If Latinx isn’t Right, What Is?

The new term for gender inclusivity may go on to do more harm than good, but what should we use to be inclusive in Spanish?

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Over the last couple of years, gender neutral language has become more common in our day-to-day vocabulary. I’m sure you’ve come across the term “Latinx,” pronounced “Latin-Ex.” Latinx is the gender binary alternative word for Latino and Latina. The “o” in Latino is a male identifier in the Spanish language and the “a” in Latina is a female identifier. Latinx is used for people of Latin American descent that do not identify as either gender, are gender fluid, or that are on the spectrum of gender identity.

Spanish is a gendered language just like French, Portuguese and Italian. People consider these languages to be sexist because of the masculine and feminine nouns within the language. For example, in the Spanish language a group consisting of female cousins is called “las primas” but as soon a male joins the group they are considered “los primos” because of the one male member.

Before 2015, gender-fluid and non-binary people of Latin American descent have tried countless times to convince members of the Latin American community to use gender neutral language but failed because of ignorance and difficulty of understanding what the term Latinx actually means. It also turns out that Latinx is actually pretty difficult for Spanish speakers to pronounce and some believe it even “gentrifies” the meaning of what it is to be Latin American.

Gilbert Orbea and Gilbert Guerra, two students at Swarthmore College who wrote an article for their campus newspaper, believe the term Latinx is a form of linguistic imperialism by the U.S. Mainly because the letter “x” cannot grammatically or orally translate in the Spanish language.

“The term “Latinx” is used almost exclusively within the United States,” Orbea said. “They are putting a distinctively American viewpoint into a language without appreciation or reverence for it.”

Guerra added, “that’s reverse appropriation, where we blatantly force our worldview into another culture.”

Now you’re probably wondering: if not Latinx, then what? Good question.

Another term that is gender inclusive that Spanish speakers are able to pronounce in their daily life is the term “Latine.” Similar to the pronunciation of the word “gente,” the term “Latine” rolls off the tongue much easier than “Latinx,” making the pronunciation easier for Spanish speakers.

The leading argument and question when it comes to using Latinx is: how the hell are you supposed to use it while speaking Spanish?

Orbea and Guerra used this example sentence to further explain their point: “Lxs niñxs fueron a lx escuelx a ver sus amigxs.”

If it is written on paper, many are able to translate this sentence, but while speaking to one another how does it make sense? Replacing “x” with the letter “e” makes it easier for spanish speakers to say it out loud.

“Les niñes fueron a le escuele a ver sus amiges,” would be the easier and logical way to avoid gender rooted words in the Spanish language.

Mt. SAC student Alexa Vazquez said she prefers using Latine over Latinx, specifically when she is speaking with older family members.

“Latine flows better in conversation,” Vazquez said. “When you think about it, what words in the Spanish language end with the letter ‘x’?”

Evelyn Pantoja, 18, believes the opposite. They prefer the term Latinx because of the inclusivity the word has over Latine and the normalization Latinx has in the Hispanic community versus Latine.

“I prefer Latinx because it is more inclusive of those who identify outside the gender binary,” Pantoja said. “As someone who identifies as non-binary, it makes me feel included in the culture of it all.”

Pantoja added, “I think the Hispanic community has sort of normalized using the term Latinx. We shouldn’t be changing it now that people are used to it.”

Both terms “Latinx” and “Latine” are both considered to be correct and have positive intentions behind them. One word isn’t necessarily better than the other. It all comes down to what you are most comfortable using and identifying with.