In Itzmo of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico, and in the heart of the Zapotec culture, the muxes are considered as a third gender within society.
Gender identity is a social and cultural construction that has been linked to sexuality generating the binomial gender-sex, settling as the dominant formula in most cultures, however, there are some cultures where it has reformulated the concept to suit their own socio-cultural needs, as is the case of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec “muxes”. The concept of gender identity goes far beyond the sexual orientation of the person, and is shaped by social and cultural factors.
The “muxes” are integrated in the generic organization of the community and develop socially recognized roles in both the socio-cultural organization and within the family. There is a peculiarly permissive attitude towards homosexuality, effeminacy and transvestism in this part of the state of Oaxaca. Some mothers educate one of his sons in traditional female roles, to do the function of keeping unmarried daughter and take care of parents in old age.
The “muxe” has a significant role in the construction of male sexuality, as it is usual for a heterosexual male starts having sex with a “muxe”. Women reserved virginity for marriage. So sex of men with “muxes” are not considered homosexual practices, but an affirmation of masculinity, while the man is the active part of the relationship.
The weight of the female universe within the Zapotec culture and strong ethnic identity legitimizes “muxes” and his figure in society, however, the clash between tradition and fast modernity that permeates society Itzmo, is leading to penetration of marginalization and violence, unknown phenomena to date; putting at risk the traditional model.