By: Mckenzie Gassner

Muxes: Breaking the Gender Dichotomy

Muxe is a zapotec word derived from the Spanish word “mujer,” and refers to men who consider themselves women in society. In Juchitan there are nearly 3000 inhabitants that refer to themselves as muxes and the word muxes (pronounced moo-shays), parallel to the word homosexual in the United Sates of America, does not hold any derogatory connotations in their community.

Muxes of Juchitan

In a country where machismo is prevalent, it is surprising that this “third gender category” is not only accepted in Juchitan, but welcomed. "We are the princesses in a land of machos," a muxe in Juchitan proudly proclaims. Anthropologists speculate that this cultural acceptance dates back to pre-colombian Mexico, and has to do with the history of the cross dressing Aztec priests and the Mayan gods who were both male and female. Although this acceptance was wiped out by Spanish colonizers in the 1500s by forcing the conversion of Catholicism, the muxe identity was preserved in Juchitan.

The local Juchitan legend of the muxes claims that God gave the Saint Vincent Ferrer (the patron saint of Juchitan) a bag full of muxes and instructed him to spread them all over the villages in Mexico. Saint Vincent Ferrer was very tired and tripped when he arrived in Juchitan, his bag broke and all the muxes spilled out into the village of Juchitan. according to the Juchitecans, this legend explains why there is such a concentrated number of muxes in Juchitan in comparison to the rest of Mexico.

Saint Vincent Ferrer

Muxes express their identities in different ways, for instance some dress as women and take hormones to change their body, while others wear male attire. Muxes who wear male attire and make-up can be referred to as "pintadas."
More common however in today's generation are the muxes who dress as women, referred to as "vestidas," and can be seen wearing t
Traditional Huipiles
he traditional huipiles . Huipiles are tunics or blouses stitched with intricate designs that often display the wearer's personal beliefs. Many muxes marry women and have children, while others marry men and assume the woman's role. In the partnership between a male and a muxe, the male is not necessarily considered a homosexuaiturbide3.gifl.

Muxes are often seen as good luck charms to the family, in part because of the arduous role they play in society. Many muxes hold jobs as shop owners, as well as take on the domestic tasks of cooking and cleaning. When all the males of the family grow up and leave home, the muxes stay and assume the task of taking care of their elderly parents. It is not difficult to see why muxes play such an integral role in Juchitan, and are seen as intellectual and artistic gifts to the community.

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