Newly Crowned Miss SOFIAS Christian Wright- Salavea Shares How She was Banned From Using a Woman's BathroomRead Now
On Saturday, April 22, 2023, I was invited to participate as a Judge for the SOFIAS (Society of Fa’afafine in American Samoa) Pageant. This is an event that has a long-standing history in American Samoa, as this was the 39th Annual event. The opening numbers, and the outfits worn were glamorous, as the theme centered on the “Dollhouse”. Miss Christian Wright Sa’alea had described her experience of being denied access to use the women’s bathroom in a local store, which represents many stories shared by the Fa’afafine community.
There is a long standing ‘debate as to what public bathrooms trans people should access. In a recent study done in Britain, it was found 29% of people agreed for specified trans women who had not undergone gender-affirming surgeries, they should use women’s bathrooms. For women who have gone through gender-affirming surgeries, 53% of people were in favor. Unfortunately, these belief systems place trans women to fall victim to violent crimes. Studies show, that women are accosted in restrooms, but trans women fall victim to violent crimes while using public bathrooms.
Accessing safe spaces is a conversation that should be held within every community. Accessing safe public bathrooms are conversations that need to be held within our community, due to safety, and human rights issues. In discussions I have held with our local fa’afafine community many reports they will not use the bathrooms in their workplace and will wait till then return home. Many shared they will “hold it in” until they can find a “safe” bathroom. When made to use the wrong bathrooms, transgenders, or the Fa’afafine community suffer the most risk of sexual violence. It is imperative our community learn more about our other gender, the Fa’afafine community. Let’s look at our communities and tailor policies to meet our needs.
Every April, the Nation brings attention to (SAAM) - Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This movement is spearheaded by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and consists of multiple efforts to educate and engage the public in issues surrounding sexual assault. This year marks the 22nd anniversary of SAAM which means officially it has not be around for very long however, the fight for rights for people of color, women’s rights, and other social activism efforts have all made conversations around sexual assault and domestic violence more possible and have definitely played an integral role in promoting justice and change where needed. The theme of Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2023 is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” Photo Credits: NSVRC This theme ties in really well with the history surrounding sexual assault in that sexual violence is often fought hand in hand with ending systems of oppression. There we have our drawn connections. Systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and others can contribute to higher rates of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. Prevention is often seen as the greatest way to reduce the risk of harm, and really a safer way to approach potential or prospective problems. Therefore the message that is being expressed is really that we cannot end sexual assault or violence without also addressing the unequal treatment of populations within our communities, to be truly immune, exempt, free, or safe from sexual violence, we have to be fair, just, honest, and value one another