What is LatinX... and should you use it?
When I arrived on campus for my freshman year as an international student from Peru, I first heard the unfamiliar term “LatinX.” Although I did not know the meaning of this word, I quickly learned the ironic reality that it refers to me.
LatinX is a fabricated, gender-neutral word devised to replace the terms “Latino” and “Latina” as a description of people from Latin America. However, the term LatinX is not used in any Latin American country.
Of Puerto Rican origin, the term LatinX goes against the established rules of the Spanish language, which categorizes most words as either feminine or masculine. In the early 2000s, the term LatinX began to trend as a word used to describe those who identify as non-binary. It was called a solution for the so-called “un-inclusive” Spanish language.
However, Latino and Latina are obviously not the only Spanish words that end in the feminine “a” or masculine “o.” In fact, most words fall into one of these categories. For example, “mesa,” or table, is feminine, and “zapato,” or shoe, is masculine. This rule is an intrinsic part of not only the Spanish language but all other Romance languages, such as Portuguese, Italian, and French.
Additionally, the term LatinX neglects the fact that the plural word “Latinos” is already gender-neutral and inclusive of everyone. The phrase “Latinas” refers only to women, which can still be used in the appropriate context. The word Hispanic is also gender neutral. So why create a novel term or alter an existing word to solve a problem that does not exist?
According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2020, only a fourth of Latinos living in America were aware of the term LatinX, and only 3% ever use it. These meager numbers indicate that Latinos in America do not identify as “LatinX.” The Hispanic community has outright rejected this expression.
Opposing the native tongue spoken by millions of people throughout centuries is not only ridiculous but also insulting.
Why, then, is the term being used in every major company, corporation, and organization when referring to Latinos? Even LSU's Latin American Student Organization (LASO) refers to Latinos as “LatinX.”
How has this linguistically obsolete term survived two decades of rejection from the very people it was meant to describe? The answer is simple: the continual push of the term in America by “woke” companies, organizations, and individuals. People at the grassroots level often feel obligated to use it because it is “politically correct.” This is the result of something I like to call “Woke Imperialism,” which stems exclusively from Western countries. But that is a topic for another day.
After all this, you might wonder, “Should I use the term Latinx? Will I offend some people if I do not?” The answer is a loud and clear NO. In fact, by using this term, you are more likely to have the opposite effect, confusing or offending the very people you intend to please.
Unfortunately, even if everyone stopped using LatinX today (not that actual Latinos ever did), it is still plastered everywhere Latinos are mentioned. Social media, mainstream news, checkboxes in application forms, and even student organizations use this term. Who gets to decide whether the word is used or not?
This situation is remarkably similar to what happened with the term “African-American,” which was used to describe some people who had no African heritage. Although the term often wasn’t factually correct, everyone used it because it was “politically correct.”
Maybe if we call people what they really are instead of trying to use “politically correct” terms and phrases, no more incorrect terms would be invented. You'd realize that your Mexican, Peruvian, and Cuban friends all feel included in the word “Latinos.”
LatinX should be thrown into the trashcan where it belongs, along with all other “politically correct,” “inclusive,” fabricated words.
The Wikipedia page for "LatinX" was also used for research purposes.