Who is Latinx?
Perhaps you’ve heard it on the news, in entertainment outlets, in universities, or on social media. Latinx is used as a gender-neutral term to describe a non-binary person of Spanish-speaking descent. The term has been used as an alternative to identify Hispanics and Latinos. It’s possible that you may have not heard it all. It’s not common to identify a group of people as Latinx, nor has it gained the full acceptance of everyone.
Earlier this year, a post from NowThisPolitics shared a photo recognizing that “for the first time in 232 years, SCOTUS will not have a white male majority.” But was it appropriate to refer to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as Latinx? Shouldn’t they have referred to her as a Latina? It’s critical to be intentional when referring to someone by a specific identity, like Latinx. Nonetheless, this raises another question: Who uses the word Latinx?
Who uses Latinx?
Latinx has opened a door to a more gender-neutral language. It has even challenged the Spanish language's traditional grammar and construction of gendered wording. According to Pew Research, “Only 23% of U.S. adults who identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard of the term Latinx, and just 3% say they use it to describe themselves.” (2019)
Colleges and universities have been known to use Latinx more frequently. The University of California, Davis uses the “x” to allow the Latino community to include all genders within the spectrum. The highest demographic group is Hispanic women ages 18 to 29.
It’s important to note that although people may know of “Latinx,” that does not mean they necessarily use it. In fact, this upcoming election year, many candidates are choosing not to use it while they are campaigning. From their perspective, it is not an acceptable term to refer to a whole group. The use of Latinx has brought attention to the importance of diversity and inclusivity of gender. It is important when using Latinx to be intentional and mindful of when or how we use it to refer to a person or group.
When should I use Latinx?
Here at The Colibri Collective, we mostly use Latino as a gender-neutral description of a Spanish-speaking group, especially when we are referring to voters. If we are ever referring to a group of women, we will use Latina. We use Latinx in the context of younger people or social justice groups. When it comes to Hispanics we use it less frequently but we will use it in work that involves polling or media markets because it’s the option given to poll respondents.
When it comes to referring to a specific person, it’s critical to think about how they identify themselves. Even if you’re uncomfortable with the “x”, it is liberating to those who identify with it. It’s a movement that allows us to think about those in our Latino community who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.