Leitis in Waiting

A group of leitis (transgender women) posing in the shallow water on a beach

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson 
2018 | 71 minutes
Countries of Production: Kingdom of Tonga, USA
Courtry Featured: Kingdom of Tonga
NY Premiere

In the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga, transgender women—known locally as leitis—have long been part of the cultural landscape. Some enjoy an honored role as attendants to the royal family. And they have played a significant role in advocating for transgender rights on the global stage. But a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and bigotry on the islands has raised new and virulent opposition to the leitis, threatening their human rights.

Co-presented by Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU


Resilience in Motion | In Their Own Words

"Leitis In Waiting is a film that is long overdue. Despite being sought and capitalized upon for our skills and talents throughout Polynesia, middle genders all too commonly find ourselves underground and in the shadows, sequestered under duress for fear that someone might discover our ability to love and be loved and our need for affection and appreciation. It takes great resilience to ensure we aren’t washed away with the foreign tides of influence on our islands.”

– Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu | Director, Leitis In Waiting