Culture

What Shall We Call Us? The Debate Around “Latinx” Continues

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, 1) yikes and 2) you’re probably familiar with seeing “Latino/a,” which is clunkily condensed as “Latin@.” It’s been around for a while and is, ostensibly, a way to streamline the label, while applying to both men and women.

More and more, you might have noticed a new option popping up online: Latinx.

So, how is Latinx different from Latin@, exactly?

For one, it’s easier and faster to type out, which is kind of nice for the lazily-inclined among us. It’s also a term that allows for intersectionality and includes identities beyond a gender binary. It is, in a word, inclusive.

The term, though relatively new, has already inspired its share of controversy and debate. The site Latino Rebels, for instance, featured arguments both in favor of and against the term, taking into account factors like the history and implications of the term “Latino,” the term’s ties (or lack thereof) to the Spanish language, and the idea of subverting or reclaiming existing terms rather than creating new news.

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Credit: Alex Alvarez / mitú

For example, in their argument for the use of Latinx, professors María R. Scharréon-Del Río and Alan A. Aja write that opposing “Latinx” on the grounds that it isn’t in Spanish shows a narrow view of what it really means, historically and right now, to belong to this particular group:

Are we not aware that upon the arrival of the conquistadores and subsequent acts of genocide, a few thousand indigenous languages existed in the Americas, and a few resilient hundred continue to be spoken today? Not to mention the attempted erasure of African languages via the violence of slavery and colonialism.

Moreover, indigenous languages in Latin America (and throughout the world) range from the genderless to the multigendered, going beyond the binary. This is another instance in which Guerra and Orbea, while claiming to denounce imperialism, actually fall into one of the markers of colonization: the erasure of indigenous history and its cultural legacy.

As for an argument against adopting the term, Latino Rebels deputy editor Hector Luis Alamo writes that, among other factors, the label doesn’t actually ensure that its adopters do the work needed to address issues surrounding intersectionality and gender and, besides, words and their meanings aren’t necessarily immutable:

For those hung up on the -o, I suggest they worry less about the history of Latino and discover its present meaning. Language isn’t dead, after all, but living. Definitions continue to transform all the time, all around us. The word no longer applies strictly to male Latinos but all Latinos, just as the “men” in “all men are created equal” now means all people. The word queer, for example, literally means “odd” or “worthless,” a fact which doesn’t keep millions in the LGBT community from donning the term proudly. The word Latino, once a fork, has evolved into a spork, and so there’s no reason to invent an all-purpose substitute.

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Credit: Alex Alvarez / mitú

Latina magazine, for its part, asked several transgender and gender non-conforming people to share why they personally prefer the term. One respondent explained that, for them, “The ‘x’ in Afro-Latinx serves as a nod to my gender neutrality and my commitment to a lack of participation in the gender binary.” Another noted that Spanish is a very gendered language adding, “So what about non-binary trans people? We love our culture and want to be included, too. I identify as Latinx to assure everyone’s voice is heard.”

It’s also worth pointing out that many of the same arguments that hold true for Latinx can also be applied to Chicanx.

So tell us: What do you think of the term?

Do you use it? Do you think it’s more relevant than using “Latino/a” or “Latin@”? Or maybe you identity as none of those terms and want to share which one you prefer!

Either way, let us know. We’re all ears.

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Credit: Tumblr

WATCH: Being Latina Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All: I Like to Listen to Heavy Metal, I Like Tattoos and I’m Latina

Want to share your views? We want to hear ’em. Tell us what you think, below.

This Comic Proves That The Great Debate On The Word ‘Latinx’ Rages On

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This Comic Proves That The Great Debate On The Word ‘Latinx’ Rages On

Terry Blas / Instagram

There is much debate about whether we should use Latino or Latinx. Languages tend to evolve over time, especially to account for changes in society. As the world becomes more tolerant it makes sense that we’d try to come up with a new word that includes the sprawling diversity, gender or otherwise, of Latin people. However, nothing last forever, and what was the standard one day might be yesterday’s news.

A recent comic by Mexican-American artist Terry Blas called “You Say Latinx,” has reignited the debate around Latinx vs. Latine. Blas decided to opt for using Latine, but as he notes in his comic, ultimately which word you choose to use is up to you. 

Why do some people use the word Latinx instead of Latino?

Spanish-language is gendered, with nouns ending in an “a” perceived as feminine, and nouns ending in an “o” regarded as masculine. As Raquel Reichard notes in Latina, the language is oft considered sexist with masculine nouns taking preference over feminine ones. Reichard gives the example of seven women being referred to as “Latinas” until a man shows up and suddenly it’s a group of “Latinos.” 

While some have tried to subvert the norm by using “a” instead of “o,” others noted that it simply isn’t inclusive enough. 

“But even these variations fall short, as they exclude the countless people of Latin American descent whose genders fall outside the woman-man binary—those identifying as agender (without a gender), nonbinary (beyond the traditional binary), or gender-fluid (fluctuating genders), among a spectrum of other identities,” Reichard writes.

Enter: Latinx. The term is a way of stripping away the sexism while also including all Latinxs. Added to the Meriam-Webster dictionary in 2018, it is defined as, “a gender-neutral term for Latin Americans, but it has been especially embraced by members of Latin LGBTQ communities as a word to identify themselves as people of Latin descent possessing a gender identity outside the male/female binary.”

However, there’s only one problem: how the heck do you say it? How the heck do you insert an “x” into a bunch of words in casual conversation? 

“The main issue is with flow. You have one term made gender-neutral, but the rest of Spanish’s conjugation isn’t. I try to stick to neutralizing words that refer to people but also am not personally pressed to change all of Spanish’s structure,” Jack Qu’emi Gutiérrez, a nonbinary femme author, told Latina

Illustrator Terry Blas chooses to us Latine instead of Latinx. 

