SHOWCASE November 13, 2015

Limelight: Tamani Rama (Fiji)

Limelight is a series profiling the unsung individual community advocates.

Youth Voices Count’s second Ignite! Mentorship Program was held in Bangkok this month. Young LGBT community advocates from all over Asia attended the five-day workshop designed to enhance their professional development and advocacy work. APCOM had the privilege of speaking to Tamani Rama, 22, a youth trans advocate from Fiji, about what it’s like to be a transgender person in the archipelago of more than 332 islands.

Tamani identifies as a young transgender queer. A student at the University of South Pacific, Tamani works at Rainbow Pride Foundation as an active member of its youth wing. She claims that she was aware of her sexual diversity from a young age. Her parents noticed that she was non-binary since she was a child. As a child, her parents would dress her up in pretty dresses and she really enjoyed it. These dress-up games were favoured over playing with other toys that the boys of her age used to love. She also recalls that her mother bought her first pair of heels.

“I would not really identify myself as a transgender, it’s just that my sexual gender expression is something similar to what transgender people are. It’s not how I like to box myself in a particular group. I’m just a person who identifies as a woman and is attracted to people of all genders”.

“I would not really identify myself as a transgender, it’s just that my sexual gender expression is something similar to what transgender people are. It’s not how I like to box myself in a particular group. I’m just a person who identifies as a woman and is attracted to people of all genders”.

She accepts that it may seem that she is confused about her gender identity but Tamani believes that her sexuality is her own and she is taking her time to explore it. She loves her body and is currently not thinking about going through transitioning process. She admits to wearing a bra but is not on hormones, however she may or may not transition. “I don’t know what’s in store for me in the future but at the moment I’m living and loving my life as it.”

In 2010, Fiji became the first Pacific Island nation with colonial-era sodomy laws to formally decriminalize sex between men. The truth according to Tamani, however, is that Fiji is still a conservative society at heart and not all parents of LGBT children are as supportive as hers.Tamani too faced her fair share of discrimination. “I used to live just beside the police station and I had to walk by it everyday. A police officer would verbally harassed me by catcalling and making derogatory comments. I recently made a complaint about that and it was highlighted in the media by the police commissioner himself,” she reflects.

During the YVC Ignite mentorship program, Tamani has vowed to develop key young LGBTIQ campaigns and products using creative and innovative designs and technologies as an advocacy tool for the community and social media and to increase participation in development processes in Fiji.

She wishes to leave a message to all those young people out there who are still exploring their sexuality and may be unsure of themselves. “You don’t have to put yourself in a box. You don’t have to conform into what the society or even the LGBT community thinks you should be. Be different be yourself and be somebody who wakes up everyday who feels liberated and celebrated.”


If you know the right candidate to be featured in our Limelight series, contact Safir Soeparna at safirs@apcom.org