Muxe

Posted by – December 11, 2008

The NYT did an article about the Oaxacan tradition of recognizing male-bodied people who grow up to live and fulfill a female role. What’s interesting to me is that a few people on our boards objected to the one time that one of the muxe was referred to as “he,” which started an interesting conversation about cultural imperialism, effectively.

  • That is, can we tell a mother of a muxe that she is wrong for using the “he” pronoun for her child?
  • Do we know that a muxe would find that problematic?
  • Do we even know that someone muxe would identify as what we think of as trans?

I don’t think we can know any of that, but I do know that I’ve had enough people tell me I can’t call Betty my husband to object to anyone saying they know for sure what pronouns to use. An interview with a muxe that appeared in a gay magazine of Argentina (English translation) helps explain: he uses he for himself but does explain he doesn’t speak for all muxe, too.

Interestingly, perhaps, someone at the LGBT Blogger event asked me & Autumn about all the “correct” language issues within the trans, & we both kind of rolled our eyes. She points them to GLAAD’s usage guidelines, & I said he’d never make every trans person happy but to ask the person, if possible, or to ask others who might know. (I also mentioned that being upfront about feeling ignorant was entirely acceptable, & might defuse a lot of tempers.)

We didn’t quite come to a conclusion, but one of our frequent posters ended on this note:

“Trying to overlay one’s cultural understanding, whether consciously or not, over those of another is risky at best.”

Which is an excellent rule of thumb.

4 Comments on Muxe

  1. JudeTheNew says:

    Hot off the presses…

    Nancy Sutley, a deputy mayor of Los Angeles for energy and environment, will chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

    Full Wash. Post article here.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....id=topnews

    She’s deputy head of LA’s environmental whatever. Openly lesbian.

    Well, you don’t think we’d get a trans person this early, did you? ;-)

    take care,
    -Jude

    ps: I’m hoping you and Betty can make it down to the IFGE here in Virginia in February. yes, I know, Feb. is NOT the month to visit DC, but, well, we’ve talked to Denise about that. Hope to meet you there.

  2. JudeTheNew says:

    On your entry above… very interesting question came to mind:

    when do the rights of the individual (for instance, a muxe saying that they’re okay with either he or she, or more interesting, only “he”) outweigh the rights of the community (don’t call a muxe a “he” for some reason of larger social/cultural progress).

    Would we have folks in the T community who would say that it’s not right to call a muxe a he, even if the muxe is okay with it?

    When does a community or a society get to “enforce” rights on someone that they might not particularly want?

    This kind of crud running thru my head while I’m supposed to be working. sheesh

  3. helenboyd says:

    re: Nancy Sutley – you should read my previous post!
    http://www.myhusbandbetty.com/.....h-the-new/

  4. hispartnertrudy says:

    Just a reminder that “rule of thumb” is an expression that hearkens to the rule of terror in which women were by law property (and their husbands were legally permitted to thrash them as long as the switch used to do so was no larger around than the man’s thumb.) This is such a common expression that it’s easy to slip and use it…. wish there were a more zingy alternative than, say, “guideline”.

Leave a Reply