As Mexico votes, transgender self-ID makes a joke of gender parity in politics

 Mexico goes to the polls on Sunday, June 6. It’s a massive exercise in democracy, the biggest election in the nation's history. Ninety-three million voters will be choosing 500 federal deputies, 15 state governors, and representatives in 30 local congresses and 1,900 municipal councils.

One newcomer on the ballots is Fuerza por Mexico (Power to Mexico, FxM). Like all start-up parties, it promises a new deal for Mexicans (which is compellingly argued in its catchy campaign song ). It is fiercely in favour of women’s rights, for instance. In the election video below, four women angrily denounce sexual violence. The last lady tells viewers “al feminicida córtale los huevos!” --  that men who kill women should be jailed for life and have their balls cut off.

So there can be absolutely no doubt whatsoever about the complete sincerity of FxM’s outstandingly pink-themed feminist credentials. But in the state of Tlaxcala, to the west of Mexico City, for some reason, it had trouble meeting the national gender parity requirements for electoral lists. Eighteen of their candidates were in danger of being disqualified.

Fortunately, the 18 FxM candidates suddenly discovered their true gender identity. Appearances notwithstanding, they are and always have been women. Until a few days ago, there was only one transgender candidate, Valeria Lorety Díaz, running for office in the Tlaxcala’s municipal councils. Now there are 19. The national electoral office promised that the June 6 election will be the “most inclusive” in the history of Mexico. In Tlaxcala, that is certainly true.

Unsurprisingly, transphobic voices were raised objecting to the FxM gender epiphany. Valeria Lorety Díaz told Televisa, a national TV network. “They are playing games with a fake identity. They are registered as transwomen, but how are they campaigning? They ought to behave like transwomen, like me.”

However, she is clearly wrong about that. The Tlaxcala electoral commission carried on a spirited debate earlier this month on Zoom. Its members concluded that it was wrong to doubt the reality of the candidates’ gender self-identification and that there was no evidence to support allegations of a bogus transition.

How could there be? Only the candidates know whether they are male or female or whatever. Biology has nothing to do with it.

The president of FxM, Luis Vargas, brushed off criticism. “The trans issue is three-pronged: transgender, transsexual, and transvestite. And the issue for the (trans) community is very broad. I can’t get into people’s privacy and tell them ‘you yes and you no’,” he told a TV interviewer.

Gender self-identification is well established in Mexico. In 2018 Human Rights Watch hailed a court’s affirmation of a person’s right to change gender with a bit of paper-shuffling as “a Beacon for Change”. The Tlaxcala legislature approved gender self-identification in 2019 as a basic human right. There is no need for medical intervention. It’s certainly a far more convenient way of going trans than the procedure suggested by the scissors-wielding lady in the FxM video above.


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