Story at a glance
- Only 23 percent of U.S. adults who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard of the word Latinx.
- Just 3 percent use it to describe themselves.
- College graduates and those who identify or lean towards the Democratic party are also more likely to be familiar with the word.
The term “Latinx” has been increasingly used by mainstream media, universities, corporations and lawmakers as a gender-neutral alternative to refer to people of Latin American heritage.
The word emerged online and in academia in the early 2000s in an attempt to refer to Latinos who don’t identify as male or female, or who simply don’t want to be identified by gender at all.
The growing use of the word aligns with a broader movement to introduce gender-neutral nouns and pronouns into gendered languages and was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2018.
But new research shows the term may not exactly be catching on among the people Latinx is intended to describe.
A bilingual survey from the Pew Research Center released Tuesday found that only 23 percent of U.S. adults who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard of the word Latinx, while just 3 percent say they use it to describe themselves.
Pew surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. Hispanic adults in December 2019.
Hispanics ages 18 to 29 are the most likely age group to have heard of Latinx, with 42 percent saying they were aware of the word, compared with 7 percent of Hispanics ages 65 or older.
College graduates and those who identify or lean towards the Democratic party are also more likely to be familiar with the word.
Among Hispanic women, 14 percent say they use it, compared with just 1 percent of young Latino men who said they do.
The survey found that 33 percent of Hispanics who had heard of Latinx said it should be used to describe the Hispanic or Latino population, while 65 percent said it should not be used. More than 60 percent of people said they still prefer to self-identify as Hispanic, followed by 29 percent who said Latino or their country of origin.
“The Latino public at large may not be following the discussions over Latinx as much as certain groups,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, director of global migration and demographic research at the Pew Research Center and one of the report’s authors said, according to NBC News.
Pew found during interviews with respondents that some people viewed the term as an “anglicism’ of the Spanish language or “not representative of the larger Latino community.”