Only 23 percent of self-identified Hispanic or Latino adults have heard the progressive neologism "Latinx," a newly released Pew Research poll reveals, while just 3 percent actually describe themselves with the word.
The term, which proponents employ as a gender-neutral variant of "Latino" and "Latina," has gained widespread currency in recent years among corporations, universities, and progressive politicians. But, Pew finds, few Latino adults themselves either use it or even recognize it.
Those most likely to do so are Latinos under 30, those with a college degree, and self-identified Democrats. Least likely are foreign-born Latinos and those who speak primarily Spanish. The overwhelming majority of all respondents think terms like "Hispanic" or "Latino" are more appropriate.
The word was adopted by high-powered Democrats in the 2020 election cycle, including vice-presidential hopefuls Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D., Calif.). That the term is little known except by the young and well-educated suggests that such language choices reflect more the priorities of progressives' young, ideologically motivated base than of Hispanic Americans writ large.
To reach this finding, Pew's research team surveyed some 3,030 self-identified Hispanic adults in December 2019. Over three-quarters had not heard the term "Latinx" prior to the survey. Those most likely to have heard it were 18- to 29-year-olds (42 percent), those with a college degree or more (38 percent), and Democrats (29 percent). Those groups were similarly most likely to self-identify as Latinx, including 7 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds.
This low rate of self-identification with the term may reflect the low frequency of gender nonconformity in the population as a whole—transgender people, of whom gender nonconforming people are sometimes identified as a subset, represent less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. population. But it may also reflect the unpopularity of a term which imposes English notions of genderlessness on a language in which nouns are intrinsically gendered, as is suggested by the finding that English-dominant and bilingual respondents are four times as likely to have heard the term as Spanish-dominant respondents.
Among the quarter of respondents who had heard the term "Latinx," one-third told Pew they thought it should be used to describe the Hispanic population as a whole, while two-thirds opposed. In general, respondents favored the terms "Hispanic" (61 percent) and "Latino" (29 percent) to describe the population; Latinx (4 percent) loses out to even "something else" (5 percent).
Pew's findings confirm other polls which have reliably indicated that "Latinx" is neither widely used nor liked among Hispanic Americans. A 2019 poll from a "progressive polling firm" found that just 2 percent of respondents used "Latinx" to describe themselves, while just 1 percent of Hispanic Democratic voters in Florida preferred the term.
The apparent unpopularity of "Latinx" has done little to stymie its embrace by progressive America. Pew noted that it has been adopted at Microsoft, NPR, and UC Davis, and by the City of Chicago. Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary has acknowledged the term.
It's also gained widespread use among progressive politicians. Harris used "Latino" throughout her political career, the Washington Free Beacon previously reported, before pivoting to "Latinx" in advance of her 2020 presidential run. Warren also made extensive use of the term in her campaign, even selling a "Latinx with Warren" T-shirt on her official website. The term is notably absent from eventual primary victor Joe Biden's Latino issues platform.