It’s a good week for the queer Latin American community: Merriam-Webster Dictionary has officially added the gender-neutral term “Latinx” to its pages.
The label, a variant of the gendered terms “Latino” (male) and “Latina” (female), entered into the dictionary earlier this week along with more than 840 other words. The term has gained popularity as a gender-neutral and trans-inclusive alternative among LGBTQ Spanish-speaking circles, since most identifiers in Spanish are gendered with an “-o” or “-a” ending.
“Though Latinx is becoming common in social media and in academic writing, it is unclear whether it will catch on in mainstream use,” wrote Merriam-Webster in an older blog post about the word. “Nevertheless, it is gaining noticeable traction among the general public as a gender-inclusive term for Latin Americans of diverse identities and orientations.”
This week, members of the Latinx community took to Twitter to share their thoughts about the term’s symbolic entrance into mainstream culture:
— Jeronimo Saldaña (@JeronimoSaldana) September 5, 2018
Not sure about you guys, but the fact that “Latinx” is now part of the Merriam-Webster dictionary is a little exciting for me https://t.co/I5hTYAGajz
— Dirce Toca (@dircetoca) September 6, 2018
Progress! @MerriamWebster Dictionary has added Latinx
: of, relating to, or marked by Latin American heritage —used as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina
As we transition from a minority to a majority, we will continue to fight for visibility. pic.twitter.com/F3htgt4uvQ
— Antonio (@AntonioArellano) September 6, 2018
However, not everybody is totally on board with the genderless term. In a 2015 op-ed for Latino Rebels, writer Hector Luis Alamo made a case against adopting “Latinx”:
…For those hung up on the “-o,” I suggest they worry less about the history of Latino and discover its present meaning. Language isn’t dead, after all, but living. Definitions continue to transform all the time, all around us. The word no longer applies strictly to male Latinos but all Latinos, just as the “men” in “all men are created equal” now means all people. The word queer, for example, literally means “odd” or “worthless,” a fact which doesn’t keep millions in the LGBT community from donning the term proudly.
Oh, in case you were wondering: It’s pronounced “luh-TEE-neks,” according to Merriam-Webster.