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Fa’afafines

Fa’afafine (pronounced fa-a-fafee-nay) is a culturally specific term in Samoan, a language spoken by the indigenous Polynesian people of the Samoan islands, referring to those with a specific nonbinary gender identity. The term fa’afafine is composed of fa’a, meaning “in the manner of,” and fafine, meaning “woman.” Fa’afafine refers to people whose sex assigned at birth is male and whose gendered behaviors are feminine or women-like. The majority of fa’afafines present with a feminine gender expression and behave in ways that are consistent with traditionally female social roles. However, there is variation among how each fa’afafine understands and expresses their gender identity. Some fa’afafines understand their gender identity as being not just feminine but of being both masculine and feminine. This entry explores the experiences ...

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