ClassificationGender identity
Other terms
Associated termsFakaleiti, Two-spirit, Trans woman, Akava'ine, Māhū
CultureGilbertese and Tuvaluan
Regions with significant populations
Micronesia and Polynesia

Binabinaaine, or pinapinaaine, (with the meaning of "becoming a woman" in Gilbertese)[1] are people who identify themselves as having a third-gender role in Kiribati and Tuvalu, and previously in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands which reunited the two archipelagoes.[2] These are people whose sex is assigned male at birth, but who embody female gendered behaviours.[3]

The term comes from Gilbertese and has been loaned into Tuvaluan; it can be used as a noun, a verb or an adverb.[4][5] The more rarely used term in Tuvaluan is fakafafine.[4] There are similarities between the societal roles that binabinaaine share with other gender liminal communities from the Pacific, including the Samoan fa'afafine and the Tongan fakaleiti.[6][7][8]

According to anthropologist Gilbert Herdt, binabinaaine are known for their performances (dancing and singing mainly) and their ability to comment on the appearance and behaviour of Gilbertese and Tuvaluan men.[4] Herdt also wrote that some Tuvaluans view binabinaaine as a "borrowing" from Kiribati whence other "'undesirable' traits of Tuvaluan culture, like sorcery, are thought to have originated", but those ideas are mainly spread by Protestant churches as Church of Tuvalu originated from Samoa, where the equivalent of binabinaaine also exists.[4] He also described how, in Funafuti, young women are often friends with older binabinaaine.[4]


  1. ^ "Introduction - Gender Identity and Sexual Identity in the Pacific and Hawai'i - Research Guides at University of Hawaii at Manoa". 2021-06-07. Archived from the original on 2021-06-07. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  2. ^ "Understanding the Pacific's alternative genders | RNZ News". Radio New Zealand. 2021-06-07. Archived from the original on 2021-06-07. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  3. ^ Jones, Tiffany (2019), Jones, Tiffany; Coll, Leanne; van Leent, Lisa; Taylor, Yvette (eds.), "Conceptualisation Landscapes: Overview of Global Gender and Sexuality Constructions", Uplifting Gender and Sexuality Education Research, Palgrave Studies in Gender and Education, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 3–13, doi:10.1007/978-3-030-24205-3_1, ISBN 978-3-030-24205-3, S2CID 202265231, retrieved 2021-06-07
  4. ^ a b c d e Herdt, Gilbert (2020-10-27). Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-942130-52-9.
  5. ^ Jamel, Joanna (2018), Jamel, Joanna (ed.), "Trans People and Their Experiences of Transphobia in Indigenous Cultures", Transphobic Hate Crime, Palgrave Hate Studies, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 1–19, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-57879-8_1, ISBN 978-3-319-57879-8, retrieved 2021-06-07
  6. ^ George, Nicole (2008). "Contending Masculinities and the Limits of Tolerance: Sexual Minorities in Fiji". The Contemporary Pacific. 20 (1): 163–189. ISSN 1043-898X. JSTOR 23724792.
  7. ^ Jones, Tiffany (2019-05-27). "A global human rights approach to pre-service teacher education on LGBTIs". Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education. 47 (3): 286–308. doi:10.1080/1359866X.2018.1555793. ISSN 1359-866X.
  8. ^ Farran, Sue (2010-05-01). "Pacific Perspectives: Fa'afafine and Fakaleiti in Samoa and Tonga: People Between Worlds". Liverpool Law Review. 31 (1): 13–28. doi:10.1007/s10991-010-9070-0. ISSN 1572-8625. S2CID 143571477.