Hawai’i Congresswoman Jill Tokuda Shares Legend of Kapaemahu on House Floor

by Brooke Migdon – The Hill – April 27, 2023:

Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii) on the House floor on Wednesday celebrated the recent victory of Hawaii native Sasha Kekauoha, best known by the stage name Sasha Colby, who placed first this month in the 15th season of the MTV drag competition show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

“From the very beginning of the competition, Sasha, a seasoned drag legend, drew upon her ethnic heritage and childhood trauma as sources of inspiration for her performances,” Tokuda said Wednesday.

Colby, 37, this month became the first openly transgender woman of color to be crowned “America’s Next Drag Superstar” on the season finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the long-running reality and drag competition series.

“Throughout ‘Drag Race,’ she authentically represented her Hawaiian culture, talking about the legacy she’s building for our home state and about being Mahu,” Tokuda said Wednesday, referring to a third gender recognized in Polynesian culture.

“In ancient Hawaiian days, Mahu were considered extraordinary individuals of male and female spirit who brought their healing powers to O’ahu from Tahiti,” Tokuda said. “Today, trans people are among the most revered members in the Hawaiian community.”

“Amidst ongoing attacks on our LGBTQ+ rights that particularly target trans people and drag queens, her win is not only well deserved, it gives us all hope,” she added.

More than 460 state bills introduced in state legislatures this year target the rights of LGBTQ people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, including a record-shattering number of bills that explicitly target transgender people.

A dozen states are also considering passing legislation that would heavily restrict drag performances. In March, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to ban certain drag shows from taking place in public or where they may be viewed by minors. A federal judge this month temporarily blocked the law from taking effect.

Colby, in an interview with People, this week said “it’s a really scary time” to be transgender in the U.S. She hopes her appearance and ensuing win on this season of “Drag Race” will help usher positive changes for the community.

“I think it’s important for someone like me and for the show to be on such a big platform because if you’re so scared at home — which I remember being as a kid — and you turn on the TV and see something that resonates with you or someone that speaks your language and understands your energy, it can be a lifesaver,” she said.

See video of her comments HERE.