Opinion: Rejecting the Term ‘Latinx’ Is As Transphobic as Anti-Trans Bills — Here’s Why
What emerged as an umbrella term for people who did not feel comfortable with the genders established by the hetero-patriarchal system ended up reduced to tantrums of cis people.
Amid the debate, many have forgotten the real intent behind “Latinx.”
When the polls are wrong
The term “Latinx” first appeared in the early 1980s. It was conceived as a word for people of Latin American descent who do not identify as either male or female.
While countries such as Argentina and Spain transformed Spanish nouns with the ending “e,” in English it was not so simple.
That’s why people in the LGBTQ+ community began using the “x” as a way to break the gender binary.
However, surveys of U.S. Latinos revealed that the vast majority prefer terms such as Hispanic and Latina/Latino to describe themselves. Only 2-3% use Latinx.
But that 2-3% is precisely representative of the LGBTQ+ community. The mistake has been to poll the predominantly heterosexual community, whose results are biased.
Of over 65 million Latinos in the U.S., 2.3 are part of the LGBTQ+ community. That’s the 3% the polls are talking about.
Dear heterosexuals, the term ‘Latinx’ is not about you
The problem many Latinos have with the neologism “Latinx” has a lot to do with their privilege and nothing to do with what really matters.
And the mistake has been the media’s.
The term “Latinx” appeared on the Internet around 2004. Activists, students, and academics incorporated the word into their speeches to defend non-binary and genderqueer people. Heterosexual people were never forced to identify as Latinx.
Amid their ignorance, the media started using it as a “woke” symbol at a time when the split between political parties was getting deeper and deeper.
No, being Latinx does not mean being a Democrat. Just as being Latino or Latina does not mean being a Republican.
This is on you, journalists.
The misinformation reached such a point that Democratic members of the Black and Puerto Rican caucuses introduced legislation to ban the use of “Latinx” in government documents.
They just didn’t understand the issue at all.
The anti-trans movement and widespread transphobia
In a country where 97% of Latinos identify as heterosexual, it is not surprising that people in positions of power overlook the needs of a minority.
But when the rights of the LGBTQ+ community become cannon fodder in the political arena, the consequences are dire. The normalization of transphobia, for example.
In a country where the conservative wing has radicalized against access to health care for transgender people, banned books, and even drag shows, whether we call ourselves Latinos, Latinas, Latines, or any other term should matter little.
Moreover, in a country where trans-Latinx people have the highest unemployment rate and live in extreme poverty, to be offended because a journalist writes a noun with “x” is ridiculous.
New studies found that 47% of Latinx people suffer from suicidal ideation, and 77% have had to cope with alarming rates of bullying, physical assault, and sexual assault.
Now, on the crest of the wave of anti-trans initiatives, our community and our rights have once again become a bargaining chip in political fights.
Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S. were bombarded with anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans messages in the lead-up to the midterm elections.
One flier in Colorado read, “Joe Biden and his political allies are indoctrinating your children.” Another said, “radical and irreversible gender experiments on children.”
Meanwhile, we are only 3% of the population, but we get the biggest piece of the discrimination cake.
Just think, if a handful of laws want to deny the transgender community the possibility of living their truth, denying them to identify as Latinx is just as transphobic. Only it’s even more painful because the rejection comes directly from the community we were born into.