Reluctance to change is natural. In fact, it is almost necessary. But when it comes to small revolutions toward inclusion, this resistance is perceived as a whim to maintain structures that favor a few.
Such is the case with the rejection that the neologism “Latinx” causes in the U.S. Hispanic population.
The identity crisis of this demographic in the country is nothing new. Its need to distinguish itself but simultaneously be accepted has permeated the language, opening the way for descriptors such as “Hispanic” in the 1970s, and “Latino” in the 1990s.
However, both continued to perpetuate linguistic sexism and the exoneration of other genders and identities from the discussion.
This coincides with the coming of age of a generation that is more aware, more open, and more sensitive to social struggles, one that has been delicately inserting the “Latinx” neologism into all platforms — from WhatsApp conversations to the headlines of major publications.
However, and to the surprise of the writer of this article, the Pew Research Center published a new study in which it found that only 23% of U.S. adults who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard of the term Latinx, and just 3% say they use it to describe themselves.
From being a makeshift terminology to nullify the traditional male-female duality, “Latinx” became a bone of contention between families, between colleagues and, of course, on Twitter.
According to the Pew, some of those who refuse to use the neologism argue that it is a deformation of the language by the English tongue and that it attempts against the crusade of Latinos to maintain the roots of their vocabulary, even living in the United States.
But younger generations are advocating a term that would include all the genders embraced by the LGBTQ movement, as well as eliminate once and for all the male dominance of Cervantes’ language.
The research figures highlight precisely that the age range between 18 and 29 has had the most contact with the new word (42%), compared to people over 65 (7%). The Pew also notes that “Hispanics with college experience are more likely to be aware of Latinx than those without college experience,” and Hispanics who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party are more likely to have heard of Latinx than those who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party (29% vs. 16%).
However, as the figures clearly show, whether you’ve heard the term or not, it does not imply that the person should feel identified with what it represents.
Here is the thing:
Latinx terminology is, for many, a symbol of struggle; for others, a whim of a generation that refuses to have children and prefers to take care of plants and cats. But the simple fact that it is a disruptive-enough phenomenon to be on everyone’s lips means that it has already done much of its job.