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Mexico candidates accused of faking transgender status

OAXACA: Authorities are investigating 17 men running for mayor in Mexico’s upcoming elections on charges of pretending to be transgender so their parties would meet gender quotas.

The scandal is playing out in the southern state of Oaxaca, where the Zapotec indigenous people have long reserved a special place in society for what they call “muxes” — gay or non-gender-conforming men.

Muxes (pronounced MOO-shays), who often dress in women’s clothing, are considered a “third gender” in Zapotec culture and are accepted as sexual initiators of young men and adolescent boys.

But 17 of the 19 muxes running for mayoral posts in the July 1 elections are frauds, according to activists from the Oaxaca Assembly for Diversity.

The group filed a complaint Monday with state electoral authorities alleging that the 17 candidates’ coalition, Mexico in Front (Por Mexico al Frente), was trying to pass men off as muxes to comply with quotas on gender equality.

Under a 2014 electoral reform, Mexican parties are required to field equal numbers of men and women candidates for federal and local offices.

The Oaxaca electoral authorities have opened an investigation into the case.

If the coalition lied about its candidates’ gender status, it could be fined and barred from standing in the races in question, authorities said.

The heart of muxe culture is Juchitan de Zaragoza, a predominantly indigenous town of 75,000 people.

Indigenous rights group Melendre estimates there are 5,000 muxes there, with more in neighboring villages.

 

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