Gender Colonialism

Paul L. Vasey is a Professor and Research Chair at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. A recent piece of his in Newsweek documents the facts about the “fa’afafine” in Samoa & the “muxes” of Southern Mexico.

He has interviewed hundreds of them.

They have been used in arguments made by Western Gender Colonialists that “transgenderism” has always existed and is a world-wide phenomena.

Professor Vasey says: NO.

The author (right) and his fa’afafine research assistant, Trisha

A few important graphs.

Unlike many trans people in the West who identify as male-to-female, fa'afafine and muxes recognize that they have male bodies and that these are immutable. A tiny number might femininize their bodies with hormones or even more rarely surgery, but no one in their local communities, least of all fa'afafine and muxes themselves, believe that such procedures transform them into females. Given that they do not identify as women and recognize that they are male, dysphoria about sex or gender has traditionally been relatively uncommon in these cultures, my research has shown.

In view of all this, it should come as no surprise that fa'afafine and muxes are not "raised as girls" as Western commentators often assert. Nor do families lacking girls "create" fa'afafine and muxes as substitute daughters—another Western fantasy. Research conducted by my students and I has repeatedly demonstrated that, like gay men, fa'afafine and muxes tend to have more older sisters than straight men, not fewer, so the so-called need for additional girls in such families is non-existent.

Gender diverse individuals from non-Western cultures are routinely marshaled as evidence that the panoply of transgender phenomenon we see in the West has existed everywhere since time immemorial. In reality, the vast majority of gender variant individuals living in non-Western cultures are a particular "type." Almost invariably, their sex-atypical behavior emerges in early childhood, and as adults they are exclusively same-sex attracted, underscoring the very real developmental connection that exists between sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation regardless of culture. In contrast, very different types of non-homosexual, adolescent-onset transgenderism tend to predominate in the West.

Dragooned into the service of Western gender ideology, the unique cultural character of fa'afafine and muxes can become warped like a funhouse mirror and, in the process, we end up far from reality.

Obviously, individuals can identify in any way that they choose, including those living in the West. But imposing Western concepts of sex and gender onto non-Western cultures, ones with rich traditions of their own, is wrong. Let's be clear about calling this what it truly is: gender colonialism.  - Paul Vasey

Full story here.