Queering the Language: The Fight for Inclusivity

Inclusivity not only entails a huge impact on the holistic well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community but also in the economy. Millions of dollars worth of losses have been recorded due to LGBTQIA+ discrimination. The “religious exemption” bill caused $60 million in losses, and the “bathroom bill” incurred a whopping $630-million-loss from the state.

Because of the increasing support for the queer community, businesses are becoming more and more inclusive. With 67% of young adults agreeing that businesses should serve queer people with no conditions, becoming an LGBT-friendly establishment can definitely improve a business’ net promoter score survey.

As the times evolve, so do the language used to address this community. By simply using gender-inclusive language, members of the community will feel welcome and comfortable in the establishment.

The big ‘x’

The letter ‘x’ is diverse in its functions—whether it is in sex, symbology, or phonetics. Recently, it has made its way into the LGBTQIA+ vocabulary, championing the rise of gender-neutral language. “Latinx,” “womxn”—place an ‘x’, and it transcends the gender binary.

However, these words have been facing resistance due to their pronunciation and imperialist nature. Let’s take for example “Latinx. The first appearance of the term dates back to 2004 from the book, Latinx: A Brief Guidebook, written by Princeton University scholar, Arlene Gamio. Additionally, the letter ‘x’ has a few variations in pronunciation in Spanish: ‘x’, ‘h’, and ‘s’.

The same contention goes for womxn. Some pronounce it as ‘wo-minx’, but the pronunciation is the littlest concern of them all. ‘Womxn’ was essentially created to be inclusive of nonbinary and trans people, but the word begs a lot of questions.

If trans women are women, why do they need a gender-neutral term? Nonbinary people would much rather identify with language that is independent of the binary. Others even spot a hint of misogyny, citing the absence of ‘mxn’. After all, the placement of ‘x’ only indicated the plural-ness of the word.

Lastly, are these terms accessible to the members of LGBTQIA+ community who do not have internet or proper education? Perhaps, for them, Latinx cannot be pronounced as “La-teen-ex” or womxn as ‘wo-minx’.

Language is ever-changing

different language conceptThe fascinating thing about language is that it is constantly evolving. For instance, before ‘Latinx’, there was ‘Latin@’, a combination of ‘a’ and ‘o’ in Latino and Latina. Before ‘womxn’, there was ‘womyn’ which aspired to break free from misogynist origins of the word. One can only guess where these contemporary gender-neutral terms will lead the fight for inclusivity.

As of the moment, while people are warming up and searching for better alternatives to gender-neutral language, the better agenda is to avoid misgendering anyone. It helps to ask questions, and you can start by asking for their pronouns. If you’re unsure, they/them are commonly used. Don’t worry about grammatical errors because Merriam-Webster Dictionary considered ‘they’ as singular in 2019.

The English language also has gender-neutral words such as ‘people’ and ‘person’. In relationships, ‘significant other’ and ‘partner’ are great replacements to gender binary labels.

Don’t lose sight of Pride

The queering of language promotes inclusivity and builds identity for some members of the LGBTQIA+ community. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that Pride is not just about identity politics. The fight for equal rights and opportunities and against violence and discrimination is still very much ongoing. For now, while in the process of being inclusive, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Whatever their answer–may it be labeling themselves as ‘Latinx’ or ‘womxn’–it has to be respected.