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Jaiyah Saelua & American Samoa FC

"Look at this beautiful woman that's athletically very strong beside me, I knew there were some intangibles that I could work with to turn this team around in a short space of time." The woman Rongen refers to is Jaiyah Saelua, born Johnny, but one of the island's Fa'afafine - an integral part of traditional Samoan culture, born biologically male but embodying both masculine and feminine gender traits. It makes her the world's first transgender national football player. While, through the force of her own personality, Jaiyah becomes an integral part of the documentary - there is no explicit battle for acceptance from her teammates, the issue of sexual identity is just not an issue for the islanders. "Its natural in American Samoa because its part of the culture. Fa'afafine's have been around since before the missionaries came. It's so deeply embedded in the foundations of our culture to show respect and that includes respect for transgender people," says Jaiyah.

posted by marienbad on May 6, 2014 - 30 comments

Transgender soccer player makes history

In November of 2011, Jaiyah Saelua, a center back for American Samoa, became the first transgendered individual to participate in a World Cup qualifier. [more inside]
posted by Bulgaroktonos on Mar 2, 2013 - 17 comments

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