If only the church has the power to change what it is already in place we would have not allowed them but because in God’s eyes we are all the same people and we are all His children created in His own image.”