By Linda Tooth on February 7, 2024.
I am five weeks into learning about gender and it has been an amazing experience.
The class is learning about the historical importance gender and sexuality have played within many cultures, and we are also learning firsthand how the transgender and medical communities have been thrust into the political landscape of conservatism within Alberta.
I have had conversations with parents whose children are part of the transgender community and I will write about that next week, but for now, I want to share some information on a culture that believes in three genders.
In certain regions of Mexico, there are Indigenous cultures that have females, males and muxes. A muxe, according to some, is born a male and does not exhibit any masculine traits as they mature. Since pre-Hispanic times, muxes have existed and have taken on the role of household duties while the father is working as a farmer or fisherman and the mother is working in the markets selling their wares.
Some say it is a blessing when mothers have sons who are muxes. They have been known to wear Western-style dresses, drag queen outfits, or even men’s clothing. Socially the muxes are not allowed to have long-term relationships or marry, as they are expected to stay at their homes and look after their aging mothers. What an interesting concept.
We as North Americans are so individualistic that we are happy to put our aging parents in nursing homes and maybe visit them when we have time. This culture, which may not dress or act like we would, values their roles in society and has no problem expressing through dress who they are.
Every November in a small town in Mexico, muxes are celebrated with Vela de Las Intrepidas (Vigil of the Intrepids). This festival includes food served by the mothers, drinks and dancing.
Imagine, celebrating a culture that is proud of who they are. We really should try that here. Instead of ostracizing people because they are different or want to be called by a different name, we should embrace them and what they can offer to our community.
Families are being destroyed because their children or other family members are not comfortable with the gender assigned to them at birth. Sadly, many are turning to suicide because of a lack of acceptance within families and communities. This must stop. I cannot imagine the heartbreak parents are facing as they bury their children.
My dream may seem big to some people, but I do hope for acceptance and love among all people, not only in Alberta, but worldwide.
Linda Tooth is a communications instructor at Medicine Hat College