Several state Democratic lawmakers in Connecticut are seeking to ban state agencies from using “Latinx,” – the latest example of political backlash against the term.
Members of the Connecticut state House introduced a bill last month that would prohibit state agencies and employees acting on behalf of state agencies from using “Latinx” in official communications.
Rep. Geraldo Reyes, one of the primary sponsors of the bill, told CNN on Thursday that he and his colleagues behind the bill are Puerto Rican and consider the term offensive.
“It’s a term that we believe is unnecessary because the Spanish language, which is 1,500-plus years old, already identifies male, female and neutral,” Reyes said on “CNN Newsroom,” adding that “Latin” and “Latino” were both gender-neutral options.
Reyes told CNN that a state House committee is screening the bill, and that he hopes it will soon receive a public hearing. If the committee approves the bill, it would need to pass the state House and Senate and be signed by the governor before it becomes law. Democrats have full government control in Connecticut.
Some activists, academics, companies and progressive groups have adopted “Latinx” in an effort to include those who fall outside the male/female gender binary. But many Hispanics and Latinos take issue with the term, calling it clunky and nonsensical for Spanish speakers.
The term has also been swept up into the nation’s culture wars. In one of her first acts as Arkansas governor, Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders barred the use of “Latinx” in official state documents and ordered a review of state agencies’ past usage of the term. GOP Rep. Monica De La Cruz of Texas, meanwhile, mocked the term during her victory speech last November, characterizing her win as “a victory for every single Hispanic who loves the Spanish language and does not want to be called Latinx.”
While “Latinx” is often derided by those on the right, politicians from both parties have expressed opposition to the term. Aside from the state lawmakers in Connecticut, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona said in 2021 that he had instructed his office not to use the term in official communications.
“Look y’all. Hispanic, Latin American are gender neutral. So we have already gender neutral options to describe the Latino community. Adding an x and creating a new word comes off as performative,” Gallego tweeted at the time. “It will not lose you an election but if your staff and consultants use Latinx in your mass communication it likely means they don’t understand the Latino community and is indicative of deeper problems.”
Few people use the term ‘Latinx’
Data suggests that “Latinx” is not widely used among the people it is meant to describe.
A Pew Research Center survey published in 2020 found that only about one in four adults in the US who identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard the term “Latinx,” while just 3% say they use it to describe themselves. Those who used the term tended to be younger, US-born and Democratic-leaning. They were also more likely to be bilingual or predominately English speakers and were more likely to have gone to college.
Similarly, a 2021 Gallup poll found that just 4% of Hispanic and Latino Americans prefer the term “Latinx” over “Hispanic” and “Latinx,” though a majority of respondents said it didn’t matter to them which term was used.
Other surveys point to divides along cultural lines. An Axios-Ipsos Latino poll in partnership with Telemundo from last year found that a majority of Mexican Americans surveyed were comfortable with the term “Latinx,” while around just one in three Central Americans were.
Critics of “Latinx” have noted that the term falls outside the bounds of Spanish grammar and is difficult for Spanish speakers to pronounce. And given its popularity among predominately English speakers, some also feel that the term imposes English conventions upon Spanish speakers.
In recent years, others have opted for new alternatives such as “Latiné,” which is gender-neutral and more consistent with the way Spanish is spoken.
CNN’s Gustavo Valdes and Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.