A group of Hispanic state lawmakers in Connecticut are trying to ban use of the word “Latinx” from official government documents — claiming the term is “offensive” to Spanish-speakers.
Five Hispanic Democrats from the state have proposed legislation to outlaw the gender-neutral alternative to “Latino” or “Latina” that describes people of Latin American descent.
The bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Geraldo Reyes Jr., called Latinx a “woke” term that insults Connecticut’s large Puerto Rican community.
“I’m of Puerto Rican descent and I find it offensive,” Reyes said.
However, supporters say the descriptor is more inclusive to both women and gender-non-confirming folks. The masculine plural “Latinos” is used to refer to a group of both men and women in the Spanish language.
Reyes said “Latino” is already inclusive.
“The Spanish language, which is centuries old, defaults to Latino for everybody,” he said. “It’s all-inclusive. They didn’t need to create a word, it already exists.”
Republicans have also come after the term in their war against the so-called “woke.”
Last month, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders — former Trump White House press secretary — banned government officials from using Latinx on state documents in one of the first actions the Republican took within hours of taking office.
However, the move seemed to be more for political show than action. “Latinx” doesn’t appear to be widely used among Arkansas government officials.
In Connecticut, a keyword search for the word on the state’s government portal returned 945 hits in documents including press releases, blogs and reports.
Many Latin Americans have rejected the descriptor themselves — especially older generations.
In 2021, the oldest Hispanic civil rights group in the US — the League of United Latin American Citizens — announced that it would no longer use the term Latinx.
David Pharies, a Spanish language professor at the University of Florida, said the use of an “x” to replace an “a” or “o” breaks with the typical grammar of the language and is unfamiliar to native speakers.
“Latinx was clearly a solution that was proposed outside the Spanish-speaking world,” Pharies said.
He added that “Latine” which is sometimes used for the same person is more intuitive to Spanish speakers.
However, Maia Gil’Adi, an assistant professor of “Latinx and Multiethnic Literature” at Boston University, said the term actually originated from Latin American youth and queer culture in the 1990s.
The “x”, she said, is a nod to many people’s indigenous roots.
“The word Latino is incredibly exclusionary, both for women and for non-gender conforming people,” she said. “And the term Latinx is really useful because of the way it challenges those conceptions.”
With Post wires