Democrat Rep. Ruben Gallego blasts his party for using gender-neutral term Latinx

A Democratic representative has blasted members of his own party for using the term ‘Latinx’ to describe people of Latin American descent.

Ruben Gallego, a representative from Arizona, tweeted his dismay with the term on Monday, after a poll was released showing just 2 percent of Latinos recognize the term ‘Latinx’ while 40 percent feel offended by it.

‘To be clear, my office is not allowed to use “Latinx” in official communications,’ wrote Gallego, who is of Columbian and Mexican descent.

‘When Latino politicos use the term, it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use,’ he continued. ‘It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias.’ 

The term was coined by left-wing academics and activists as a gender-neutral term to include non-binary people in the Spanish-speaking community. It has since spread among the general public, but has become controversial among the Spanish speaking community, who argue it does not follow the rules of the language.

‘Look y’all,’ Gallego wrote in a subsequent tweet. ‘Hispanic, Latin American are gender neutral. So we already have gender-neutral terms to describe the Latino community. 

‘Adding an X and creating a new word comes off as performative,’ he added, saying: ‘It will not lose you an election, but if your staff and consultants use Latinx in your mass communication, it likely means they don’t understand the Latino community, and is indicative of deeper problems.’  

Ruben Gallego, a Democratic representative from Arizona, slammed members of his own party on Monday for using the term ‘Latinx’ to describe people of Latin American descent. He is pictured here speaking at a House Armed Services Committee hearing

Gallego, who is of Columbian and Mexican descent, said the term Latinx is used 'performatively' by 'white rich progressives who think this is the term we use'

Gallego, who is of Columbian and Mexican descent, said the term Latinx is used ‘performatively’ by ‘white rich progressives who think this is the term we use’

Gallego’s tweets came in response to a new poll from Bendixen and Amandi International showing that only 2 percent of the 800 Hispanic voters it polled last month refer to themselves as Latinx, while 68 percent call themselves Hispanic, and 21 percent favored Latino or Latina to describe their ethnic backgrounds.

Additionally, 40 percent said the term bothers or offends them to some degree, and 30 percent said they are less likely to support a politician or organization that uses the term.

‘The numbers suggest that using Latinx is a violation of the political Hippocratic Oath, which is to first do no electoral harm,’ pollster Fernand Amandi, whose firm advised Barack Obama’s successful outreach to Hispanic voters during his two presidential runs, told Politico.

‘Why are we using a word that is preferred by only 2 percent, but offends as many as 40 percent of those voters we want to win?’ 

Those who use the term say that the word – and the larger trend of making Spanish words gender-inclusive by ending them in an X – is not a product of the US left or white elites, but can instead be traced back to Latin America and Latinos.

They say it is also an alternative to the term Hispanic, which has been criticized for its ties to Spain, which colonized much of Latin America.

But Spanish is a gendered language, with feminine terms traditionally ending in an ‘a,’ and more masculine terms ending in an ‘o.’ When referring to a group of mixed-gender people, the language defaults to the masculine.

And some Spanish speaking members of the Latino community argue the term is difficult to pronounce in their native tongue.

Republican Virginia Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares, who is of Cuban descent and will be the first Hispanic to hold the office in the state, said the term turns off Latino voters.

‘By insisting on using the incorrect term Latinx, progressives are engaging in a type of cultural Marxism, a recast of societal norms,’ he claimed.

‘Latinos don’t use the term – only upper-educated white liberals who hardly interact with the Latino community,’ Miyares told Politico. ‘I believe that every time they use the term Latinx, they lose another Latino vote.’

In the 2020 election, Politico notes, more Latino voters elected Republican officials. 

Kristian Ramos, a Latino outreach specialist and Democratic strategist, also noted that there is a generational split between ‘young activists who very much identify as Latinx, and then you have your general population that has no idea what that word means, and finds it sort of mystifying and ridiculous.’

According to the poll, 57 percent of 18 to 29 year olds surveyed replied that the term does not bother them, as did 55 percent of those 30 to 39 and 62 percent of those 40 to 54.

Ramos said he uses the term ‘Latinx’ judiciously, mainly in communications with the young and more progressive base of the Democratic Party, ‘otherwise, it turns into this debate, and then it turns into this tedious, linguistic gymnastics.

‘Look at who actually uses “Latino:” Univision and Telemundo,’ he continued, referring to the two primary Spanish language news channels in the United States. ‘Their whole base is Spanish-speaking Latinos.

‘By and large, they avoid using Latinx,’ Ramos said. ‘I suspect that they know when they use those terms, they may lose more than 90 percent of their audience, and 40 percent of their audience could get offended.’ 

One of the founders of Univision, Joaquin Blaya, said they built the network around the concept of using the words Latino and, especially Hispanic, because it encompasses everyone of Spanish-speaking descent.

He said his objection to Latinx is that it is ‘too weird. It’s dumb. It’s foreign. It’s not Spanish.

‘Democrats are helping Republicans make them look out of touch,’ said Blaya, a registered Democrat. ‘We built a network around our Spanish language, and we have a shared culture around it.

‘Why are we trying to change this?’ he asked, rhetorically. ‘It’s offensive to a lot of people.’ 

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