In the latest Guardian documentary we meet three muxes, people whose gender identity is unique to the Oaxaca region and the indigenous Zapoteca culture
In Juchitán, Mexico, muxes – children identified as male at birth, but who choose at a young age to be raised as female – are embraced as part of the community.
Being muxe is often confused with being transgender, but it is an identity specific to the Oaxaca region and the indigenous Zapoteca culture. Having a muxe person in the family has come to be seen as good luck and even a blessing. But life outside Juchitán is not always easy. For the documentary Muxes, the director Shaul Schwarz reconnects with the characters and culture he photographed extensively from 2002-06.
Muxes is commissioned by the Guardian in collaboration with The Filmmaker Fund.
Film-maker’s portrait: Shaul Schwarz
Shaul Schwarz is an award-winning photojournalist based in Brooklyn, New York. His debut documentary, Narco Cultura, premiered at the Sundance film festival in 2013. His most recent film, Trophy, investigates the powerhouse industries of big-game hunting, breeding and wildlife conservation, and has played at festivals around the world – accompanied by much debate. Schwarz is a regular photographic contributor to Time magazine and National Geographic, and has directed content for Discovery Channel, History Channel and CNN. In 2016, he directed the Emmy-nominated web series A Year in Space, produced with Time’s Red Border Films, and co-directed the documentary Aida’s Secrets, which premiered at Hot Docs 2016. Schwarz is the founder of Reel Peak Films.
Muxe and other gender identities
Muxe is a little known tradition, but the Guardian has previously written about muxe people in the context of a travel article. Our coverage of the transgender experience is extensive, but the muxe identity has more in common with being non-binary, which is explained further in this film. The Guardian has spoken to a growing younger population who identify as non-binary, interviewed the creator of the TV series Transparent, which has brought discussions of trans rights to the mainstream, and written about the decline of gender stereotyping. We recently reported on an inspiring music project giving new hope to indigenous Zapotec young people in Oaxaca.
Coming up: On the Road
On the Road offers an intimate guide to the lives of young Nigerian sex workers and the support workers who attempt to help them on La Bonifica del Tronto – the ironically named “road of love” on Italy’s Adriatic coast, a world parallel to the everyday lives of local Italians.
Guardian documentaries presents: Tuesday 7 November, 6.20pm, Bertha DocHouse, London WC1
An evening of short documentaries commissioned by the Guardian, featuring hits from the previous months plus a sneak preview of a new film. Watch five of our films, followed by a Q&A with Charlie Phillips (head of documentaries at the Guardian), plus a panel of film-makers including Piers Sanderson (On the Road), Ben Steele (Dearborn, Michigan) and Ilinca Calugareanu (Erica: Man Made).
Source – The Guardian