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Phoenix moves to “Latinx”

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

“Hey, do we correct for ‘Latinx’?” was a question that baffled the copy editors at the Phoenix some weeks ago. The Associated Press handbook, always consulted and ready at hand, had none of its usual wisdom to offer on this particular occasion. In light of the lack of standardization, it seemed that the decision lay in the hands of the copy editors. We at the Phoenix have thus decided to accept and adopt the use of “Latinx” in our publication. On a practical level, this means that the traditional “Latino” and “Latina” will henceforth be used when grammatical agreement is appropriate, and “Latinx” will be used as a gender-neutral term on all other occasions.

Many online publications have already adopted the use of the term, although seemingly not in a standardized fashion. We at the Phoenix hope that publishing this editorial will make clear that the change is intentional and deliberate, and that we specifically sanction the use of the form.

Our readers may be aware that we have previously published pieces arguing for or against the appropriateness and inclusiveness of the term. In our issue from Nov. 19, 2015, Gilbert Guerra and Gilbert Orbea’s “The argument against the use of the term ‘Latinx’” inaugurated the discussion. A response by Jesus Hernández and Brandon Torres was published in the subsequent issue, on Dec. 3, 2015. Adopting the term means we are taking sides in this debate. We at the Phoenix believe that “Latinx” is a term that does important work towards disarticulating the inherent gender binary present in the Spanish language. We are aware that masculine grammatical forms are considered inclusive of feminine forms. Still, we believe this is not enough. We understand the concerns with “linguistic imperialism” that Guerra and Orbea have brought up, but, as they point out themselves, the term is used mostly within the United States. Instead of interpreting this as a case of “how English speakers can’t seem to stop imposing their social norms on other cultures,” as Guerra and Orbea argue, we would like to acknowledge, as Hernández and Torres already have, that Latinx people are indeed an important part of this country and are thus implicated in shaping its discursive culture. English speakers are not part of a separate culture from that of Latinxs—in fact, as Hernández and Torres point out, the term originated with Latinx students, who in many cases are native speakers of English.

While the debate on the term is still ongoing in Latinx communities, we at the Phoenix have decided to adopt it to honour its inclusive intent. We may not be the Real Academia Española de la Lengua—that ivory bastion of standardization—but sometimes we, too, make our own rules.

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