Young transgender woman dancing to be wild and free video

Freeda James-Fuemana is 18, lives in Te Atatu and graduated Kelston Boys High School in 2016.

Freeda James-Fuemana said her role model is her mother, who teaches her everything and is there for support.
BEATRICE RANDELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Freeda James-Fuemana said her role model is her mother, who teaches her everything and is there for support.

How would you describe yourself in a few words?

Nice, kind, bubbly, friendly and sometimes bossy.

How important is your cultural identity?

If anyone mocks me I would get so angry. I love my culture so much. To me being a transgender and having Niuean-Maori decent, I take it very proudly. I'm proud to be who I am and represent where I come from. No-one's going to stop me from being who I am and representing my culture.

Freeda James-Fuemana said voguing, for her, means to be wild and let herself be free.
BEATRICE RANDELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Freeda James-Fuemana said voguing, for her, means to be wild and let herself be free.

Are you still part of the Kweenz of Kelston group at school, now that you've left school?

I will always be a Kween of Kelston, we will always carry that title.

What would you say to any new Kweenz?

Be who you are, don't be scared. Be free, be you. Who cares what the world or anyone thinks about you. It's you. You're still a human at the end of the day. 

Freeda James-Fuemana is 18, lives in Te Atatu. She graduated high school in 2016 and identifies as transgender.
BEATRICE RANDELL/FAIRFAXNZ

Freeda James-Fuemana is 18, lives in Te Atatu. She graduated high school in 2016 and identifies as transgender.

Who do you look up to?

My role model in my life is my mother. She teaches me everything and is always there for support. For dancing it's Leiomy​. She's an American vogue dancer. For me, voguing means to be wild, let myself be free and be who I am. Letting leash. Showing the world what I can do and how I can dance. I started dancing at high school, I saw my friends dance and wanted to learn. Since then I've been watching Leiomy on videos. 

Is voguing a style of dance?

It's a style. The people that do voguing are mostly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, intersex (LGBTQI) but everyone can dance like that if they want to. It brings us more together as one. There's vogue balls that are happening in Auckland now.

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What do you do in your spare time?

Dancing and playing lots of sports. I play kilikiti​, netball, touch and tag. I play for my Niuean village, for village sports. I like meeting my family, representing my village, getting to know new people and being healthy. I also like to spend time with family and friends.

Tell me about your family?

I have one brother and one sister on my mum's side. On my dad's side I have two sisters and one brother. I'm the second oldest and my youngest sibling is four. My mum is Niuean and my dad is Maori. I know my Niuean side really well. I know my Maori side but I hardly get to see them because they live far away. When there's time to see them, I spend the most time with them. My Iwi is Tainui.

Are there parts of high school you miss?

I miss my teachers. The bullying could be fine for a few months then it would start coming back constantly. There were some lovely teachers, always there to back us up. A lot of support.

What have you been up to since high school?

I've been studying, studying hard, trying to get all the qualifications I need. I'm studying business enterprise and technology. I want to be an actor or a flight attendant, or a receptionist. 

What are your hopes for your future?

To be successful and to achieve my goals. Finish my qualification, get a good job, buy a house and a car.

Freeda was in the 2014 documentary The Kweenz of Kelston, directed by Todd Karehana.

 - Western Leader

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