For the first time, a third-gender model has been used on the cover of Vogue Mexico.
It is believed to also be the first time in Vogue’s 120-year history that a “muxe” (pronounced MOO-she) model has appeared in one of their magazines. The term muxe is a Mexican identity for indigenous third-gender individuals, derived from the Spanish word for woman, mujer.
Muxes, particular to the Zapotec community of southern Mexico, have been considered a third gender in Mexican culture for centuries. Other cultures worldwide also acknowledge native third-gender individuals, in countries including Tahiti, India, and Samoa.
The cover, which will appear on the December edition of the magazine, features 37-year-old Zapoteca muxe, Estrella Vazquez. The photoshoot from which It is drawn was a collaboration between Vogue Mexico and British Vogue, with the images to be used in both magazines. Vogue Mexico will run two covers from the shoot on its December edition, and one will feature the image of Vazquez.
In a post on Instagram, Vogue México y Latinoamérica (@voguemexico) said:
“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.”
Vazquez, who is a designer and weaver, commented to Reuters that Vogue’s decision to include a third-gender model is a reflection the increasing awareness and acceptance of trans and gender non-conforming people in Mexico.
“I think it’s a huge step,” they said. “There’s still discrimination, but it’s not as much now and you don’t see it like you once did.”
LGBTQ people continue to face prejudice in many parts of Mexico, but there have been advances in trans rights within the last few years. In many states, trans people are now allowed to change the sex on their birth certificate and official documents by simple request to do so, without the requirement to undergo surgical procedures or obtain a doctor’s diagnosis.