Apr 11, 2024 - World

Latine is the new Latinx

Illustration of the letter "E" peeking from behind the letter "X" in "LATINX".

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

"Latine," a gender-neutral way to describe or refer to people with Latino origins, is surging in popularity on university campuses, in museums, and among researchers and media.

The big picture: Catch-all terms like Hispanic or Latino have come under scrutiny for blurring important nuances and presenting a large part of the U.S. population as a monolith.

  • Latine is "part of a movement centered on wanting to build and foster an inclusive community," says Carlos Zavala, vice president at consulting firm Whiteboard Advisors, which has used the term in reports from its work with tech and education groups.
  • 41% of U.S. Latinos in the latest Axios-Ipsos Latino poll in partnership with Noticias Telemundo say they are comfortable with Latine.

Flashback: The increased use of Latine comes as Latinx has been phased out by some organizations or banned by officials.

  • Latinx had been pushed by U.S. academics as a gender-neutral option for Latinos but was criticized for using the letter "x" in a manner that's unnatural to Spanish speakers.

Context: Spanish words generally have a fixed grammatical gender, making them either masculine (el gato) or feminine (la silla). Many plural nouns also use the masculine form as a default (los niños). The same rules apply in Portuguese.

  • To better accommodate diverse gender identities, some Spanish and Portuguese speakers are increasingly using the -e suffix for some nouns, such as using "todes" in addition to "todos," both of which mean "everyone."
  • Even some government offices in Latin America have adopted using the -e suffix as part of a wider movement for inclusive language.
  • Using Latine (sounds like "la-TEEN-eh") in the U.S. "makes sense as an internationally used way of speaking and writing in a less gendered manner," says Monica Trasandes, director for Spanish language media and representation at GLAAD.

By the numbers: Younger people are even more positive about Latine, with 43% of respondents ages 18-29 saying they're comfortable with using it, compared to just 33% of those 65 and older.

  • Yes, but: Latino/a and Hispanic are still the preferred terms for respondents, with over 80% acceptance, followed by a descriptor tied to a country of origin (such as Cuban American or Mexican American), the poll shows.
  • More than half of those polled from states along the U.S.-Mexico border or in the Midwest said the term Latine makes them uncomfortable, and more than 60% of respondents aged 65 and older said the same.
  • There's also pushback in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, with people arguing the term is unnecessary or that it distorts grammar rules.

What they're saying: Adopting new terminology can be challenging, "but language is meant to be our tool, to change or evolve as we develop different ways of thinking about things," Trasandes says.

  • For example, she says, some people initially rejected replacing "fireman" and "stewardess" with "firefighter" and "flight attendant," which are commonly used now.
  • Zavala adds that while people in the U.S. are barely adopting Latine, its greater acceptance among younger generations could result in it eventually becoming commonplace.

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