For the first time, a Mexican transgendered native makes the cover of "Vogue"

The "muxes", the third genre recognized in Mexico, are an integral part of the indigenous Zapotec culture in the south of the country.

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Estrella Vasquez, a "muxe" on the cover of "Vogue" magazine, poses for a photo as she paints a huipil, a traditional garment used on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, at her home in Juchitan, state of Oaxaca, Mexico, November 19, 2019. JOSE OF JESUS ​​CORTES / REUTERS

In one hundred and twenty years of publication, it's a first. The magazine Vogue chose to cover a transgender woman from a Mexican indigenous community, says the British daily The Guardian, Thursday 21 November. This "muxe", which defines a third genre recognized in Mexico, will be featured in the Mexican and English editions of December.

The term "muxe", which comes from Spanish "Mujer", meaning woman, means transgender natives. Appropriating the attributes attached to the feminine gender, the muxes are often very made up and dressed in dresses with big flowers, the huipils. Handmade pink fan, Estrella Vazquez, 37-year-old muxe, poses in cover of Vogue wearing one of those traditional outfits that are found mostly in the state of Oaxaca.

"In a world where labels seem essential, muxes appear as a figure that refuses to be cataloged. The third genre has an important role in history », can we read on the Twitter account of Vogue in Mexico.

Through this editorial choice, the management opposes the discriminations suffered by muxes, especially in Mexico City where they are particularly poorly perceived. Historically, the country is, in fact, imbued with a very strong Catholic tradition that feeds homophobic and transphobic prejudices.

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"A big step"

In August, Estrella Vasquez, who had never heard of Vogue, was invited by the magazine to participate in a photo shoot with other muxes. "All the people who saw this blanket congratulate me", commented the thirty-year-old, saying that "This coverage is an important step."

Muxes would be thousands in Mexico, according to the "Guardian"

"Discrimination continues, but it's less visible than before", continues the model, originally from Juchitan de Zaragoza, a village in southern Mexico that includes the largest community of muxes, or about 5,000 people. While muxes are invisible in Mexico City, it is not uncommon to see them parade in Gay Pride or participate in cultural events organized across the country. There are no statistics available to identify muxes, but they would be thousands in Mexico, according to the Guardian.

In the cities where they are located, they occupy a well-defined place, taking care of the elderly in particular. A job that has given them prestige in Mexican families, shaped by a tenacious machismo culture where men dominate the home. The muxes also played a leading role following an 8.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Juchitan in 2017 – many of them working to get families and friends trapped out of the rubble.

In 2017, the French edition of Vogue had the 24-year-old transsexual model Valentina Sampaio put on the cover. "Valentina is the glam banner of a cause in motion", commented Emmanuelle Alt, editor of the magazine, in her editorial. And to conclude: "The day a transsexual poses in one of a magazine and it will not be necessary to write an editorial on the subject, we will know that the battle is won. "

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