“Lady Tacos de Canasta” – a Netflix star identifying as a Muxe, Mexico’s third gender, is running for the congress of Mexico City

“Lady Tacos de Canasta,” a mexican muxe, became popular after being featured in a Netflix production “Taco Chronicles.” Now she wants to enter the world of politics. She plans to fight for the rights of the LGBT+ people and start the conversation about the grey market economy. This year’s election for the Mexico City congress will be held on the 6th of June

Muxe, the third gender

First, let us explain who a muxe is, and why the feminine form should be used when speaking about this group of people. The local language of the Zapotec people (the Oaxaca state) has no grammatical gender distinction. So people there do not have an issue with the correct pronouns.

The problem appears when the concept of another gender needs to be explained to the Europeans. Muxes are born as men but they identify as women, so the feminine form should be used. But in this case, we need to reject the binary way of perceiving gender. Muxes are neither men or women. They are a third gender [1]. 

Mexicans adore the queen of tacos

The streets are buzzing, the aromatic smell of mexican delicacies fills the air. Between the stalls, you can see a person dressed in a colourful dress, her head adorned with long, dark braids. She is on a bike. From the background, somebody is yelling: “tacos de canasta, tacos!” – although her name is Marven, everyone calls her “Lady Tacos.”

She joined the family business when she was just a kid by watching her father at work. She knows everything about tacos – she has been studying the secrets of Mexican flavours for years. Her confidence came with experience.

When she first started the business, it did not always go well. But now she attracts the passers-by with her colourful outfits, bold make-up and loud voice. She became one of the main attractions of the Mexican streets during the 2016 Pride parade. Her clients took pictures, recorded videos and then published them on social media. And that is the best marketing campaign “Lady Tacos” could ever have. And so, the street seller of tacos became a well-known persona of Mexico City. 

Unfortunately, once the success was achieved, the COVID-19 pandemic started. Now, street vendors need to deal with a crisis that could not have been foreseen. They struggle with adapting to the new, mostly virtual reality. But “Lady Tacos” is constantly on the move – on her bike!

“Don’t call me sir, because I’m not a man”

In August 2020, Marven was making her usual circles around the Zócalo Square, her basket filled with homemade tacos. But that time she was unlucky. The police accused her of breaching the security measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus. Marven explained that she only wanted to earn a living but the officials were not convinced with her arguments. One witness of the situation recorded a video showing how the police officers were trying to confiscate the vendor’s bicycle and basket [1]. 

That was not the first time Marven confronted the local police. Such encounters had been happening for a few years and apart from being accused of working on the grey market, she needs to endure remarks about her gender. Once, she told a policewoman: “Don’t call me sir, because I’m not a man” [2].

Media channel the voice of the discriminated

Some videos featuring Marven went viral. The increasing interest in the business of the colourful, smiling vendor, led to an unexpected offer from the biggest worldwide streaming service. One of the episodes of the Netflix show “Taco Chronicles” tells the story of Marven’s business.

After she was featured in the documentary, her popularity grew significantly. So she decided to use her status to fight for the rights of people from socially excluded groups. She is very popular on social media – her Instagram has an audience of over 80 thousand followers [3] and her Facebook posts regularly reach over 700 thousand of people [4]. What really attracts the audience are not the unique Mexican flavours but Marven’s engagement in social issues. She uses social media as a communication channel that supports her initiatives and political campaign.

“All my life I’ve been singled out for my sexual orientation and I’ve been persecuted for selling on public streets. Why not fight, why not raise your voice?” says Marven [5]. 

Mexican muxe on candidate list

Her experiences inspired “Lady Tacos” to officially stand for the social groups which often face discrimination or whose situation is not regulated by the Mexican law. Part of her political agenda focuses on improving the grey market laws. As a transgender person with experience of prejudice, she also wants to fight for the rights of the LGBTQIA community.  Marven believes that the issues of the members of the community have not been treated seriously. They frequently fall victim to violence and disrespect from government and administrative organs. 

“We have had enough. We need a real change and we need the people who know the true needs of Mexicans to finally be the people in power,” declares Marven [6].

“Lady Tacos de Canasta” will appear on the ballot paper under her official name, Juan Francisco Martínez Ventura. On her special request, the widely-known pseudonym, “Lady Tacos” will also be featured. She will fight for a three-year term. 

Cover picture: Lady Tacos de canasta / facebook.com/ladytacosdecanasta/.

Nicole Czaplińska – Romance philology student, interested in the art and culture of France and arabic countries. Salam Lab collaborator.


[1] The term “third gender” is widely used by specialists in this field, both from Poland and abroad to describe Mexican Muxes.

[2] The event was film and uploaded on Twitter. See it here >>.

[2] https://www.vallartadaily.com/lady-tacos-de-canasta-is-seeking-election-to-mexicos-congress/

[3] Instagram account of Lady Tacos >> .

[4] Facebook account of Lady Tacos >> .

[5] https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexican-netflix-street-vendor-star-lady-tacos-eyes-jump-political-stage-2021-04-13/

[6] https://www.forbes.com.mx/lady-tacos-de-canasta-busca-ser-diputada-para-reivindicar-los-derechos-lgbt-y-la-economia-informal/


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