Skip to content

If only people understood language

The trans ‘queen mother’ reclaiming Fiji’s third gender – photo essay

How Super!

Mcgoon has taken courage and inspiration from the celebration of a third gender – “vakasalewalewa” in traditional Fijian culture. The iTaukei term refers to people assigned male at birth who identify as women and whose identities are both recognised and valued.

Excellent. So, not trans in the modern sense at all. Fijian culture recognised the difference between these hairdressing folk and the wider male grouping, OK. But, note, they also recognized the difference between these folk and the wider female grouping too. “Third” actually has a meaning.

Now, if English had a word like vakasalewalewa then much of the current shouting match would be done and dusted. “people assigned male at birth who identify as women” OK, that’s fine, very few have a problem with that. Your prop forward, your frock and all that. But note what doesn’t happen in that formulation. Identify as and is are different. It’s also a third gender. Which allows for those fine grains of distinction perhaps required. Sure, you’re socially a woman for most use cases perhaps. But, well, not the changing rooms, eh? Say, and just as an example.

We also get the linguistic joys. Vakasalewalewa get called in for the prostate checks, not the cervix ones. We can go back to using men and women – or, if you really, really want to men and “English word we don’t have but which means vakasalewalewa” get prostates done, women cervixes.

Which is what makes it so fun – to me at least – that we’ve these repeated articles about how Red Indians recognise two spirit people, about how varied Mela- and Poly- nesian societies are just fine with the fey and light on their feet. And, let’s be honest they should be and so should we. God’s made some strange buggers out there but that’s the point, we are all God’s little creatures. But the point about all of these other societies is that they make a distinction between the two spirit and men and women, between the lightness of pedicures and women etc. But this fact that they make the distinction is used to browbeat us into not making the distinction. We are supposed to take the evidence of two spirit and vakasalewalewa distinctions as not allowing the distinction between trans and cis. Trans women are women we’re told – the proof being that other societies don’t say that, they say exactly the opposite, that these folk aren’t men or women they’re a third gender.

It really is remarkable how both language and basic logic get mangled in this particular debate, isn’t it?

19 thoughts on “If only people understood language”

  1. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    Sex isn’t assigned at birth, it is observed and recorded. This assignment nonsense is all part of the propaganda that there are somehow more that two sexes.

  2. The original intention of the first trans recognition laws in the UK were centred around ensuring trans people could access services such as banking, loans and the like. There used to be a problem when Brenda applied to a bank and all her identification stated that she was really a bloke called Cecil.

    In my mind (at least back then) it was a fairly reasonable thing for society to do. Allow them the bank, save, rent and borrow.

    No one could have foreseen just how weird and burlesque the whole trans thing would have become.

  3. Do they have three categories of jail?

    salamnder – “No one could have foreseen just how weird and burlesque the whole trans thing would have become”. Oh yes they could.
    Once you appreciate how some people the nutters operate, it is obvious.

    Likewise, “While the number of migrants from Central and Eastern Europe into the UK was predicted to be in the region of 5,000 to 13,000.
    Anyone with two functioning brain cells knew it would be waaaaay more than that. And so it came to pass………

  4. “Now, if English had a word like vakasalewalewa then much of the current shouting match would be done and dusted.”

    Think how much longer it would make the Diversity and Inclusion policy documents, though. And we’d still get hauled up before HR for misusing the term. “Some big hairy vaka in a skirt…”

  5. Addolff is right, this was perfectly foreseeable.

    Just as it was perfectly foreseeable that if everyone cravenly acquiesced to the demand of a deranged individual with giant fake breasts to call it a woman, it would then demand that we all believe the aforementioned bosom is real and not fake at all…

    This is why it used to be the case that if you told a psychiatrist you were Napoleon, they locked you up. These days, they’d give you an army uniform and a white horse.

  6. I seem to recall from my youth that the english language had several words for the people in question. Unfortunately their use has been prohibited for some considerable time.

  7. Just to remind, that Canadian teacher was a spoof, a satire, on the nonsense. That’s why there’s no more talk of it in the press.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    We should do what we usually do in these situations, adopt the word and adapt it for our usage. Vaka seems perfectly fine and it has the added benefit of winding up the usual suspects who’ll scream about cultural appropriation.

  9. Monica, who gave herself that name in honour of Monica Lewinsky, remembers hearing about the traditional vakasalewalewa around the kava circle – people gathering to chat as they shared the ceremonial drink

    Not sure if I swallow that one.

  10. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    This happens in some Native American tribes as well.

    Male but don’t want to go out hunting, fighting the next tribe etc? Fine, but it comes with a number of social disadvantages.

  11. All these colourful tribes across the world have one thing in common: the third gender is exclusively MtF, that is men who wear frocks. There are no FtM in those societies. Especially no teenage FtMs, as we see here.

  12. So they’re saying dear Kayla can’t transition to a man if she wants to, PJF?? And even worse, they’ve dumped that murderer—–oops sorry baby, in the female prison.

    Bloody hell!!!

  13. I always thought the beat approach is similar to the ladyboys in Thailand.
    Sure, dress and act like a woman – some of them are quite convincing.
    But be honest and make it clear that you’re a ladyboy from the outset.
    Lying and pretending you’re a woman and trying to force us to go along with the lie is just going to infuriate people.
    Nobody wants to take a lass home for a bit of nookie to be confronted with a surprise lady penis.

    And FFS, if you have a dick, stay out of the women’s changing rooms etc

  14. I did read a study a while back that claimed a lot of the 2-spirit/3rd gender stuff from other cultures was being misinterpreted and was akin to the noble savage at one with nature tropes.
    Basically gay/trans rights people with an axes to grind seizing on any little thing that supported their cause and over-inflating it.
    I was quite surprised that an intelligent friend of mine told me he only just found out Native Americans/First Nations had slaves and fought wars against other.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *