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Vogue Mexico makes history with third-gender cover star

 

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Vogue Mexico has featured a third-gender cover star for the first time. The magazine is believed to be the first in Vogue’s 120-year history to feature a ‘muxe’ (pronounced MOO-she) model.

‘Muxes’ are a Mexican identity for indigenous third-gender individuals. The term is derived from the Spanish word mujer, meaning woman.

Muxes have been regarded as a third gender in Mexican culture for centuries. They are particular to the Zapotec community of southern Mexico.

Related: Tahiti’s ‘third gender’ take center stage in vivid London exhibition

Across the globe, many cultures have recognized those who do not fit into conventional binary definitions of gender. Besides muxes in Mexico, in Tahiti, there are people referred to as ‘Mahu’ (effeminate men) or ‘rae rae’ (transgender). They occupy a similar space to India’s ‘hijras’ (recognized as a third gender in that country) and the ‘fa’afafine’ in Samoan culture.

Vogue Mexico collaborated with British Vogue on its photoshoot (the images will appear in both magazines). Vogue Mexico is running two covers from the shoot on its December edition, and one will feature 37-year-old Zapoteca muxe, Estrella Vazquez.

Vazquez, a designer and weaver, told Reuters that the shoot with Vogue reflects increasing awareness and acceptance of trans and gender non-conforming people in Mexico: “I think it’s a huge step … There’s still discrimination, but it’s not as much now and you don’t see it like you once did.”

 

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In an Instagram posting, Vogue Mexico stated: “In a world in which labels seem essential, muxes appear as that figure that refuses to be typecast.

“The third gender has an important role in the Zapoteca history and becomes the living proof that ancestral magic still walks on this land.”

Related: Three LGBTQ activists murdered in Mexico after a night out

Although LGBTQ people continue to face prejudice in many parts of Mexico, advances have been made regarding trans rights in recent years.

Many states now allow trans people to amend the sex on their birth certificate and official documents simply by requesting to do so, rather than having to undergo surgical procedures or obtain a specific diagnosis from a doctor.

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