The muxes are a kind of gender diversity found primarily in rural Mexico, specifically in southern Oaxaca among the Zapotec people. They are assigned male at birth, but express themselves in feminine ways. Some muxe identify as men, some as women, and some as simply muxe.
The Zapotec language is gender-neutral, so there is no indigenous reason to force a specific gender on the muxe. The muxe identity is a part of Zapotec culture and does not translate neatly into the assumptions of other cultural contexts. The culture allows for some significant ambiguity in regards the the muxes, which is only amplified by globalization and contact with LGBT organizing outside of the region.
Even the Roman Catholic Church in that region accommodates the muxes. Legend suggests that the muxe are connected to Saint Vicente Ferrer, but muxes are actually believed to pre-date colonization. They play an important role in preparing fiestas.
The acceptance of muxes within Mexico is not universal. Bullying and discrimination remain an issue, despite high levels of acceptance in Oaxaca. Some muxe who have been rejected by their families in other parts of the country flock to Juchitán to experience acceptance.
Life Outside the Binary: Meet Mexico’s Muxe Community Celebrating Genderqueerness (Culture Trip, 2019)
The Third Gender of Southern Mexico (BBC, 2018)
Guardian story (2017):
Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on October 17, 2019.
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