The Meaning of Mahu


Mahu is the Hawaiian term for people who embody both male and female spirit - or what Westerners call transgender.  This animated scene from the PBS/Independent Lens film "KUMU HINA - A Place in the Middle"- describes how early Hawaiians valued and respected māhū as healers, caretakers, and teachers of ancient tradition. When Christian missionaries arrived in the 1800s, they failed to comprehend the spiritual and cultural significance of māhū and did everything they could to abolish them. But despite 200 years of colonization and repression, Hawaiians have retained their respect for gender diversity, and people “in the middle” continue to play an important and visible role in modern Hawaiian society.  

Learn more at and  

There is a map of gender diversity around the world at

Buy the DVD
Trending Videos
Fantastic Fungi
A Quest for Meaning
Featured Films

How to Use this Library

  • Use the Explore button to filter content by type and topic. 99% of our 5000+ video library is entirely free. Selections stack, so you can view Film Types about Specific Topics.

  • You're welcome and encouraged to submit videos directly to our library. Just click +Add Video at the top of the site and paste the video URL to get started. We share our favorite submissions with our fans on social media and feature them more prominently on the site.

  • Want to support us and watch some great films in the process? Our $5/mo Patrons get access to a growing number of our favorite documentaries that are unavailable for free.

  • Filmmakers: Interested in our TVOD or SVOD services? Contact us.



Films For Action is a video library for people who want to change the world.


If you have a site or film suggestion, want to help out, or you're a filmmaker looking to collaborate, drop us a line via our contact page. Let's be the media!