Latinos hesitate to use gender-neutral term for ethnicity, study says

Written by on December 13, 2021

Latinos hesitate to use gender-neutral term for ethnicity, study says

By Anthony Orozco

December 13, 2021

Members of the Lehigh Valley’s LatinX community host a block party as part of last summer’s “Festival Unbound” sponsored by Touchstone Theatre. (Contributed photo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A new nationwide study examines what Latinos prefer to be called and why some labels make many in the community uncomfortable.

Some civic groups in the commonwealth are using relatively new and unpopular terms to promote inclusivity. 

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Only 2% of people of Latin American heritage say the term “LatinX” best describes their ethnicity, according to the study by the public opinion firm Bendixen and Amandi International.

The relatively new term is a gender neutral version of the more widely accepted “Latino” for men or “Latina” for women. 

Valentina Rosario, the Trans Equity project coordinator at Galaei, a social justice organization in Philadelphia, said the terms LatinX and “Latine” are meant to be include trans and nonbinary people.

“Nobody is trying to change anybody’s ideology. Nor are people trying to change what people feel comfortable with,” Rosario said. 

Diana Robinson, civic engagement director at Make the Road Pennsylvania, described herself as “LatinX.” 

The term is meant to include people who are gender nonconforming or trans, she said. It’s not meant to work as a litmus test for sensitivity.

“We should use terms that are inclusive and make everyone feel welcome. But also, it’s not saying that we are telling people that this is the only term that they can use, right. But for us it is important, because we feel that it’s inclusive of all the members of our community,” Robinson said.  

The study of 800 Latino voters shows nearly 70% say “Hispanic” best describes their ethnicity, while 21% go with Latino or Latina 

Nearly 60% say the term LatinX does not bother them, with 40% saying it did.

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