By Daniel Duque, March 14, 2023
“Latinx” is a gender-inclusive term when referring to the Latino community, however, this term has caused a lot of controversy, and it is disliked by a large number of Latinos.
I was born and raised in Colombia. I lived there for 14 years, and never in my life did I hear something like “Latinx” being used at all. In fact, I was taught that the appropriate inclusive term is “Latinos” to refer to us as a whole. A word like “Latinx” does not represent our culture.
When I moved to the United States in February 2016, I was introduced to the American culture, new social rules, American traditions and a new language.
Since I came to this country being fluent in Spanish, I began my high school education enrolled in the AP Spanish course which focused on teaching about the diversity in Latino communities and its different cultures. This course was taught by a Hispanic teacher who never used a word like “Latinx.”
During my four years of high school between 2016 and 2020, I never heard of that term or people who used it. I was introduced to “Latinx” through a Twitter post that talked about gender-inclusive language; many Latino users commented their disapproval of it.
After seeing that Twitter post, I found out that this term was being widely used in other social media platforms and some news outlets when discussing the Latino community. The use of “Latinx” has caused a division among Hispanics who are either in favor or against the use of this term.
Those in favor of using “Latinx” suggest that the use of this word is gender inclusive and prevents genderism because in the Spanish language, we use gendered language, and we refer to our community as “Latinos” or “Latinas.” But when we refer to both genders according to the language’s rules, the appropriate inclusive term is still “Latinos.”
In the Spanish language, some collective words like “niños,” which means “children” may sound like there are only boys present in a room, but the language’s rules indicate that it is appropriate to use with both genders present, even if the female gender is predominant. In English it is the equivalent of saying “actors” when referring to a group of actors and actresses.
There are other collective words that do not sound gendered, which is the case of the word “estudiantes,” which means students. In Spanish, the letter “e” represents gender-inclusive language.
Many Latinos are uncomfortable with the term “Latinx” because its pronunciation in Spanish would be “Latin-equis,” which does not make sense and is complicated. At the same time, different Hispanic civil rights groups have already introduced their gender-inclusive alternative to “Latino,” being this one “Latine.” This word is not accepted by many Latinos either, but some consider it is a better alternative than “Latinx.”
“Latinx” is an English term which different communities have tried to impose into the Spanish language. This is an example of language imperialism, trying to change our language will not make us feel included.
During my time in community college, most of my professors and some classmates used “Latinx” when referring to our community. I felt that this term was being enforced to create a more inclusive environment, but at the same time, it made Latino students uncomfortable.
“Latinx” is still being widely used on social media, news outlets and also on campus. It is understandable that times have changed and communities want to promote a more inclusive society. I do agree with inclusion, because we are all human beings and we have the right to belong and be accepted. However, modifying our language is not the best way to do this.
According to the Real Academia Española, the gender-inclusive terms “Latinx” and “Latine” are not appropriate in the Spanish language.
The intention behind the use of “Latinx” is good, however people who use this term should understand that a big part of the Latino community is against this term and do not acknowledge the use of it. Inclusion is important, but changing our language and making up words that are not part of what represents us will not make us feel included but instead bothered.
“Latinx” is a form of avoiding genderism when referring to the Latino community as a whole. However, there is a term that we as Latinos accept and is also approved by the Spanish language: Latin Americans. Not only does this term follow our language’s structure and rules, but it is also gender-inclusive and represents us as a community.
Feature image by Lauren Wong
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