By: Javier Villar, MOLA Board Member
This past summer, I was fortunate to attend a pre-medical conference where undergraduate students were presenting their summer research projects. While listening to one of the students, the word “Latinx” recurred in her presentation. Towards the end, I debated whether I should ask her what the word meant. Although I had some idea it related to Latin culture, I had never looked up its definition. Finally, someone in the audience raised their hand and asked, “What does Latinx mean?”
I was surprised to realize that I wasn’t the only person unfamiliar with the word.
In recent years, the term Latinx has surfaced throughout social media outlets and pop culture. While it is being used more and more frequently, many individuals have yet to discover its relevance and definition in our society. According to an article by Latino Rebels, the word can now be found in the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It is defined as following:
“Of, relating to, or marked by Latin American heritage – used as a gender alternative to Latino or Latina”.
The inclusion of this term in the dictionary marks an important milestone for gender inclusivity across various cultures in Latin America. Latinx does not only address the barrier of misrepresentation in LGBTQ communities, but also provides an opportunity for gender awareness around the world. While it is not apparent whether the word will become mainstream, it certainly has the potential to do so.
As a member of MOLA, I believe that Latinx is a stepping stone towards our mission, allowing us to work for “linguistic and cultural competency” in our communities. Merriam-Webster’s decision to include it in their dictionary proves that a linguistic revolution is taking place, hoping to fully represent the identities of all Hispanics.
As healthcare advocates, let’s encourage others to become familiar with the definition of Latinx and what it stands for.