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Being both: Gender and indigeneity in two Pacific documentary films

Volume 21, Issue 2

October, 2015

From page
63
to page
76
Woodward, S. (2015). Being both: Gender and indigeneity in two Pacific documentary films. Pacific Journalism Review, 21(2): 63-76.
Author(s): Suzanne Woodward
Publication date: 
October, 2015

Transgender is a term originating from a particularly Western discourse of restrictive gender identity that struggles to account for diverse gender identities. Several non-Western cultures, however, especially indigenous cultures, have quite different and varied understandings of gender. Diverse approaches to gender have been framed through dominant Euro-Christian discourses as deviant, immoral and inferior—part of the dangerous alternative knowledge of indigenous cultures that colonialism worked so hard and so violently to eradicate. It is only recently that non-dominant gender discourses have begun visibly and vocally to re-assert themselves as viable and valuable alternatives to the orthodox narratives of pathology and deviance dominating Western gender discussions. The development of an alternative and more celebratory approach to gender diversity can be perceived through two notable documentary films from the Pacific: Georgie Girl (Goldson & Wells, 2002) and Kumu Hina (Hamer & Wilson, 2014). Rather than starting from a position that sees gender variance as a depressing problem, these stories offer the possibility of re-appropriating transgender as not only normal, but precious.