We’re asking nicely, because we think the use of the term has been mostly well-intentioned. But let’s start with some numbers: a mere 3 percent of Americans of Latin-American descent use “Latinx” to describe themselves. This is based on a 2020 Pew Research poll of about 3,000 American Latinos.
Those who want for “Latinx” to become the default say it’s preferable because it’s a neutral term that can apply to anyone, whether male of female or “other.” But there is already a word that can be used by an individual who does not want to identify as male or female. That word is “Latino.” There is already a word that can be used to describe a group of males and females, or others. That word is “Latinos.”
The term “Latinx” originated in activist circles primarily in the U.S., and the made-up word has unfortunately started to gain purchase with those in the news media and other institutions who think that using it shows respect for Latino culture. The intent was to provide a word that would be “inclusive” for those who eschew the gender binary. Spanish is a gendered language, in which all words are considered either masculine or feminine. La gente: The people. La casa: The house. El gato: The cat. Even if the cat is female.
When describing a male, we say he is “Latino.” When describing a female, we say she is “Latina.” A group of males is referred to as “Latinos; a group of females, “Latinas.” When the group is a mix males and females, we say “Latinos.” Or if it’s a term of undefined gender, the default is “Latino.” The Latino vote. Latino culture. And so on. Although the notion of a singular Latino vote or culture is up for debate, but that’s another subject.
Spanish is a beautiful language that, like many other languages including French, Italian, and Arabic, is gendered. The governing body that is tasked with maintaining the consistency of the Spanish language has rejected “Latinx” as a word, calling it unnecessary. The vast majority of Latinos either do not like it, do not use it, or have never even heard of it. In fact, most Latinos in the US don’t even refer to themselves as Latino and prefer to say Mexican-American, or Cuban-American, or Salvadoran-American, etc. Or just American.
So please, Chattanooga. Stop calling us “Latinx.”