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Father Tony

"Muxe" is a zapotec word pronounced Moo-shay

Filed By Father Tony | December 12, 2008 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Mexico

I hope I was the only one who missed this article in the New York Times last week.

Fourteen amazing photos and some equally amazing comments from the parents of the muxes who simply believe that God sent these children into the world to be as they are. Why fight it? Why get upset? They are a gift from God. The USA is so screwed up.

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Because gender identity and sexuality are totally the same thing....

And women identified folk totally deserve male pronouns...

I'm glad for the culture in some ways...but the nytimes is full of fail.

I agree, A. Language in the piece gets an "F," but the topic gets an "A+" Remember when these things wouldn't be discussed in "polite society?" What? 10 years ago?! At least they're making a fumbling start. Someone send in GLAAD!

Angela Brightfeather | December 12, 2008 10:01 PM

Fr. Tony,

Thank you for posting this. I did see the article, but I did not think to say anything about it because usually there is little interest displayed about such things.

If you strip away any thought of Hate Crimes, ENDA and all the political "stuff" that we get bogged down with all the time in trying to find a way to achieve equality, what the Muxes have is pretty much exactly what people who are Transgender want. When you look at the picture of the young Muxes just coming out and the pride on her face, maybe everyone can understand that is want all Transgender people want. We want to be proud of who we are and to love ourselves and what we can do for our communities.

I know that sometimes that may seem irrelavant to some people, but the fact that the Muxes are accepted and that they do have a place in their community due to their traditions, allows them to have that basic pride that gives them the confidence to be the contributing, artistic and lovely people that they wish to be. The long history of their being a vital part of their community dating back thousands of years in their culture is exactly what has been stripped away and taken from American Transgender people because of Judeo/Christian teachings.

I feel a deep and ongoing kinship with the Muxes because I know and understand them as they do I, and the feelings and need we have to be worthy of inclusion in our communities.

When people ask Transgender people what they really want, perhaps they should look at the faces of the Muxes to get that answer. Perhaps they can understand that with that much beauty in your heart, the most difficult thing is to have to hide it and not feel proud about it. To live in fear that you will become a victim instead of a part of society that is valued and to have to fight tooth and nail for any chance to be considered equal enough to others, to be able to make a societal contribution that extends beyond the fact that we and they are Trans people. After all, that and the Muxes is our tradition and our heritage. It is our history and our goal.

Having to pass legislation to get to that goal must seem so silly and such a waist of time if you are a Muxes. Would that I could feel the same.

As far as the language used, while it's understandable that people might be skeptical of the NY Times, given past problems with their coverage of LGBT issues, I for one am not an expert on Muxe culture (and I kind of doubt anyone else here is either). As helen boyd pointed out in a good observation on the issue:

- Can we tell a mother of a muxe that she is wrong for using the "he" pronoun for her child?

- Do we know that a muxe would find that problematic?

- Do we even know that someone muxe would identify as what we think of as trans?

FWIW, helen also links to an interview with a Muxe who uses male pronouns, although he also points out that he doesn't speak for all Muxe.

Trying to overlay one's cultural understanding, whether consciously or not, over those of another is risky at best.

On the whole, I think the article and the parents comments did a world of good.

That's an interesting article. Thanks for pointing it out, Tony.

I think there does need to be an intervention in the American Progressivist movement to let them know that equality, acceptance, and autonomy aren't new concepts, and post-enlightenment liberalism doesn't have a monopoly on them.

People have accepted a lot of things or not for a long time. And we're in a certain epoch and culture that accepts certain identities, actions, and behaviors, and not others. Just like every other culture and period of time.

A cultural note is in order here.

Many Latina transfeminine folks use male pronouns or invoke male heritage in some way.

So, the pronoun issue is much more complicated that it is for the US centric view.

As Lena pointed out, there are serious crosscultural issues here, that really cannot be addressed properly in an English newspaper.

The Xicana trans women I hung with in my youth openly IDed as "men," only female and feminine. Or some other combination that a single pronoun can't even begin to cover. You'll find just about every flavor of identity represented in Latina and Xicana trans feminine folks in my lil corner of South Texas and Nuevo Leon.
I also adopted female pronouns as an Americanism, something I did when I moved to the Northeast united states. Not all trans woman demand or require the US female pronoun.

Thanks for the article, Tony. Just promise me you won't publicly throw shade on us again, as you did on our last encounter.