Fa'afafine is a traditional third-gender or non-binary role in Samoa, American Samoa, and the Samoan diaspora. The closest Western equivalent would be a an overlap between gay men and trans women, but it is still its own identity. It is a recognized gender role in traditional Samoan society, and an integral part of Samoan culture. Faʻafafine are assigned male at birth, and embody both masculine and feminine gender traits in a way unique to Polynesia. The traditional role of a fa'afafine is to act like a mother, helping with cooking, cleaning, childcare, etc. Some faʻafafine recall believing they were girls in childhood, but knew better as adults. In Samoa, there is very seldom ridicule or displeasure towards a biologically male child who states that they are a girl. Being pushed into the male gender role is upsetting to many faʻafafine.
Faʻafafine, as a third gender, have sexual relationships almost exclusively with men, and sometimes with women, but not with other faʻafafine. This third gender is so well-accepted in Samoan culture that most Samoans state that they have friendship relationships with at least one faʻafafine; it is, however, not totally accepted in other communities, such as some Catholic groups and traditional leaders.
The flag was created by an anonymous Tumblr user, submitted to the blog ask-pride-color-schemes on December 19, 2016. The flag was based off the logo of the Society of Fa'afafine in American Samoa (S.O.F.I.A.S.), a group that helps promote recognition and respect for fa'afafine, while also encouraging working together with and helping the LGBT+ community in the Samoas and America. The dark red and yellow bars, dark red then yellow then dark red, come from the color pallet of the logo, as well as the hibiscus in the middle. The hibiscus is traditional associated with tropical islands like the Samoas, and pink ones in particular with femininity and fa'afafines.
The word faʻafafine includes the causative prefix faʻa-, meaning "in the manner of", and the word fafine, meaning "woman". It is cognate with linguistically related words or social categories in other Polynesian languages, such as the Tongan fakaleiti, and the Hawaiian and Tahitian māhū.