For the first time in the magazine’s 120 year history, a muxe is on the cover of Vogue. Muxe are a third gender in southern Mexico.
Estrella Vasquez is a 37-year-old weaver and designer from Juchitan in Oaxaca, Mexico who was, along with a dozen other muxes, invited to participate in a photo shot by British photographer Tim Walker. When Vasquez was first invited to be in the magazine in August, she hadn’t ever heard of Vogue.
On the December 2019 cover of Mexico’s edition, Vasquez wears a traditional Huipil, a beautiful garment covered with hand-painted flowers that is worn in the area. The image will also appear inside an issue of British Vogue.
Muxe are a traditional third gender among the indigenous Zapotec people of the Oaxaca region in southern Mexico. While some my attempt to call them, that’s not exactly accurate. Many cultures throughout the world haven’t subscribed to the relatively modern Western concept of a gender binary, and have long recognized multiple genders.
This visibility and celebration of a third gender comes at an important time, when 63 trans people were murdered in Mexico this year, second most only to Brazil. Vasquez says the cover is a welcome sign that things are changing. “I think it’s a huge step,” she told Reuters. “There’s still discrimination, but it’s not as much now and you don’t see it like you once did.”
Vasquez also expressed how much the cover has meant for her personally. “Everyone is seeing this cover, everyone is congratulating me,” she said. “I don’t know; it’s just hard to make sense of the emotions I’m feeling. It almost makes me want to cry.” Go ahead and cry, prima! You deserve it!
RELATED | The Striking Muxe: Mexico’s Third Gender