Latinx Heritage Month is almost here!! The closer it gets, the more I have been thinking about the word Latinx. A couple of weeks ago, a study published in Pew Research Center analyzing data from 2019 National Survey of Latinos sparked some misleading information. In the survey, 3,030 Hispanics (I’m going with the term of the research, but please note Hispanic is not my favorite term at all) were asked about the term Latinx and their views about it. It was concluded then, like it always happens on twitter, by randoms, that the term Latinx is a tool of white Americans to take over our language? our minds? I have not idea, it’s a pretty ridiculous point.
You see, this is not new, every once in a while someone tries to come at David Bowles, Mexican-American scholar and writer, to cry how asking for a gender-neutral language is the gringos agenda and we shouldn’t conform. David is very unspoken about the use of Latinx and I highly recommended follow him. You can also check out his article for Medium.
It’s not lost to me that majority of latinos being so loud about the whole thing are… white latinos. The joke tells itself, really.
The thing is, the more I think about LHM, a dread grows at the pit of my stomach. I’m thinking of the bigots who always find our content to complain how IT IS NOT A REAL WORD. But I’m also thinking about the white allies who ask, time and time again, why do we use Latinx and could we explain to them? pretty please? one more time?
That’s not fair, I understand folks are curious and many outsiders of the community really don’t know. But also, god, this country is just so evil and the way we’re dehumanized and I’m just tired. So I’ll do this once, just for this time that I feel vulnerable, I will talk why I use Latinx for myself and about some of the lies that are being spread.
Latinx in the community
Latinx community has strict gender roles, I’ll be the first one to admit it and scream about it. Adding to the racism, colorism, anti-Indigenous, ableism and classicism. But please note I’m talking form my place, as a biracial Argentinian immigrant.
For years, the homophobia made me feel like I was suffocating in Argentina. I never felt like I could explore my sexuality or gender because every breath felt an act of survival. The first time I heard the word Latinx, it felt liberating. It felt right.
I left Argentina in 2015 and not long after that, I could see a shift in the country. The idea of an inclusive language, as it’s called gender-neutral language in many parts of Latin American, is not new. Folks have pushed for a reconstruction of our whole systems for decades, language included. But after some viral videos, the use of “e” in Argentina was a discussion everyone was having. All this is to say, I find ridiculous the notion that white Americans came with the idea of Latinx. It’s quite disrespectful to all the activists in Latin American that tirelessly work for a better world.
To clarify, many Latin Americans use Latine instead because it’s easier for the tongue, you see, that X sound in Spanish doesn’t work so well. Latinx means exactly the same thing, but it’s preferred for many English-speakers. Be mindful that some folks would like instead to be called Latine.
It’s not a coincidence that the push back against a gender-inclusive language is so loud and persistent, it comes back to twitter like clockwork. The Latinx community doesn’t take kindly to acts of rebellions, to highlighting the broken system, to making space to queer folks. When we are asking for a language that recognizes and respects our entire community, the push back comes with violent force. How dare you, cis white latinx men say to scream, how dare you to try destroy our power.
Don’t get it wrong, this is about power and the fear of having to confront the homophobia that lives in the community. Language grows and changes and adapts, but some macho dinosaurs refuse to let of their space.
When the tweets about the research and graphics were shared, I saw well-intention allies confused about it, should you use latino instead? I’m glad you’re listening to the community, but you have to pay attention where criticism is coming from. And what are your marginalized Latinx friends saying.
There are so many misconceptions about Latinx, where it came from, who coined it, who can use it. But at the end of the day, it’s clear who hates it, who despises it with so much fervor that refuse to see beyond their lies.
Latinx in my life
As I said, I didn’t understand right in that moment why Latinx felt so right. I would soon realize, in a new space that let me see beyond the homophobia and misogyny of my family, that I was queer and that I wasn’t cis. And I wasn’t Hispanic (never Hispanic), and I was not Latina. I’m Latinx, period. A full sentence right there.
I use Latinx to reclaim my space in a community that doesn’t want me. I use Latinx so my voice carries loud. I use Latinx for my trans and non-binary siblings. I use Latinx because I am here.
I don’t need to explain beyond that, I actually I don’t care if you completely grasp it. Every time someone uses Latinx I feel like we’re breaking our rigid society apart piece by piece to build something better. I know, this is the dreamer on me, I hope for a better world, but I see it changing. Not only here in the United States, I see the change in my own country, in all over Latin American, and it fills me with love. This is how it starts, right? We take that first step to take our space.
So I am Latinx. Period, full sentence right there.
If you wish to, you can buy me a ko-fi.