Word originating in ancient Hawaii and around Polynesia for a third-gendered person, that is, not male nor female, but both or neither.
In pre-contact Hawaii (before white explorers and missionaries brought their homophobia with them), mahus were considered special and assumed respected and traditional roles within the communities.
After colonization, it became common for "mahu" to be used pejoratively to refer mostly to gay men and drag queens, but sometimes also butch women, and transgendered people of all kinds.
Although it is now most commonly used in a disdainful way, some have decided to remember their history and reclaim the word with pride, calling themselves "mahu," just as the words, "queer," "fag," and "dyke," have been reclaimed by many.
"King Kamehameha I of Hawaii had mahus dwell near his house because he considered them lucky, and in Tahiti every village had one mahu because it was thought to be fortunate for the village."