The History of the Word Latinx

The word Latinx gained momentum in the mid-2000s, primarily among younger community advocates in the U.S.  Most articles trace the rise of the term based on internet usage starting roughly in 2004 and steadily gaining in popularity and usage each year. As explained by Raquel Reichard in their article Latino/a vs. Latinx vs. Latine: Which Words Best Solves Spanish’s Gender Problem:

Spanish is a gendered language, with nouns ending in an “a” generally regarded as feminine and those ending in an “o” considered masculine. The tongue, it has been argued, is also a sexist one, giving superiority to male plurals. For instance, a crowd of nine women is referred to as Latinas. However, the moment one man joins the flock, they now become a group of Latinos.

For decades, people have resisted this linguistic male dominance by replacing the final “o” in the word with “o/a” or “@.” But even these variations fall short, as they exclude the countless people of Latin American descent whose genders fall outside the woman-man binary—those identifying as agender (without a gender), nonbinary (beyond the traditional binary), or gender-fluid (fluctuating genders), among a spectrum of other identities.

This one-minute video created by the El Paso Times explains the word:

However, not everyone likes the word Latinx. Some critics consider the word to be an elitist term used more often by scholars, writers and civil rights advocates than by the average person. The term has also been criticized as an elitist attempt to re-write a history of more traditional gender roles. Others see the discussion as a distraction from more pressing issues.

Embracing community and the many identities that exist across race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation are fundamental to the work of ending HIV in Texas.  The Achieving Together plan has a focus on cultivating a stigma-free climate of appreciation and inclusion and calls on us to use language that reflects the identities of the communities we serve. 

The short film Elles: Being Non Binary and Latinx shares the experiences of non-binary Latinx people and why language is important to personal and public identity.

To learn more about why language is important and why Latinx transgender and non-binary people embrace the term check out Why We Say Latinx: Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People Explain.

What are your thoughts on the term Latinx?

How could the term Latinx help foster a sense of inclusion?

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