This community in southern Mexico has defied the gender binary for generations

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04/07/2023

In the town of Juchitán de Zaragoza, located on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca, one variation of a local legend goes something like this. San Vicente Ferrer, the patron saint of Juchitán, was carrying three bags of seeds meant to be distributed around the world. The first contained male seeds, the second contained female seeds and a third bag contained a mixture of the two. But as San Vicente was passing through Juchitán, the third bag ruptured — and from it sprang the town’s famed community of muxes. Muxes, a group long recognized within the indigenous Zapotec people of Mexico, are often referred to as a third gender. Embodying characteristics of both men and women, their existence challenges the gender binary that is so deeply entrenched in Western society.

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