The Meaning of Mahu


Mahu is the Hawaiian term for people who embody both the male and female spirit. It is what Westerners call transgender. Early hawaiians respected Mahu as healers, caretakers and teachers of ancient tradition.

Despite colonization and repression through the centuries, the Hawaiians have managed to maintain their respect for gender diversity and the people ‘in the middle’ continue to play an important and visible role in Hawaiian society.

There is something called the ‘Pledge of Aloha’ which Hawaiians live by. Aloha is a Hawaiian word which literally means ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’ However, it also carries with it an understanding of love and affection.

The Pledge of Aloha states that; every person has a role in society and deserves to be treated with respect, every person should be free to express what is in their heart and mind and that every person should be able to freely practice their cultural traditions.

It sounds like we could all use a bit more Aloha in our lives!

For more information and a quick visual representation go to:

You can also learn more about Mahu at:

By Olivia Hobden
Graphic by Inessa Khemii



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