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Gender on the EdgeTransgender, Gay, and Other Pacific Islanders$
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Niko Besnier and Kalissa Alexeyeff

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838829

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838829.001.0001

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The Fokisi and the Fakaleitī

The Fokisi and the Fakaleitī

Provocative Performances in Tonga

(p.213) Chapter 10 The Fokisi and the Fakaleitī
Gender on the Edge

Mary K. Good

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores how transgender and “hypersexualized” individuals negotiate their subjectivity and perform their identities in relation to each other by focusing on the fokisi and the fakaleitī of Tonga. Fakaleitī are men who dress and act in a manner similar to women, whereas fokisi are women known for their purported promiscuity and semiotic markers of questionable morality. Both fakaleitī and fokisi have become associated with the values and venues of the world beyond Tonga, due in part to their real or imagined interest in activities such as going to nightclubs, drinking alcohol, and engaging in sexual activities outside the socially condoned realm of marriage. This chapter considers how fakaleitī and fokisi youth claim to “empower each other” though their nonsexual bonds of intimacy. It also examines the friendships formed in the context of a HIV/AIDS peer facilitator group as an opportunity for young Tongans to perform marginalized and socially vulnerable identities.

Keywords:   transgender, fokisi, fakaleitī, Tonga, men, women, intimacy, friendship, HIV/AIDS, youth

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