The Muxes of Juchitán
Juchitán is a town in the southeast of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The town which is largely inhabited by the Zapotec Indigenous people, has not only preserved it’s precolonial language and culture, but has also retained gender identities and roles that transcend the traditional western ones. Those which were subjected onto much of the rest of Mexican society by European colonizers.
This contrasting expression of gender that survives among the Zapotec and Mestizo communities of southern Oaxaca, takes its form in the concept of the muxe. Muxe is a term used to refer to those assigned male at birth, but who identify either as women or as a distinct third-gender. They are an intrinsic part of Zapotec society, and highly respected for the roles they play in families, such as taking care of their elderly parents when their siblings have moved out of the household. Despite the acceptance of them in many rural areas, they face discrimination in more urban areas, mainly by non-Indigenous people who have inherited the Spanish cultural attitude of machismo.