In the largely indigenous communities in and around the town of Juchitán, the world is not divided simply into gay and straight. While Mexico can be intolerant of homosexuality, it can also be quite liberal. In Mexico City, for instance, same-sex domestic partnerships are legally recognized. But nowhere are attitudes toward sex and gender quite as elastic as in towns like Juchitán, in the far reaches of the southern state of Oaxaca.
In this part of Oaxaca — a narrow strip of land known as the Isthmus — the locals make room for a third category, whom they call “muxes” (pronounced MOO-shays). Muxes are men who consider themselves women and live in a socially sanctioned netherworld between the two genders.
“Muxe” is a Zapotec word derived from the Spanish “mujer,” or woman; it is reserved for males who, from boyhood, have felt themselves drawn to living as a woman, anticipating roles set out for them by the community. Each year in November the muxes, along with roughly 1,500 guests, come together in Juchitán. They choose a “reina,” or princess, and the mayor bestows the crown. The party costs around $10,000 to put together and requires a full year of preparation by the organizers.
EDIT (4/13/13): It has been called to my attention that information in this article is problematic. I appreciate being informed about the inherently inaccurate elements of the article, including mistranslations of “reina” and misrepresentation of the third gender/transgender community. I am more than willing to invite conversation and constructive corrections because I want to learn.