HomeConmemorando a la Comunidad: Latinx Experiences at Trinity UniversityAboutWhy Latinx Experiences?

Why Latinx Experiences?

Gender aspect

Latinx is a gender neutral version of the word Latino/Latina and refers to people of Latin American descent. Moreover the word is inclusive of any gender identities beyond man and woman. Throughout this project, we hope to address the experiences of queer Latinx students at Trinity, and using gender neutral language can help signal that. In the Spanish language, the majority of words are gendered as feminine or masculine, and Latinx breaks this trend and thereby is free from gender. 

There is some uncertainty as to when people began using Latinx, however, some theorize it started between the 1970’s to the 1990’s with feminists X’ing out the O’s on print material to reject the idea that male or masculinity was the default– it is standard to use the masculine version of a word in Spanish when using plural nouns. On the other hand, the beginning of the term is also frequently associated with the early 2000’s in online queer culture. It is likely that when the word was created people were not considering the pronunciation of the word, which has been a point of contention for some. To solve this issue, some people have initiated using the ending -e to make words gender-neutral, as the pronunciation is much easier in Spanish than with the term Latinx and is popular among critics of “Latinx”. Furthermore, this language transformation also led to the development of the gender-neutral pronoun “elle”.  The main reason we decided not to use Latine experiences is that Latinx is  more often used in academia and would thus be more cohesive with other scholarly works. Additionally, when describing this community, organizations at Trinity most often use Latinx instead of Latine. 



The term ‘Hispanic’ first appeared in the Census in 1980 and was defined as individuals with Spanish-origin and it specifically pointed towards Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, and Puerto Ricans. In addition, there was also an option to be “other Spanish/Hispanic” for those who considered identifying themselves with another country of origin or were third or fourth generation Mexican American. While the question and the word “Hispanic” itself aimed towards uniting groups which had previously only identified themselves by their country of origin, many found issues with the term. Primarily many argued that the term focused on Spanish colonization as the common factor, thus excluding Brazil and including nations like the Philippines. Moreover, at the time, “Latino” was not used since bureaucrats thought it could be confused with Latin heritage, which could group Spanish-origin individuals with the German and French. Overall, the push for “Hispanic” was motivated by not just bureaucrats, but also activists looking for rights for their own communities, and media conglomerates who could benefit from creating a new audience to advertise to. 


Latino then emerged as an alternative to Hispanic, and referred to anyone of Latin American descent, ergo included Brazilians but not Spaniards. By 2000, the word appeared in the census for the first time by asking respondents “Is this person Spanish/Hispanic/Latino?”. This phrase is closest to the experience we aim to document. However, as mentioned earlier, the word proposes masculinity as the default and is not descriptive of all gender identities.


The term Pan-American denotes relating to or involving the regions of North and South America. More granularly, the word includes countries spanning from Canada to Chile, and all those in between. Generally, the term has been used for multinational or hemispheric organizations such as the Pan American Health Organization. Moreover, the term aims to unite all nations in the Americas, and is not frequently used to describe one’s individual identity. On the other hand, organizations which use this language have often been a space for the community at hand. However, we did not decide to use this term because it goes beyond the scope of our research. 


One of the first mentions of the term in print in 1911 was as a slur for “less cultured” Mexican Americans and recent immigrants. Starting in the 1960’s, people of Mexican descent living in the United States reappropriated the term and began using Chicana/o to describe themselves. More than an identity term, it was a political commitment with the community.  Our main reason for not naming our project using this terminology is because it is not truly encompassing of the history we are trying to cover– since we hope to examine experiences outside of the Mexican American community as well. 


Cohn, D’Vera. 2010. “Census History: Counting Hispanics.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. March 3, 2010. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2010/03/03/census-history-counting-hispanics-2/.

Editors of Merriam-Webster. 2017. “The Word History of Latinx.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster. August 2, 2017. https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/word-history-latinx.

G  Cristina Mora. Making Hispanics : How Activists, Bureaucrats, and Media Constructed a New American. Chicago ; London, The University Of Chicago Press, 2014.

Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “Pan-American,” accessed June 22, 2023, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Pan-American

Schmidt, Samantha. 2019. “Teens in Argentina Are Leading the Charge for a Gender-Neutral Language.” Washington Post. The Washington Post. December 5, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com./dc-md-va/2019/12/05/teens-argentina-are-leading-charge-gender-neutral-language/

Simón, Yara. 2020. “Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, Chicano: The History behind the Terms.” HISTORY. September 14, 2020. https://www.history.com/news/hispanic-latino-latinx-chicano-background

Yarin, Sophie. 2022. “If Hispanics Hate the Term ‘Latinx,’ Why Is It Still Used?” Boston University. BU Today. October 7, 2022. https://www.bu.edu/articles/2022/why-is-latinx-still-used-if-hispanics-hate-the-term/.