What is so significant about adding the letter “x” to the word “Latino?” To activists, it solves a confounding problem: There is no “gender-neutral” way to refer to individuals in the Spanish language. Someone, for example, may be described as a “Latino” writer (if a man) or a “Latina” writer (if a woman), but there is no phrasing for those who don’t consider themselves male or female.
But in the early 2000s, activists came up with a solution: Replace the “o” in masculine words like “Latino” and the “a” in feminine words like “Latina” with a gender-neutral “x” to create the inclusive term “Latinx.”
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By Shannon Watkins is senior writer with the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.