The Problem With The Term Latinx

By Jen Mejia

Since the United States government emphasized the word Hispanic during the Nixon administration to name persons from Latin America and Spain, there has been considerable disagreement about how to label Latin American populations. In recent years, the word Latinx has grown prominently in everyday vocabulary. For Latino individuals, it can be perplexing to choose one term to define them as a particular ethnicity. These people who are Latin American or Latin America descent struggle with what word they should identify themselves with due to new progressive terms every so often. These labels range from Hispanic, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Latine, and maybe more to come. 

Initially, the word Latinx was intended to promote diversity, particularly in gender inclusivity. Several people argue that Latinx would be a more appropriate word because Latino is not gender-neutral to them. To describe a Latin American group in Spanish, regardless of gender,  the correct term used is Latinos. The term Latinos can also mean just a group of males; therefore, individuals who favor the term Latinx usually question having males as normative. Others dispute back and claim that because Spanish is a gendered language,  Latino is a gender-neutral term. This debate demonstrates that the problem is not about having a word be gender-neutral but instead the lack of inclusivity–a lack of including individuals from Latin America using a gender-neutral term

The biggest issue with this word being characterized as more inclusive is that it is more problematic than simply having a gender-neutral word. The phrase Latinx ignores the Spanish language and only thinks about a label for Latin American individuals in the English language. While Spanish is a gendered language, Latin Americans do not have a satisfactory manner of pronouncing the word Latinx, even if they say the X in Spanish. If people from Latin America are categorized into a group they should be able to pronounce the term that categorizes them. 

For instance, many activists in Latin America who are Spanish speakers have come to realize that a gender-neutral term should be used. Instead of using silly words, they can not pronounce they use the term ‘Latin.’ Not only is this word quite simple for a Spanish speaker to pronounce but also for English speakers to use. It also sounds way better and participates in the trend of inclusivity.