Australia’s fa’afafine community is growing, and they want their voices heard


Latoya Hoeg had an upbringing some kids can only dream of. Rather than struggling to fit in as a boy, her Samoan family embraced her differences. “I was an effeminate person,” Latoya explains. “I was just being me, and my family back in Samoa, when I spoke, they just went, ‘fa’afafine!'” Fa’afafine means the mannerisms of a woman in Samoan culture, and the custom is practiced in other Pacific Island countries too. Traditionally, they are important to family life, performing stereotypically feminine roles like cooking meals and caring for children or ageing parents. A claim that some families of all boys would raise one or more of them as fa’afafine is disputed. They were not necessarily effeminate and could go on to marry women. But over time, what it means to be fa’afafine has evolved to include the transgender community.

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