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fakaleiti is Tongan for "like a lady".

It is the term used to refer to transsexuals or transvestites in Tonga. They dress as women, often with makeup, and act effeminately.

Not all are homosexual. Some are heterosexual and marry women and live otherwise "typical" lifestyles. Many consider themselves ladies and wouldn't have anyone but a masculine man. In general, fakaleiti are likely to be quite promiscuous - far more than would be acceptable to XX-chromosome females. There is concern that this behaviour will result in rapid spread of HIV/AIDS.

Adult leiti(ladies - as they often prefer to simply be called) are quite well accepted in Tongan society - which when contrasted against a background of a strong Christian landscape, is somewhat remarkable. Not to say that there is no ostracism against fakaleiti- It is very difficult for young boys to be raised as leiti and many are teased growing up.

Fakaleiti participate in an annual Miss Galaxy Pageant each June and there is an active association of leiti on Tongatapu - the Tonga Leitis' Association.

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