This post is also available in: Español
A recent debate on Twitter began between the Real Academia Española, known as the RAE, and several users. The RAE holds that use of the letter “x” to replace the “o” and “a” — to create a gender-neutral word like Latinx that includes everyone — is incorrect and not suitable for Spanish-speaking countries.
We must of course remember that within the immense spectrum of LGBTQ identities, there are individuals who do not identify with the masculine or the feminine gender, most commonly referred to as non-binary. In this instance, modifying the language is an attempt at being all-inclusive. If an individual does not self-identify as male or female, it makes sense to move away from using masculine or feminine language structure to refer to them.
But the RAE maintains that the correct way to refer to a group of people (including all genders) is to use the masculine form for nouns and adjectives. This has also generated some discussion about the Spanish language’s predilection for male-oriented words (or machismo).
In the United States, derived from the large and various groups of people living stateside who hail from Latin American countries, the term “Latinx” has been coined — and is recognized by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. This term has been appointed to avoid use of the words “Hispanic” and “Latin American,” which often lack sufficient identification for the Latino (or Latinx) community.
While the use of Latinx began as an issue of territorial identification, Latinos in the United States who are part of the LGBTQ community have appropriated the term to refer to non-binary people as an attempt to respect all types of gender identity.
Living in a world that respects inclusion and that is empathetic to the identification needs of others also includes making language changes that are necessary to stay ahead of the times in which we live. It’s important that we find ways to include, rather than exclude, in the way we communicate.
Do you think the RAE should adopt new terms like Latinx that promote inclusion? Sound off in the comments.
Featured image by Elle.com