Muxes (third gender) Mexicans are playing a lead role in the aftermath of the recent devastating 8.1 magnitude earthquake.

In the state of Oaxaca, in the matriarchal town of Juchitán, one of the hardest hit by the earthquake, roughly eight in ten residents are indigenous.

The indigenous population of the area, the Zapotec, encompasses male, female and a third gender, muxes. Muxes are born biologically male and identify as female or no fixed gender. It is said that the muxes can be traced back thousands of years.

According to Reuters, many muxes are taking a lead role in the cleanup following the earthquake that killed 96 people.


“I carried my mother out as I left the house, and then my brother and I went to rescue my aunt who was trapped,” Peregrina Vera, 26, told Reuters.

She then freed her grandmother, who she heard shouting for help, by helping to clear the rubble that covered her.

Felina Santiago Valdivieso, who is active in the muxe community, told ABC News that most people have lost their source of income, their property and their home. Those that haven’t, are no longer able to live within them.

“It is going to be a long time for us to recover and to see how we can help ourselves and lift ourselves back up.”

ABC reports that two local men had collected donations for sexuality and gender minorities that included beans, pasta and tortillas. The government has provided provisions for the people of Juchitán, limited to one per household, Vera says that many people, however, are cheating the system.

Muxes in Mexico City and in neighbouring state, Veracruz, were traveling to Juchitán to bring aid.