What Is Latinx?

The Meaning of Latinx and Why the Term Is Used

What Is Latinx?

Growing up, I was always confused by school forms which required me to check off a box for my race and ethnicity. I had purely identified as Cuban since my father was born in Havana, so words «Hispanic» made no sense to me, and with his light skin, my father identified as white due to a history of racism in his home country.

So did I need to check «white» or «Hispanic»? And what was the difference between race and ethnicity anyway? Things became even more confusing as I got older and forms started featuring «Latino.» Now, which one was I? Not to mention that in recent years, confused kids and adults a have yet another term to choose from: «Latinx.


Since 2015, curiosity about the word «Latinx» has steadily increased. In fact, just take a look at the rise in Google searches alone for the term:

Google Trends

While the difference between «Latinx» and «Hispanic» largely comes down to how you self-identify (more on that, below), «Latinx» has typically been adopted among people who are looking for a more inclusive and gender-free alternative to «Latino» or «Latina.

» (Spanish words are automatically gendered to signify a man or a woman, leaving no option for those who choose to identify as non-binary.

) Even though having this alternative is progressive, its usage can still be confusing—which might explain why a 2020 report from the Pew Research Center found that only 23 percent of U.S.

adults who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard of the term «Latinx,» and just 3 percent embrace the term for themselves. Those findings are consistent with the results of a 2021 Gallup poll, which reported that only 4 percent of respondents preferred the term «Latinx,» while 15 percent preferred «Latino» and 23 percent preferred «Hispanic.»

With that in mind—and, not to mention, Hispanic Heritage Month around the corner (mark your calendars for September 15 through October 15)—consider this your go-to guide for the meaning of «Latinx.»

Where did the term «Latinx» come from?

The word «Latinx» originated in the mid-2000s «in activist circles primarily in the U.S. as an expansion of earlier gender-inclusive variations such as Latino/a (with the slash) and Latin@ (with the “at” sign),» says Joseph M.

Pierce, an assistant professor in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature at Stony Brook University.

«The 'x' does not imply a specific gender—as would the 'o' (masculine) or the 'a' (feminine) for nouns in Spanish—and is meant to disrupt the grammatical binary that is inherent in this romance language.»

However, the history of using «x» is lengthier, says David Bowles, a writer, translator, and professor at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley in Edinburg, Texas, who is currently working on a book 0n the word Latinx. «Radical feminists in the '90s—and perhaps as early as the '70s—would literally «x» out the «o» at the end of words that were meant to exclude women and non-binary folk all together.»

The word «Latinx» is ultimately a «non-gendered, non-binary, inclusive way of pushing back against the default masculine in Spanish,» adds Bowles.

How do you pronouce «Latinx?»

Just as there are many different ways to use the term in a sentence (it can function as an adjective or noun, and it can describe individuals and groups), there are also several ways to pronounce «Latinx.

» While it is most commonly pronounced as «LAT-in-EX,» it is also sometimes pronounced using the same pattern as the Spanish-derived Latino, so it sounds «lah-TEE-nex,» and rhymes with Kleenex.

«A few people even say 'lah-TEENKS,'» says Bowles.

However, «Latin-equis» (as you would pronounce the letter «x» in Spanish), is not typically used, adds Pierce.

Is «Latinx» capitalized?

«It's capitalized in English, but not in Spanish,» says Bowles. This is because, as Pierce explains, the word «Latinx» is a proper noun used to refer to a group of people—so you would capitalize it in the same way that you would capitalize Black, Indigenous, etc., when referring to a group. It is also capitalized when used as an adjective, says Pierce.

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The inclusion of the term «Latinx» in the dictionary is a bit polarizing: In 2018, the term was added to Merriam-Webster, as well as the Oxford English Dictionary the following year, but it is not found in The Royal Academy of Spanish (RAE), which is the foremost authority on the language.»The Royal Academy of Spanish (RAE) refuses to include any use of -x or -e,» says Bowles. «They insist there is no connection between grammatical gender and gender oppression.»

While Pierce argues that «inclusion lends legitimacy to the term and marks it as more than just a passing fad,» others believe that whether or not the term is included in the dictionary is irrelevant.

«Being in the dictionary isn't a benchmark we can aspire to when we are defining categories that describe us, identify us,» says Dr. Luisa Ortiz Pérez, Executive Director of Vita-Activa.org.

For her, and many other self-identified Latinx people, the ability to select the terms we want to identify as is more important than a simple dictionary inclusion.

What is the difference between «Latinx» and «Hispanic?»

There is a simple explanation and, as with many things dealing with race, culture, ethnicity, and history, there is also a more complicated version.

The easiest way to understand the difference between «Latinx» and «Hispanic» is, as Ortiz Pérez puts it: «Latinx is an ethnic and cultural category, whereas Hispanic is a linguistic division.

Brazilians are Latinxs, but they are not Hispanic. Spaniards are not Latinxs, but they are Hispanic.»

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Meanwhile, Bowles explains it this way: «Latinx is focused on geography.

