Latino or Latinx: An Argument for Preservation


The terms Latino and Latina are terms that entered the English language to describe people of Latin American descent. For many years, these terms have been the widely accepted form of addressing these people, however the terms are no longer seen as appropriate because they don’t include non-binary people who don’t identify specifically as male or female. 

A new term was created to include all people of Latin American descent: Latinx. It is a gender-neutral word that defines any person whose ancestry is from Latin America. Although the term Latinx solves the problem of misgendering an individual with Latin American descent, I believe that it shouldn’t be forced upon others as a replacement for the existing terminology. 

Using Latinx as a replacement for the other term unnecessarily complicates the Spanish language. The term Latinx replaces the o/a ending common to almost every word in the Spanish language. The “o” ending defines masculinity whereas the “a” ending defines femininity. Using the term Latinx works in some cases, but the same cannot be said for the entirety of the language. If you were call to a non-binary sibling in Spanish, you would have to use hermano which is a masculine term that means sibling as well brother. Sentences change to accommodate the gender of the subject like in the sentence, Ella quiere ir al cine. It is impossible to have non-gendered pronouns in Spanish because they are gender-specific. Although you can just use names when talking about someone else, it makes sentences longer than they should be, and constantly using Spanish without anaphora is difficult. I concede that it is important to recognize the validity of genders other than male or female, but the Spanish language isn’t fit for many changes because it is entirely gender specific.

Although I think that Latinx could be used in the English language, I don’t think that it should be forced upon Spanish speakers because it is difficult to embrace. For years the terms Latino and Latina have unified people of the same ethnic background. Many people have comfortably identified with these terms their entire lives. To try and change them would make some people feel uncomfortable because they don’t represent the community that they are used to. If you were to ask an elderly person of Latin American descent if they identified as Latinx, chances are they probably have never heard of the term and wouldn’t want to use it. There isn’t a problem with progressive language; the problem is that there are always people who don’t want to use them or who can’t see the need for them in their life.

To conclude, there is a need for more progressive language in our community because it helps others find a proper identity in society. The language chosen, however, should not be forced upon others as it may bother or hurt some members of the community. The terms Latino needed some time for people to get used to them, so possibly the case might be the same for Latinx.