The Samoan third Gender has a very specific role in Samoan society, as opposed to transgenderism in Western culture.
The Samoans have always had ‘Fa’afafines’ , which literally translated means ‘the third gender. Fa’afafines has a very specific role in Samoan society, as opposed to transgenderism in Western culture which is yet to be widely accepted.
Pre-Christian Samoans accepted and acknowledged that every individual, man or woman has a separate role in society; hence it is acceptable for a male child to be feminine. Boys who display marked effeminate behaviour in childhood are recognized to be Fa’afafines and are fully accepted in his family and society.
It is difficult to classify the concept of the Samoan third gender in the terms of Western culture. Categories like transgender, gay, homosexual, transvestite were created to classify males or females while the Fa’afafines identify as a separate gender. The Fa’afafines have a varied sex life which may be with another man, woman or Fa’afafine and since they have a separate gender identity they cannot be termed gay or homosexual. Tolerance is key.
Memoirs of a Samoan Catholic and Fa’afafine is a good read for a better understanding of Samoan culture.