The gender-neutral term “Latinx” was officially added to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary earlier this month.
By definition, the word is most commonly used for individuals of Latin American descent who are gender-nonconforming or who choose not to be identified by gender. Others have met this word with resistance, arguing that the word is grammatically and orally impractical to the Spanish language.
The preferred term for people from the Latin American diaspora has long been a topic of uncertainty for many who fall into that category. A Pew Research Center report found that most individuals prefered using their family’s country of origin to describe themselves, including words like “Mexican,” “Cuban,” and “Salvadorian,” for example.
The categories Hispanic or Latino, on the other hand, have often been used as broader terms to help individuals situate themselves in American society. The fluidity of identity has also contributed to the introduction of politically charged names, like Chicano/a, to pan-ethnic ones, like Hispanic.
In a community with a myriad of origins, a suitable name can be difficult to agree upon. If you’re of Latin-American descent, what label do you relate to most? Does the word of choice change in different contexts? Call us at 866-893-5722 and weigh in.
Louis DeSipio, professor of political science and Chicano/Latino studies at UC Irvine