A growing chorus of local leaders and organizations - including Honolulu Pride, Trans Spectrum Hawai'i, GLBT Caucus, Rainbow Family 808, and Equality Hawai'i - have condemned recent transphobic statements by Tito Montes, the President of the Hawaii Republican Assembly, against Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu as part of an attack on the DOE's Pono Choices curriculum. Montes' statement can be found here. Pride At Work Hawai'i has issued the following statement in response:
January 23, 2014
Pride At Work Hawai'i strongly condemns the recent hateful statement of Hawaii Republican Assembly (HIRA) President Tito Montes against O'ahu Island Burial Council chair and Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee candidate Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu. As an organization advocating for full equality and inclusiveness in our workplaces and our unions for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer workers, we are outraged by Mr. Montes' attempt to denigrate Mrs. Wong-Kalu, a respected kumu hula, educator, and Hawaiian-rights advocate, on the basis of her gender identity. Pride At Work Hawai'i calls upon Mr. Montes and HIRA to immediately retract the statement, apologize to Mrs. Wong-Kalu, and join human rights advocates in fighting discrimination and intolerance against people on the basis of their gender identity and expression.
In Mr. Montes' December 23, 2013 statement on the HIRA website, part of an unfounded and ill-informed attack on the DOE’s Pono Choices curriculum, he made denigrating claims about Kumu Hina's gender identity and presentation and negative insinuations about her work with youth. The statement is all too indicative of the intolerance, bigotry, and violence our transgender brothers and sisters face here in Hawai‘i and around the US. Transgender people face unemployment rates double the national average, extremely high levels of workplace harassment, and four times the rate of homelessness. More than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to workplace discrimination, leading many to hide their gender or gender transition.
Mrs. Wong-Kalu - Kumu Hina to her many students - proudly identifies as mahuwahine, educates fellow Kanaka Maoli about the cultural role of mahu, and teaches her students tolerance and respect for all. She is an important leader and role model in the LGBTIQ community and among Kanaka Maoli. As LGBTIQ workers and allies, we thank her for her leadership and stand in solidarity with her, and all of our transgender, mahuwahine and mahukane brothers and sisters, in calling for justice and inclusiveness and an end to the intolerant bullying exemplified by HIRA and Mr. Montes.