Latinx, Hispanic or Latino/a? The debate that has confused a community

Tania Ortiz, Opinion Editor

In our current society, we have adapted to using gender-neutral and non-discriminatory identifiers. Using these terms gives those who are non-binary a way to identify themselves properly.

More recently, the use of the term Latinx has become a subject for debate within the community and in the media. And, as we are approaching the end of Latino/a Heritage Month, we have to ask a question that may not have a singular answer.

Latino/a, Hispanic or Latinx?

Latino/a is the term traditionally used by individuals from Latin American countries and their  descendants. 

While the term Latinx implies the same identity, it is preferred by individuals who do not want to imply a gender binary. 

Lastly there is Hispanic, which refers to individuals who are from Spanish speaking countries or who are of Spanish descent.

The terms are interchangeable and practically carry the same meaning. But, as society changes, there is a need to have identifiers for those who do not necessarily fit within a binary.

The usage of the term Latinx is not common in the community. But, when we do hear or see it in use, it’s mainly through media outlets or through academic institutions, who are trying to be inclusive. The younger generation tends to use the term more than the older generation, as they become more informed on inclusivity.

 Recently, Pew Research Center revealed that only 23 percent of adults who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino/a have heard the term Latinx. Additionally, only a mere 3 percent use the term. 

The national survey done by The Pew Research Center surveyed more than 3,000 respondents, which considering the United States Latino/a population is 60.6 million as of 2019 may not necessarily give an accurate representation of the entire demographic. But, the data gives us an idea of how the term is viewed.

On the other hand, many people within the community argue about the origin of the term Latinx, claiming that it was created by non-Hispanic white academics gentrifying the culture and the terms to seem more “white.” The term Latinx was coined in the late 90s as a way to be inclusive, but only recently started to gain traction a couple of years ago.

Another argument that is constantly brought up surrounding the use of the term is that there is no such thing as the word Latinx in the Spanish language. 

I can’t tell you how many Twitter threads or Instagram comments I have seen that go on about this argument. It’s true that in the Spanish language there is no such thing as Latinx and the letter x is seldomly used in the language. But also remember, Spanish is a gendered language.

I accredit this to the instilled patriarchy in the Latinx culture and the construct of gender, in general – the need to be one thing or the other and if you identify otherwise, something isn’t right with you. Even though we are becoming more inclusive of non-binary folks, there are always going to be individuals who stick to tradition.

The way I see it, we should be able to use any term that we feel we identify ourselves with. There shouldn’t be a debate about it – even though there is. As a Latinx individual, I use Latina and Latinx interchangeably. Sometimes I don’t even use either and just say I’m Mexican.

It is whatever you want it to be. Latinx, Latino/a or Hispanic, you choose what you want to identify yourself as and it shouldn’t matter what people have to say about it.