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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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PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Televisual Transgender

Televisual Transgender

Hybridizing the Mainstream in Pasifika New Zealand

(p.241) Chapter 11 Televisual Transgender
Gender on the Edge

Sarina Pearson

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter focuses on the portrayal of transgender in New Zealand televisual comedy, including shows associated with Pasifica. Since the mid-1990s, transgender has been a common fixture of New Zealand television, especially comedy. Many comedies featuring transgender, such as Skitz and The Laughing Samoans at Large, are explicitly associated with Pasifica. In form and comedic sensibility, these “Pacific-influenced” shows are heavily indebted to fale aitu, the Samoan carnivalesque theatrical tradition featuring transvestism. This chapter examines the apparent paradox presented by the comedic act Topp Twins and other New Zealand transgender performances through the lens of Pacific identity. It shows that New Zealand televisual comedy, and New Zealand popular culture more generally, is influenced by Pacific clowning and Samoan fale aitu.

Keywords:   transgender, New Zealand, televisual comedy, Pasifica, television, fale aitu, Samoa, transvestism, identity, clowning

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