This business owner has embraced all that she is. She wants others to do the same

“I have been bullied my entire life because of the fact that I was different. I don’t allow it to discourage who I am."
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 2:57 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 13, 2022 at 10:40 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - From a young age, Kaleimomi Timoteo knew she was unique.

“The first memory that I have, I would say maybe 4 or 5 years old, was that something was different. And at the time I felt like something was wrong,” she said.

That feeling of “wrong” would soon melt away as she grew to discover her authentic self.

“I am a transsexual,” Timoteo said. “That means I identify as female. I was born male genetically.”

“But I don’t let that define who I am.”

Timoteo started her lengthy transition process at age 16.

She faces criticism and discrimination, but says she doesn’t let that rule her life.

As the co-owner of The Poly Dollies, she works alongside her sister and a team of mana wahine to bring designer products to at-home shoppers.

“We’ve faced struggles because I am the business owner so unfortunately there are people who don’t wanna work with us — or me — needless to say. To be honest, it’s their loss,” Timoteo said.

She added that she’s been bullied her entire life for being different.

“I don’t allow it to discourage who I am because ignorance is going to be there wherever you turn.”

Timoteo is embracing her unique traits not only through her business, but also on stage as Hawaii’s first-ever Miss Continental Plus. She recently flew to Chicago to represent the islands in the coveted and glamorous competition.

“To be on stage at a national level with the best of the best from the country was such a rush of emotions. And I was so proud and honored to showcase my colors and talents there as well,” she said. “The journey to get to Chicago and to present a package is definitely not for the faint of heart for sure.”

Along the way, Timoteo also stays true to her Polynesian pride. “With the Samoan culture, it is accepted to be fa’afaine. However, the Samoan culture is very based on faith, family and football.”

And while she says she didn’t turn out to be the football star her father may have wanted, she’s blessed to have familial support in everything she does.

“Being LGBTQ , mahu wahine or mahu kane, and to be viewed at as wrong is actually a colonized point of view in a sense, where that has been a part of our history and our DNA from the start across all of Polynesia and around the world,” she said.

Timoteo is also using her voice to amplify the ongoing fight for trans rights.

“At the core of it, we are humans with feelings and a heart. We have goals, dreams and aspirations just like a heterosexual person would. I don’t think we should discredit anyone who is trans,” she said.

“We should let people be who they want to be.”