In his comic “You Say Latinx,” Blas recounts how going to a drag show inspired him to start using Latine instead of Latinx. The reason was simple: it’s easier to apply, pronounce, and use. In the comic, he is disarmed by how seamlessly a drag queen on La Mas Drag used Latine and substituted an “e” anywhere an “o” or “a” would go. 

“Bienvenidos a todos,”  was changed to “bienvenides a todes.” Blas described the “e” as rolling off the tongue. 

“I find language, labels and terms interesting,” Blas told Remezcla. “Latinx is a term that I find fascinating and confusing, and I encountered people who didn’t know what it meant.”

Blas believes Latine and “e” are easier to implement into language than Latinx and the “x.”

“I would never tell anyone how to define themselves,” writes Blas in his comic. “Use whatever you like to be more inclusive. But I think I will use ‘e.’ Which means that for me Latinx just might become Latine.” 

How gendered-language hurts expectations for everyone. 

The reason many have opted to use Latinx instead of Latino, is similar to why we say postal worker instead of “mailman.” When we use gendered language it usually reveals what that culture thinks of that gender. Case in point, “mailman” implies we expect all postal workers to be men, which can make it harder for people besides men to get the job. On the flip side, we no longer call the role “stewardess” but rather that of a flight attendant, and that’s to include people besides women. 

Moreover, language doesn’t include the fact that not everyone identifies as a man or a woman, other identities exist and some of the people who have them are Latinx too.   

“When children hear a job title that has a gender mark on it, like an e-s-s ending or an m-a-n ending, and you ask them to draw pictures or talk about who’s doing that job, they will pick the one that matches the gender of the word,” Brigham Young University English professor Delys M. Snyder said. “If we’re going to be fair in opening up the world of work to men and women, and make it possible for everybody, maybe our job titles should reflect that.”

Thus, ridding away with gendered language can make society more equal for everybody involved. 

Trans Activists Of Color Protested At The CNN/HRC Equality Town Hall And Audience Members Applauded

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Trans Activists Of Color Protested At The CNN/HRC Equality Town Hall And Audience Members Applauded

Bryan Bedder / Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES

CNN and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hosted a historic town hall last night focusing on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community. The moderators and presidential candidates tackled topics and hard-hitting issues that have severely impacted the lives of millions of LGBTQ+ Americans. The town hall happened as the Supreme Court is deciding if LGBTQ+ people are deserving of the same discrimination protections as all Americans. Here’s what happened last night.

Texas politician Julián Castro made it clear that religion will not be an excuse for LGBTQ+ discrimination in his administration.

There have numerous attempts by local and state governments to legalize religious discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. The bills, often labeled as Religious Freedom bills, have been proposed in North Carolina and Indiana and failed. North Carolina wanted to legislate what bathroom people had to use and Indiana wanted to give religious organizations and business owners the license to outright discriminate against people based on their faith.

“If I’m elected president, the first order of business on January 20, 2021, will be to have a catalog with all of the different executive actions that this president, this administration, has taken, including exemptions that they’ve created or rolled back that has allowed people to discriminate against the LGBTQ, using as the reason their religion, their excuse their religion,” Castro told an audience member who asked how he will stop religious organizations from using their faith to dictate discriminatory laws. “I will go back to what we did in the Obama administration and then take it to the next level to protect the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that anybody should be bale to discriminate against you because you are a member of the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that folks should be getting funding if they’re doing that. I don’t believe that in the healthcare context, the housing context, the employment context that people should be able to do that. I support the Equality Act and will work to pass that. When I was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, we did the transgender rule, which as I mentioned, expanded the equal access rule so that transgender individuals can find shelter in a manner that they are comfortable with and in accordance to their preference and that’s what I would do as president.”

Castro’s performance during the LGBTQ+ town hall has received praise from LGBTQ+ people.

Credit: @cmclymer / Twitter

Castro was able to speak about the issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community with an understanding that proves he isn’t going off talking points.

His conversation about faith and the license to discriminate showed his understanding of religion and LGBTQ+ people of faith.

Credit: @TUSK81 / Twitter

Castro wants to keep religion from attacking the very LGBTQ+ people of faith who depend on it. For many religious LGBTQ+ people, seeing religious leaders claim that their faith doesn’t accept them is a harsh reality.

Trans women of color let their voices be heard in a town hall that largely ignored them.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg was interrupted when he started his time on the stage. Trans activist Bamby Salcedo and other trans women of color stormed the venue holding trans flag that read “We Are Dying.” The women chanted “We are dying” and “Do something.” Some audience members joined the women in their protest however others jumped up to take the flag away and end the protest.

Anderson Cooper, who was moderating for Buttigieg, spoke up for the women as they were escorted out telling the audience, “Let me just point out, there is a long and proud tradition in history in the gay, lesbian and transgender community of protest and we applaud them for their protest.”

Cooper continued saying, “And they are absolutely right to be angry and upset at the lack of attention, particularly in the media, of the lives of transgender [people].”

Another trans activist, Blossom C Brown, also took on the moderators about the lack of Black trans voices during the town hall.

A lot of the conversation during the town hall focused on issues impacting gay men, trans women, and bisexual people. Many are calling out the town hall for ignoring trans people of color, lesbians, and non-binary people when it comes to health, housing, identity expression, and other issues impacting these communities specifically.

Ashlee Marie Preston, the only trans Black woman in the program, was taken out of the program by CNN so she publicly boycotted the event.

Credit: @AshleeMPreston / Twitter

There was a pretty glaring lack of trans women and men of color during the hours of discussion about LGBTQ+ issues. It is a common complaint within the community as trans women of color have long been ignored and silenced within the LGBTQ+ Rights movement.

READ: After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody