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Latinx, Hispanic, or Latino?

Cielo Melero | Posted on October 10, 2019

It’s been more than year since the term Latinx was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but there is still a lot of confusion and controversy surrounding its meaning and most importantly, how it differs from the terms Hispanic and Latino.

Ask any individual with Latin roots on how they identify and I am certain that they will have multiple answers related to either Latino, Hispanic, or Latinx. All of these terms are extremely relevant and important to understand, especially if you’re not sure how to use them correctly.


“Latinx” is a term that represents gender fluidity of persons from Latin American decent. It usually replaces the words Latina or Latino. Even though Latino could be all-inclusive, it is still considered masculine.

Recently, Latinx has been used to refer to all Latin Americans. It is a term that is widely embraced by the LGBTQ community, and those who are gender non-conforming. It is a progressive term that has garnered more societal inclusion but has also created controversies within the Latin community, mainly by erasing genders.


The word Hispanic could be defined as someone who descends from a Spanish speaking county, including those from Spain.

This term was first introduced by the Nixon administration in the 1970’s, as a way for Latin Americans to identify on the census. Before this, Latin Americans would Identify as white, which caused an overgeneralization of the population. The U.S census still uses “Hispanic” today, and the term could also be used as a way to identify persons on job applications.

Many individuals would consider this term controversial and an umbrella term for the Latin American population. It simplifies and erases ethnic identity from different Latin American cultures.


The highlighted portions are Latin American countries


A Latino/Latina is a person from Latin American descent. This term focuses on geography. It includes regions in North, Central, and South America but excludes individuals from Spain.


These terms are important because the Latin population can’t be generalized under one signifying term. We all have pan-ethnic identities that contribute to who we are. We choose the labels that correspond to our lived experiences. Some fit and some don’t. In many ways, these labels empower us and make us unique within a population.


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