» That means to be considered Hispanic, you or your ancestors must have come from a Spanish-speaking country formerly belonging to the Spanish Empire, which includes Argentina, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and, of course, Spain. In that case, to be considered Latina/Latino/Latinx, you or your ancestors must have come from a Latin American country, including Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, French-speaking Caribbean nations, Central or South America (though English-speaking regions). «Your people might speak French, Portuguese, or Spanish,» adds Bowles.

However, it's not as simple as that, because both Hispanic and Latinx/Latino/Latina come with their own histories.

«This is an important distinction because it relates to how people name themselves, on the one hand, and on the other, how particular groups are understood by government institutions such as the U.S.

census, as well as the geographies, histories, and cultural expressions—such as food, music, film, and literature—that are imagined as unique and cohesive,» says Pierce.

Still confused? Here's a longer explanation.

And what about «Latine»? Is that different from «Latinx»?

While the word «Latinx» was created with inclusivity in mind, not everyone supports the term (more on that, below).

One of the chief complaints: By replacing the «o» in «Latino» or the «a» in «Latina» with an «x,» English speakers are imposing a term on the Hispanic and Latino population that doesn't make sense for them and is difficult to pronounce in Spanish—meaning it could alienate non-English speaking people of Latin American descent.

«Perhaps the most ironic failure of the term is that it actually excludes more groups than it includes,» students Gilbert Guerra and Gilbert Orbea argued in an op-ed for Swarthmore College's campus newspaper.

Enter the term «Latine» (pronounced «la-tee-neh»), which some have offered as an alternative in response to the «Latinx» criticism. Not only does it sound less awkward in Spanish, but it can also be used in a gender neutral fashion.

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Whomever feels that the term accurately defines their background—though the 2020 Pew Report, which surveyed 3,030 adults suggests, indicated that only a small portion of the U.S. population does.

According to the research, just 3 percent of surveyed adults who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino said they consider themselves Latinx.

What's more, almost three four of those same adults had never even heard of the term.

The survey found it was more commonly known among those born in the U.S. than in other countries (32 percent versus 16 percent), as well as Hispanics who were predominately English-speaking or bilingual (29 percent of respondents in both groups) than those who were mainly Spanish speaking (7 percent).

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According to Pew, those mostly ly to identify as «Latinx» are between the ages of 18-29, a college graduate, and Democrat-leaning.

Additionally, women were more ly than men to use «Latinx» to describe themselves (5 percent versus 1 percent), though it is worth noting that the Pew survey did not include any self-identified non-binary respondents, which is important given that gender neutrality and inclusivity is one of the intentions of using «Latinx.»

Why do some people not the term «Latinx?»

There is no denying that the Spanish language is gendered (for example: a group of 20 people with 19 women and 1 man is considered «Latino»), which is precisely why some have begun to embrace the term «Latinx» for its inclusive nature. However, with change can come backlash. «Hatred generally comes from conservative members of the community that still believe everything cultural needs to be sanctioned by the RAE, which is outdated,» explains Ortiz Pérez.

Spanish-language purists argue that the word «Latinx» is simply about political correctness and that the word (and similar constructions) will «destroy Spanish,» as Bowles puts it. «I promise you, Spanish language has already evolved tremendously over the past 500 years and can withstand more.»

A common misconception is that it is about sexual orientation, since its usage initially sprung up amongst LGBTQIA+ circles. But Pierce emphasizes that it is about gender identity and expression. «It does not imply any particular sexuality,» he says.

«Nor does 'Latinx' apply to everyone as an identity category. Instead, it expands the possibilities for expression that people have at their disposal.

People who have been marginalized because of the gendered dynamics of Spanish view this shift toward the 'x' as one of inclusivity and openness.»

At the end of the day, using the term «Latinx» is a personal choice. «My feeling is that we should allow one another to use the labels each of us selects,» says Bowles. «I'm comfortable with Mexican-American, Chicano, and Latino. Others might have different preferences. It's a personal choice. No one can tell you to use Latinx…but no one can tell you not to, either.»

Personally, I have embraced the term—but not everyone in the Latino/Latinx community has. And, as Bowles says, that personal choice should be respected and accepted.

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Источник: https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/a28056593/latinx-meaning/

Latinx Meaning: The Origin and Importance of the Inclusive Term

What Is Latinx?

Latinx, a gender neutral alternative to Latina and Latino, is a term that has recently gained a presence in popular culture. The term is used to describe the diverse group of people who have roots in Latin America.

Because the Spanish language classifies most words as masculine or feminine, the term Latinx emerged an act of solidarity to include LGBTQIA+ folks who may not want to be classified as male or female.

Latinx is an intersectional term that aims to include all people of Latin American descent.

“Latinx is an inclusive term that can collectively refer to people who identify within and outside the gender binary,” say Alan Aja, a professor in the Puerto Rican and Latin Studies department at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Maria Scharrón-del Río, a professor in the School Counseling Program at the same institution.

What is the origin of the word Latinx?

