TIJUANA, Mexico — At the San Ysidro Port of Entry, there’s 3-hour line to cross into the United States. Street vendors fill the spaces between cars, but there’s a particular person who calls the attention of curious people.
Muxxxe is a third gender visual artist and rapper from Tijuana, Mexico. Third gender means they don’t want to be restricted to the identity of solely a man or woman.
“Basically being a non-binary person or a trans person is not conforming with these binary constructs of gender that is male or female," Muxxxe said. "So anything in between or outside this box is fitting into this category.”
When they cover their face, the possibilities of who they want to be are endless.
“I believe that as humans, once we see someone’s face we, start recognizing female or male features and that’s why we start labeling people," Muxxxe said. "So for me, it was important to present myself faceless because I wanted to be able to be and do whatever I wanted.”
Muxxxe says they hope to make it big creating a space for other gender-fluid artists to feel included in mass media. Muxxxe is also using the opportunity to educate people.
“In my work, I make a critical reflection on what it means to be a queer Latino living on the border of a third-world country.”
As Muxxxe makes their presence known on the streets of Tijuana, heads turn, and you get reactions like "what is that?" Mostly because Latino culture has long revolved around traditional gender norms. However, that is changing.
“Well my family is very, very open because most of my relatives are gay or lesbian, so it was never a struggle with that," Muxxxe said. "I mean obviously my family being Mexican and Catholic – they expected me to have this ‘regular life.’”
Many other Latinos in the LGBTQ community have experienced something similar, like Gerardo Gurrola Jr. who works with the San Diego Latinx Coalition to build a welcoming atmosphere for queer people. Gurrola says Latino culture is shifting to be more inclusive, but he says there’s a reason why it’s taken so long for the LGBTQ community to be recognized.
“Whether or not people are religious, a lot of our culture is based on Christianity in general and sometimes more specifically Catholicism so when you mix those things together, they’re very strong and they have a big tradition of saying how things ought to be done,” Gurrola said.
In the Spanish language, there’s not really another option beyond male and female.
“In English it’s very easy because you have they/their – like very ambiguous terms to refer to things," Muxxxe said. "And in Spanish, we don’t. We have like el/ella, like a very binary language.”
Gurrola says that’s why the term Latinx was created, so you have an option beyond Latina or Latino.
“It brings to the forefront the fact that we’re also queer because the x shows that it is neither ‘a’ nor ‘o,’" Gurrola said.
In Gurrola's opinion, it comes down to love.
"It is exactly what tears our families apart is how much they absolutely love us and how much they don't want to see us get beaten down for who we are," Gurrola said.
As the LGBTQ community becomes more accepted in society – and people like Muxxxe get in the spotlight – Latino parents will know that their kids will be welcomed no matter how they identify themselves.