5 May 2014

First transgender FIFA player stars in American Samoa documentary

1:53 pm on 5 May 2014

The first transgender or fa'afafine to play in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier says the world can learn from American Samoa's acceptance of the third gender.

Johnny, or Jaiyah, Saelua is one of the main stars of the movie, Next Goal Wins, which has premiered in the United States and hits Australian and New Zealand cinemas this month.

The film tracks the team's journey from a world record 31-nil loss to Australia in 2001, to winning their first game against Tonga.

Ms Saelua says Next Goal Wins is not just about soccer, but about American Samoa's beautiful culture, which includes an acceptance of the fa'afafine.

"Culturally we are centuries ahead of the western societies, only because we don't have to deal with discrimination of transgender people, of the fa'afafine. We don't have to deal with adversity and I think that's what the main shock is here in the UK or the US or anywhere else in the world."

Jaiyah Saelua.