"A star of the award-winning film about American Samoa's national football team has given the keynote address at the 40th Annual Conference of the East Coast Asian American Student Union at Raleigh, North Carolina.
Jaiyah Saelua talked about her experience of sex discrimination at a college campus in Hawaii, how football and the film Next Goal Wins, in which she starred have opened doors for her and how faaSamoa embraces and accepts faafafine like herself as the third gender and as human beings.
The East Coast Asian American Student Union mission is to inspire, educate and empower Asian American & Pacific Islander students in higher education."
Jaiyah Saelua speaking at the East Coast Asian American Student Union conference. Photo: Supplied
"In 2009 when Saelua was dismissed from the University of Hawaii Hilo men's soccer team tryouts, she said it felt that she didn't have a voice.
But she told the conference that the title of being the first transgender in the world to play in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier gave her that voice.
She said it gave her an international platform and a responsibility to be the voice of many others like herself.
She pondered whether to remain in American Samoa and continue to live comfortably in an atmosphere that respects her, while the world of football continued to be completely careless to transgender interests, or whether she should capitalize on this opportunity to make a difference in the world."