What’s with the “x” in Latinx?

I was in a dealership waiting area while my car was getting an oil change when I heard the word “Latinx” in a COVID-19 press conference. It is not the first time I’ve heard the term, but this time it struck me. LATINX!

Why replace Latino with Latinx?

Recently, a new, gender-neutral, pan-ethnic label, Latinx, has emerged as an alternative that is used by some news and entertainment outlets, corporations, local governments and universities to describe the nation’s Hispanic population.

If we look at the history of the word, we can trace the use of Latinx’s first use back to a little more than a decade ago. The word’s recent introduction to mainstream culture led me to ask, why are the media, the government officials, and many others using it, and should we now adopt the term to refer to Latinos? In case you are not able to read everything, the short answer is, NO! But please allow me to give you a bit of the history of the word, three essential pieces of information, and my conclusion on why not to use it.

The first reason starts by explaining how the Spanish language works. The RAE (Real Academia española) is an organization created to preserve unity in the Spanish language and look out for the Spanish speakers’ ongoing needs. The RAE explains that in the nouns that identify groups of both genders, the grammatical masculine is not only used to talk about people that identify as males but rather, the term is inclusive of both sexes. For example, a group of teachers (of both genders) would be “Maestros.” Allow me to give you another quick example. The word “persona” (person) is in the female form, but it is inclusive of both sexes. Although one can argue grammar rules can change, and this might happen in regards to this particular rule in the future, for now, this is how Spanish works. Therefore grammatically, the word Latino(s) encompasses the idea of both Latinos and Latinas. It does not negate, nor does it reduce the value of either gendered form of the word.

Secondly, if you have used the term, have you ever stopped to think if Latinx carries the same weight, same cultural value, and deep-seated meaning to you as it would a native Spanish speaker? When we don’t consider the people that we are referring to, we are imposing something on them, whether intentional or not. A 2019 article by THE ATLANTIC points out, “…only 2 percent of America’s Latinos said they preferred the term.” Later in that same article, the author states, “To Latinos, Latinx may feel like an imposition by activists.” Another report from NBC News says, “As the term gains traction, some scholars are pointing out that there are Latinos who don’t see themselves reflected in the word. Some see Latinx as an elitist attempt to erase a history of more traditional gender roles, or as a distraction from other pressing issues facing Latinos in the United States.

Since its creation, Latinx has served to reflect inclusivity on behalf of the LGBT community; this is why it exists. But let’s make this clear- Latinos’ resistance to the term is not a rejection of “inclusion”, rather an opposition to the imposition of an unnecessary word.

The third and most important reason is the biblical truth (worldview). We should have no other worldview than the one provided by the Bible. Now I know you might say, “the Bible doesn’t say everything about every issue.” However, in this particular case, God’s word is explicit (for context, I invite you to listen to the message “Sexuality and Marriage” given by Pastor Jay on July 28, 2019. So now, we must ask if this is in agreement with God’s design and ruling.

I know that talking about the LGBTQ community is a sensitive topic, and I understand if you disagree with me, but here is the point. First, the idea behind “Latinx” (that of gender-neutrality) is outside God’s design and ruling. And secondly, the term’s imposition to the Latino community is unloving, not only because it won’t take into consideration how Latinos feel about the word, but also because biblical love is rooted in God’s word, ruling, character, and design. This term fails miserably to identify how he created us, according to His image, assigned with a specific gender. God designed us male and female. Imposing neutrality masking itself as inclusivity, is not loving. As Christians, we should speak the truth, not relative truth, but the only truth founded in God’s word.

So, what do we do? Let me start this final thought by giving you some practical things to consider.

  1. I understand that for some of us, using the word is not optional in our work field, so if your work field requires you to use Latinx, use it at work, but think about using the term Latinos outside of your work context.
  2. Now, I also understand that “Latinos” might sound exclusive to some; in this case, even though it is grammatically redundant, I would like you to consider using the terms Latinos and Latinas.
  3. Because of the gospel’s truth and His redeeming work in us, I have to ask that before we use new words, we consider researching and thinking of the intention and theology behind it. By doing so, you will be afforded the opportunity to honor your Latino neighbors and the Lord.

Latinx’s history, usage, and purpose fail to love Latinos and glorify God. It is not loving nor is it inclusive; it’s deleterious. It is the imposition of a culturally controversial and biblically incorrect interpretation rather than a grammatically and culturally appropriate word. Considering all of this is why I encourage us to reject the use of the term “Latinx.”

*The articles mentioned won’t necessarily agree with our values and convictions but were used to show that even in the more liberal media, they recognize the difficulties of the term in the Latino culture.