The first time I read the word “Latinx” was about three years ago in a Vice news article. At first I thought it was a spelling mistake until I noticed the number of news headlines that included the term beyond the Vice news website. It was a confusing experience for me because I didn’t know a different spelling of my culture existed. Digging deeper, I learned that the Latinx movement was created to promote gender-inclusivity. Despite its great contributions to the LGBTQIA+ community, I still reject the term.
The trouble with the word lies in what it adds and takes away from the Spanish language. Now, let’s get one thing clear first: Hispanic and Latino are not the same. Hispanic refers to people with a Spanish-language background whereas Latino refers to people from Latin America. Here, in the United States, we seem to use those terms interchangeably. Over the recent years, changing a word that comes from a masculine-dominated language has become controversial. English, in particular, has no grammatical gender. In contrast, Spanish is filled with it. That’s why “Hispanic” is not considered female or male, but “Latino” is. “Latin” would be the correct English translation of the word, but we Latin Americans don’t use it as often as Latino.
For these people who fall outside of the gender binary, “Latino” just doesn’t fit them, and that’s understandable. Spanish is a gendered language. It puts you in a box where you only have two choices — that’s it. Latinx helps people feel like they belong, especially within a culture that’s still dominated by homophobia. This attitude has contributed to violence against people who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community throughout Latin America, including crimes in which people are killed for not living up to society’s expectations. Even in my own household, I have heard homophobic slurs being thrown around like they didn’t mean anything to people who have experienced that pain.
But I love my language and I strongly believe that we should ask Latin Americans what they want to be called and not assume their preferences based on our beliefs. Isn’t that what we do with pronouns? I don’t want to be called Latinx because I feel like that term doesn’t fit me. I’m Hispanic, Latin, Latino and Latina. Not Latinx. According to Spanish’s grammatical rules, Latino is already gender-inclusive. Student authors Gilbert Guerra and Gilbert Orbea from the Phoenix, Swarthmore College’s student newspaper, also claimed that changing a word that’s almost non-existent in Latin America is a form of imperialism. It is also unpronounceable in Spanish and would mean that every Spanish gendered term has to be changed.
There are people who disagree with this stance. Latinx has helped them understand their identity. But, for me, it has taken mine. I’m not a member of the LGBTQIA+ where the word has gained its popularity. I don’t know what it feels like to be a part of that community, but not all of us Latinos want to be called Latinx. Some of us just want to be asked how we identify ourselves.