The term Latinx emerged from the Spanish-speaking queer community to challenge the gender binary, explain Aja and Scharrón-del Río. While the exact origin of the term is unclear, its use can be traced back to online queer community forums.

Some researchers have found early uses of the “x” in place of the gendered “o” and “a” dating back to the late '90s.

The term became recently popularized, however, after the devastating Pulse Massacre in 2016, the mass shooting that occurred at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“We found that after the Pulse Massacre, Latinx was thrust into larger use,” say Aja and Scharrón-del Río. “Perhaps as an act of resistance, solidarity and visibility of non-binary gender identities as the LGBTQ+ [community] was being attacked.”

What are the differences between the terms Latino, Latina and Hispanic?

Because Spanish is a language with grammatical gender, certain words are used to describe men and others are used to describe women. “Latino and Latina are gendered variants of Latinx,” explains Eve Rosenfeld, a Ph.D.

candidate in Psychology at the University at Buffalo who researches identity invalidation in Black and white Latinxs.“Latino encompasses male-only groups of Latinx individuals, as well as mixed-gender groups of Latinx individuals.

Latina encompasses female-only groups of Latinx individuals.”

Some say the use of Latina and Latino, however, can be exclusionary and inequitable. “Using these gendered terms ignores those with genders that fall outside of the male-female binary. Additionally, the gendered terms center men over women,” says Rosenfeld.

Yael Rosenstock Gonzalez, an author and identity coach, breaks it down for non-Spanish speakers. “An English equivalent of Latino is the use of ‘mankind’ to refer to all humans,” she says. “While ‘mankind’ is understood to include women and potentially other genders, the name is inherently masculine.”

The term Hispanic, on the other hand, refers to an ethnic group in the United States that has its cultural origins in Spanish-speaking countries. You’ll find the term on any federal or state form, college application, or employment paperwork.

The label, however, has been flagged as problematic by members of the Latinx community. Using Hispanic assumes that every Latinx individual speaks Spanish, when they may only speak their indigenous languages; it also excludes Brazilians because they speak Portuguese.

In addition, Hispanic was first used on U.S. census forms in 1980 and has been tied to a whitening ideology.

According to writer Araceli Cruz in her article “The Problematic History of the Word ‘Hispanic,’” it is a term that has racist undertones and has been described as whitewashing the unique heritage of Latinx people.

How do you pronounce Latinx? How do you use it in a sentence?

Latinx is most commonly pronounced “Latin-EX.” It is also sometimes pronounced “la-TEE-nex” or “La-TEENKS.”

Here are the different ways you can use the term in a sentence, explains Rosenfeld:

  • It can be used as an adjective: Latinx Americans, Latinx members of the LGBT+ community
  • It can also be used as a noun: Latinxs in academia often deal with microaggressions and discrimination.
  • It can be used singularly (I am a Latinx woman) or plurally (Latinxs are the fastest growing population in higher education).
  • It can describe individuals (I identify as Latinx) and groups (Latinxs living in Southern California).

Why do some people have an issue with the term Latinx?

While Latinx is a word created with inclusivity in mind, not everyone supports its use. Some people think that Latinx is an elitist term that is mostly used in academic settings.

It has also been called out as a form of “linguistic imperialism,” meaning some think the term Latinx represents English policing the Spanish language in a way that doesn’t correspond with its grammar or conventional way of speaking.

Because Latinx doesn’t sound other words in Spanish, it could also potentially alienate non-English speaking people of Latin American descent.

Rosenstock Gonzalez offers an alternative: the term “Latine” (pronounced La-TEEN or Latin-EH). She says, “The use of ‘e’ does not have gendered associations. For example Latine, elles, todes, amigues — all of which would be easier to incorporate into the Spanish sounds that already exist and is therefore an easier sell to Spanish speakers.”

While a single word may never perfectly describe such a diverse and rich culture, using intentional language counts. “The use of Latinx and Latine is an act of solidarity and resistance against the violence that racist, sexist, heterosexist, classist, xenophobic, ableist and other oppressive structures inflict in our communities,” say Aja and Scharrón-del Río.

Natalia Sylvester, author of the YA novel Running about a Latinx teen whose father is running for president, says, “The term Latinx may not be a perfect one, but the willingness to change (and more importantly, to listen to the LGBTQ community on this) is vital.”

How can I be an ally to Latinx people?

Given the escalating violence enacted against Latinx people, allies must step up to the plate. To start, employ the language they ask you to use. Then, listen, align and act.

“To be an ally to Latinx people is to first and foremost acknowledge the term’s legitimacy and respect someone’s choice to use it, even if you choose not to,” says Nicholas Patino, a photographer and community leader based in Miami.

Rosenfeld offers an imperative: “The most important thing to do as an ally is to listen, non-defensively,” she says. “Support our causes. Fight against ICE. Dismantle your own racism.

Don't invalidate our identities, even if our appearance diverges from your expectations. Don't assume things about us our identity. Not all of us are immigrants. Not all of us speak Spanish. We are extremely diverse.

Recognize that diversity. Center your allyship around our voices.”


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Источник: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a33806428/what-latinx-means/

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