|Look up Latinx in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Similar words used for this purpose include: Latin@ , which combines the -o and -a endings; Latine (the French feminine gender noun for the French masculine gender noun, Latin); or simply the English word "Latin" which is also gender neutral.
The term Latinx emerged from American Spanish in the early 21st century, and was reportedly first used online in 2004. The term has gained popularity in social media, and is mostly used by community activists and in higher education settings by students, faculty, staff, and some administrators who seek to advocate for individuals living on the borderlines of gender identity. In 2016, the term appeared in the titles of academic books in the context of LGBT studies, rhetoric and composition studies, and comics studies. According to Google Trends, interest in the term spiked in 2018 and again in 2019.
A 2016 NBC News report noted that it was "difficult to pinpoint" the origins of the term, but found "anecdotal evidence" that the term was in use in Latin America. The same report stated that usage of the term was "without question on the rise at U.S. colleges".
At Princeton University, a student group called the Princeton University Latinx Perspective Organization was founded in 2016 to "unify Princeton's diverse Latinx community". As of 2017, several student-run organizations at other institutions have utilized the word in their title.
Salinas and Lozano (2017) stated that the term is influenced by Mexican indigenous communities that have a third gender role, such as Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca (see also: Gender system § Juchitán, Oaxaca, Mexico). Scharrón-del Río and Aja (2015) have traced the use of Latinx in authors Beatriz Llenín Figueroa, Jaime Géliga Quiñones, Yuderkys Espinosa Miñoso and Adriana Gallegos Dextre. The term has also been discussed in publications by Pastrana, Battle & Harris (2016), Valdes (2017), and many others.
The term often refers specifically to LGBT people or to young people. Brian Latimer, a producer at MSNBC who identifies as nonbinary, says that the application of the term "shows a generational divide in the Hispanic community".:60
On June 26, 2019, during the first 2020 Democratic Party presidential debate, the word was used by the presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, which USA Today called "one of the highest profile uses of the term since its conception".
The term Latinx has been the subject of controversy. In a 2017 article for the Los Angeles Times, Daniel Hernandez wrote "Like many of its awkward predecessors, 'Latinx' does not work. Its experimental 'x' opens too many linguistic floodgates. And why is this kind of label necessary at all?"
A 2016 HuffPost article stated, "Despite the growing popularity of the term, Latinx has been faced with criticism. Many opponents of the term have suggested that using an un-gendered noun like Latinx is disrespectful to the Spanish language and some have even called the term 'a blatant form of linguistic imperialism.'" Some refuse to use the term, as Latinx "doesn't roll off the tongue" in the Spanish language. Another argument against Latinx is that "it erases feminist movements in the 1970s" that fought for use of the word Latina.
However, in defense of the term, Brooklyn College professors María R. Scharrón-del Río and Alan A. Aja argued that the Spanish language itself is a form of linguistic imperialism for Latin Americans.
Hector Luis Alamo wrote in a 2015 article for Latino Rebels, "If we dump Latino for Latinx because it offends some people, then we should go on dumping words forever since there will always be some people who find some words offensive. No word ever oppressed anybody (except maybe the word God)."
Nicole Trujillo-Pagán has argued that patriarchal bias is reproduced in ostensibly "gender neutral" language and asserted, "Less clear in the debate (as it has developed since then) is how the replacement silences and erases long-standing struggles to recognize the significance of gender difference and sexual violence."
Although the term Latinx was rejected in 2018 by the Royal Spanish Academy, an authority on the Spanish language, it was added to the Merriam-Webster English dictionary in the same year and continued to grow in popularity.
The term Latinx allows those who don't identify within the gender binary to be seen and accepted by getting rid of the gendered ending of Latina/o, said Yara Simón in Remezcla. Some commentators, such as Ed Morales, a lecturer at Columbia University and author of the 2018 book Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture, associate the term with the ideas of Gloria Anzaldúa, a Chicana feminist. Morales writes that "refusal to conform to male/female gender binaries" parallels "the refusal to conform to a racial binary".:61
Some disability rights activists have raised accessibility concerns with Latinx and its alternative Latin@ because they cannot be pronounced by screen readers used by the blind and visually impaired.
An alternative term is Latin@ (pronounced Latínao) where the postfixed -@ is taken to represent a combination of -a and -o in a single character. This variant is somewhat older, in use since the 1990s. It has received criticism for adhering to a binary view of gender.
Another variant is Latine (the feminine gender French noun for the masculine gender French noun, Latin) or Latinu, where the vowel -e or -u is taken as a "neutral" alternative to either -a or -o. Proponents of Latine say it sounds more natural and grammatical to native Spanish speakers.
The English word "Latin" itself is also gender neutral and can be used to describe someone from Latin Europe or a Latin-American country. In his LA Times piece, Hernandez opined: "I've been calling myself 'Latin'. And it feels great."
- Folx (term)
- Mx (title)
- Feminist language reform
- Gender-neutral language
- Gender neutrality in languages with grammatical gender
- Gender neutrality in English
- Gender neutrality in Spanish
- Grammatical gender in Spanish
- Spanish orthography
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This is a blatant form of linguistic imperialism – the forcing of U.S. ideals upon a language in a way that does not grammatically or orally correspond with it.
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