One of the greatest journeys of the human experience is the struggle to accept oneself and live authentically. 2014 Hawaiian documentary Kumu Hina lifts the veil on the misunderstood and marginalized experience of gendered individuals whose identity cannot be defined by the broad strokes of contemporary Western categorization. For many Native Hawaiians, authenticity is at the heart of the human experience. Living authentically is one of the highest honors individuals can bestow upon themselves, their families, and their communities. Freeing oneself of gender- categorization is one of many ways of reaching authenticity.
“A mahu is an individual that straddles somewhere in the middle of the male and female binary. It does not define their sexual preference or gender expression because gender roles, gender expressions, and sexual relationships have all been severely influenced by the changing times. It is dynamic. It is like life.”
Kumu Hina follows the journey of Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (“Hina”), a teacher at a Hawaiian charter school in Honolulu, who is mahu. Kumu Hina explores the role of mahu in Hawaiian society through the lens of a Native Hawaiian who is deeply rooted in the traditions of her ancestors.