It might sound weird to say out loud. Latinx (la-teen-ex) is not shorthand for your Latino ex-boyfriend. As many Spanish speakers already know, words that end in “a” in the Spanish language are feminine, while words that end in “o” are masculine. Niña means girl and niño means boy. So Latinos and Latinas are groups of men and women from latin countries, who we celebrate in Latino Heritage Month. But, what about people who are gender-nonconforming? They don’t identify as a girl or a boy. You may have heard the term genderqueer, nonbinary, or genderfluid.
People part of these groups do not specifically identify with one gender or the other, or identify and express a combination of the two. It’s very real, and while it may be confusing for people outside of this community, it doesn’t take much time to understand when you meet or learn about someone who is nonbinary.
Sophomore Raven Skye Jackson, who identifies as Afro-Latina, says “the language in itself is very gender focused, so to have a word that doesn’t focus on if it’s a masculine or feminine word is great for those who are part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.” Jackson says it’s important that everyone has a right to be proud of the culture, especially when they can sometimes be judgemental. “The older generations want you to live a certain life,” she said, “It is changing but still, slowly.”
Basically, if there are nonbinary people, and there are Latino people, there must be nonbinary Latinos. Latinx is their word, created so that they are not forced back into the gender binary by this categorization. Oftentimes this is seen as trivial or even a nuisance — even from the viewpoint of those of latin american heritage. When you’re someone who doesn’t need the pronoun, it’s increasingly difficult to see the importance of this use.
The use of Latinx stems from the push to use gender-nonconforming pronouns. People who identify as a boy use “he” and “his.” People who identify as a girl use “she” and “her.” They’re very specific to gender and if you think about it, these are the only options. If you were a person who didn’t fully identify with either gender, this would present a problem for you. That’s why the use of “they” and “them” has become so popular — it doesn’t assume gender. And that’s why Latinx is gaining traction, too. Jackson says that words like these are “necessary in order to promote growth.”
What does it mean to be Latinx? It means to be part of a thriving, beautiful community of 20 countries and 6 territories. Some percentage of that is gender-nonconforming. Whether you think Latinx is useful or not, a lot of people appreciate its inclusive nature. Essentially, the word makes the Latinx population an even more diverse family.