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Indigenous third gender person graces history-making cover of Vogue Mexico and Britain

Lily Wakefield November 22, 2019
Muxe cover vogue mexico

A Mexican muxe takes part in the traditional procession during the Muxes Festival in Juchitán, Mexico. (Jan Sochor/Getty Images)

A muxe person, the indigenous third gender unique to Mexico, has graced the cover of Vogue for the first time in the magazine’s 120-year history.

In the Oaxaca region of Southern Mexico, the indigenous Zapotec community’s muxe (pronounced moo-she) people are a distinct third gender, although they are often confused with trans women. They use a variety of pronouns and have differing sexual orientations.

The cover photo for the December 2019 issue of Vogue Mexico, as well as next month’s British Vogue, will feature Estrella Vazquez, 37, who in August had never heard of Vogue.

The weaver and designer was invited by the magazine to participate in a photo shoot with a group of other muxe people because Vogue Mexico wanted to highlight the indigenous cultures in Oaxaca.

According to Reuters, Vasquez said of the experience: “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.

“Everyone is seeing this cover, everyone is congratulating me. I don’t know; it’s just hard to make sense of the emotions I’m feeling. It almost makes me want to cry.”

View this post on Instagram

MUXE’ Naa: Érase una vez una tierra llena de magia, filigranas en oro e iguanas, en la que la cálida brisa aún susurra LEYENDAS al oído de los transeúntes. Es aquí donde, desde tiempos INMEMORIALES, comienza la historia del tercer género. En mundo en el que las etiquetas parecen imprescindibles, los #muxes aparecen como esa figura que se rehúsa a ser encasillada. El tercer género tiene un importante rol dentro de la historia #zapoteca y se convierte en la prueba viviente de que la magia ancestral aún camina sobre esta tierras. [LINK EN BIO para ver el artículo completo] — Esta historia es una de dos portadas de #VogueDiciembre para nuestra edición de #México. Cerramos este increíble 2019 celebrando nuestro 20 aniversario con maravillosas portadas de principio a fin. ✨ — En esta ocasión y por primera vez, #VogueMexico y @BritishVogue se han unido en una sesión de moda para celebrar nuestro 20 aniversario. Con talentos mexicanos y británicos, esta colaboración creativa les dio a nuestros equipos la oportunidad de intercambiar culturas e ideas capturadas a través del lente del grandioso fotógrafo británico, #TimWalker, produciendo así una historia conjunta para ambas revistas. ¡No te la pierdas! — 📌Encuentra la edición de #VogueDiciembre el 24 de noviembre en quioscos del aeropuerto, 26 de noviembre en tiendas Vips, el 27 de noviembre en tiendas Sanborns y a partir de #diciembre en todo el país. — Fotografía: #TimWalker Realización: @kphelan123 Texto: @karina_ulloa Producción hecha en colaboración con @britishvogue #Vogue20

A post shared by Vogue México y Latinoamérica (@voguemexico) on

The need for such a “huge step” is clear, when this year 63 transgender people were murdered in the country, the second highest number of any country in the world after Brazil.

Vogue Mexico wrote on Instagram: “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.”

The muxe people were beautifully captured in the photo shoot by British photographer Tim Walker.

Muxes have historically taken on the prestigious role of caring for their ageing parents, and in 2017, muxes led recovery efforts in the city of Juchitan after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico that killed 96 people.

More: british vogue, cover, fashion, muxe, Muxes, oaxaca, photo shoot, Third Gender, tim walker, vogue, vogue mexico, zapotec

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