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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Latin Gender

What, you think we mean Ciceronian nouns?  Sed contra!

The Times has recently run two stories about transgender activities in the (more or less) Latin world, which we spotlight for our readers who are interested in such things:

1.  About the Oaxacan muxe, who from boyhood on feel called to dress and socialize as women.  To our untutored eyes, this seems like a neat parallel to the native American "two-spirits," people whom anthropologists call by the unintentionally pejorative name of berdaches.  (Pejorative, arguably, because it is derived from a Persian word for a gay man, and brings with it some foreign cultural baggage.)  Muxes are pretty well accepted socially, and are credited with "special intellectual and artistic gifts."  (A Spanish-language article online renctly points out that muxes 'really are a third sex in Zapotec culture," and that they continue to use masculine articles grammatically  -- los muxes, not las.

2.  And this is our favorite, about some very professional jewel thieves in Paris, who last week stole $100 million in gems from Harry Winston.  They were men, but some of them dressed as women because  -- according to the gendarmes -- store employees are more likely to open their doors to women.  At least that's what they tell themselves when they're done gussying up.

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