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September 03 , 2007

O Au No Keia

Voices From Hawai'i's Mahu and Transgender Communities


This book is an anthology of spoken narratives collected from male-to-female transgendered people who live on the island of O‘ahu. In this book, people who identify as “mahu” (the local term for a transgendered person), transsexual, and/or drag queen tell their stories and address the issues important in their lives. They talk about gender identity and sexuality; coming out to their families; familial acceptance and rejection; going to school; surviving on the streets; transitioning to womanhood; finding a romantic partner; spirituality and religion; Hawaiian culture; growing old, and much more. The transgender communities on O‘ahu are extensive and rich with diversity. Nevertheless, the general public typically views transgendered people in one-dimensional, stereotypical terms, often as prostitutes or sexual deviants. This collection will increase the visibility of transgenderism, and educate readers by giving transgendered people the opportunity to speak for themselves. Its contributors are of a variety of ages, and backgrounds. Not only do the powerfully moving narratives in ‘‘O Au No Keia reveal what it is like to be transgendered, they also illuminate what this means in the unique cultural context of Hawai‘i. On the one hand, this state has the reputation of being extremely accepting of those who are transgendered, as well as of those who are gay and lesbian. Indeed, it is reported that transgenderism and bisexuality were accepted in traditional Hawaiian society. On the other hand, much of Hawai‘i’s population is devoutly Christian, and the gay marriage bill was decisively defeated in 1999. Through their stories, the contributors — some of whom were born and raised here in Hawai'i, and some of whom came to O‘ahu later in life — reflect on the intersection between tolerant native Hawaiian values and condemning Western ones, and how that has affected their lives in a place many outsiders consider “paradise.”
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