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Oaxaca’s Third Gender: Man, Woman, Muxe

Víctor Cata, Bamby Salcedo, Maritza Sanchez
Moderated by Zackary Drucker
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Episode Summary

The program is conducted in both Spanish and English.

Anthropologists have traced the Meso-American acceptance of people of mixed gender back to pre-Columbian Mexico accounts of Aztec priests and Mayan gods who cross-dressed and were considered both male and female. In the shifting landscape of gender identity, what might we learn from the indigenous Zapotec people of Oaxaca’s isthmus region, who embrace a third gender—the muxe—within their communities? Zackary Drucker, transgender multimedia artist and producer of the Amazon series Transparent , moderates a conversation with Victor Cata, Zapotec historian, writer, and linguist; Bamby Salcedo, founder of the Los Angeles-based TransLatin@Coalition, and Maritza Sanchez, Embajadora de los muxes en el exterior (Ambassador of Muxes in the Exterior.)

Simultaneous interpretation was provided by Antena Los Ángeles. This program was produced as part of The Getty's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LAinitiative.

Participant(s) Bio

Víctor Cata was born in Juchitán de Saragoza, Oaxaca. He holds a master's degree in American Indian Linguistics and is a grant recipient for his work in Indigenous Literature from the Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes. Cata is the author of Nacasinú diixa / Sólo somos memoria, a bilingual book in Zapotec and Spanish. His stories have been made into plays and translated into Portuguese. He is a member of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte and was a visiting scholar at the Smithsonian studying tonal phenomena in Zapotec languages.

Zackary Drucker is an independent artist, cultural producer, and trans woman who breaks down the way we think about gender, sexuality, and seeing. She has performed and exhibited her work internationally in museums, galleries, and film festivals, including the Whitney Biennial 2014, MoMA PS1, Hammer Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, MCA San Diego, and SF MoMA, among others. Drucker is an Emmy-nominated Producer for the docu-series This Is Me, as well as a Producer on Golden Globe and Emmy-winning Transparent.

Maritza Sanchez is from Santa Ana del Valle, Oaxaca, and migrated to LA in the 90s as a teenager. As a child, she recalls her sexual orientation changing when she found out she was attracted to men. She only felt comfortable “coming out of the closet” in Los Angeles, a place that felt safe and where she’d be tolerated for her sexual preference. Sanchez identifies as transgender and as “muxe,” a Oaxacan, Mexican designation from the Zapotec Isthmus region of the state. After many decades of working with others to promote tolerance of others regardless of sexual orientation, she is respected and admired by the community in her hometown. She was crowned the queen of the “Vela Muxe” in Los Angeles in 2014.

Bamby Salcedo is the President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition and a co-founder of the Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness, a multiservice space for transgender people in Los Angeles. In 2016, Salcedo participated in The United State of Women panels at the White House, sharing the stage with Vice President Biden. Salcedo has been a featured speaker at the LGBTQ People of Color Summit, the 2015 National HIV Prevention Conference, and the United States Conference on AIDS. More information about the documentary on Salcedo’s life and work can be found at; Salcedo has also recently been featured in People en Español, Latina Magazine, Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, and the 2015 OUT 100 list.

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