“He”, “she”, “shim” Part II

05 July 2016, 12:00AM

We’ve asked members of the public what they think the fa’afafine should be referred to. Most of them in our previous Street Talk said fa’afafine should be referred to as “he.” Today, Deidre Fanene speaks with some members of the fa’afafine community about the issue. What do you they want to be called? He or shve? This is what they said:

Marine Su’a Tafaoimalo

Fasitoo Uta

Different fa’afafine’s have their different perspectives on this issue. As for me, I would prefer to be called a he because I was born a male. I prefer to be called a he because I dress up as a boy to public and at work and it is also easy for people to recognise me as a fa’afafine.

Tavita Sagato


I would prefer to be called a he because I was born to be a boy. I think people only realise that I am a fa’afafine when I start walking and talking but my appearance, I dress up like a boy. I don’t dress up like a girl because the fact of the matter is I am a boy and I think we should be called by the way God has created us all. There is no denying that we are fa’afafine and that is okay but as my own personal opinion I am a guy and I should be call a he and I am comfortable to be called a he.

Charlize Leo


Pronouns are important because they direct a point of respect. I am living life in the manner of a woman that is the definition of a faafafine after all. Everything I do, I am certain it comes from a woman’s perspective, mind-technology and from “her” own right. So yes, I prefer being called HER- most of us do. I do know some of us who don’t mind pronouns- genuinely, they have their own reasons, but for some, I don’t know- either they’re in fear, confused or seeking approval from “that” fraction of the public.

Orlando Vui


Not usually. Gender is part of your personal identity. If someone is calling you someone you are not, it is hurtful or at least annoying. If that person insist in referring to you as a gender you are not, or assuring you that they know your gender better than you know your own gender, then that will be rude.  Now if a man considers being called a woman is an insult because he believes that all women are weak and completely lacking in intelligence and that exist. And if a woman considers being called a man it is an insult too because are violent sexist pigs, that actually sexist too. To myself why should I be called a she when I know that I am a “HE” but however I am a fa’afafine and I am proud to be called a he.

Gustav Su’a 


I prefer people to call me a proud Samoan Fa’afafine to avoid people from being judgemental. We know who we are and we don’t need to deny it but we are who we are and we just want people to respect us just as we are. I don’t want them to call me a he or a she but a Samoan Fa’afafine is just fine.

Staka Landmate


I prefer to be addressed as a he, or a Mr. But in reality I am a man it’s just that I do have a feminine feelings, it doesn’t mean I’m a Miss or a she.

Jeremiah Lafaele


From personal experiences, not all fa’afafines are the same. Some differ in looks and how they express themselves because rumour has it that different people have different perspectives. This therefore outlines how each fa’afafines express themselves. In terms of addressing fa’afafines which is currently causing outrage on social media if fa’afafines should be called a “he” or a “she”, let me enlighten you on the definition that my Mothers (the SFA Originals) edified me with. A fa’afafine is someone or a person who embraces BOTH her masculinity and her femininity. However, it is up to the fa’afafine alone if he/she wants to be addressed as a “he” or a “she”. I have come across being a student to many fa’afafine teachers in Primary, College and University level and not once have i heard a fa’afafine teacher being called a Miss in an official sense though we do joke around calling them Miss just for humorous reasons.  Because physically we embrace our masculinity though we do embrace our femininity through clothing and make-up as well) but I am corely referring to our strength and form of actions - outdoor chores, athleticism and other matters that are male based.

 But in terms of mentality, we do think femininely which is in a way how we embrace our femininity. Because when we think girly, we manage to do girly things and react in a feminine way such as dancing gracefully for a female group, singing the soprano tone in a choir, or decorating churches and other settings for special events that are perceived femininely decorated. These minor affairs in particular make us feminine - because these are female based chores and roles.  So since Samoa is a democratic country that prioritizes human rights, it is therefore up to each individual fa’afafine to decide if he/she wants to be addressed through the two addressees. Religion wise, people say that God created only man and woman. YES I agree with you. BUT God also gave man and woman what is called freewill which in a sense is much similar to human rights.  This freewill was given to us to do what we want. So if man wants to be a woman and woman wants to be a man just let them be. We all know God and we all know that there’s a heaven and a hell so just let the person decide which sexual orientation he/she wants to fit in because at the end of the day it is there life not yours. But if it were up to me, I would be addressed through how I look. If I were to dress up manly and look like a manly fa’afafine, I wouldn’t be offended being called a he. And if I were to dress up femininely, I would appreciate being called a she as well.  As long as there is the presence of proudness to be able to act on behalf of both gender identities and being accepted for who we are as fa’afafines, then it is a privilege and a blessing to be called both a he and a she. Just to add on something, it is very much appropriate to call a transgender that has undergone transition and being accepted by her family and community as a woman a she. Don’t give her a he or you will start World War 3.

05 July 2016, 12:00AM

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