United States House of Representatives
Republican members of the House of Representatives applaud as former US House speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks before a third vote to elect a new speaker on October 20, 2023 ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP

On late Wednesday night, a group of Republican representatives voted to pass a proposal that would ban the usage of the terms Latinx and Latin-x in federal paperwork. Seven House Democrats also voted in favor of the proposal, including four members from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

According to Fox News, the bill passed with 222 votes in favor and 198 against. The proposal was introduced by Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, a Republican House Representative from Florida. She offered the proposal as an amendment to an appropriation bill that dictates spending for the Treasury, White House and judiciary departments.

The proposal is similar to a measure introduced in the Senate by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Titled Respect for Hispanic Americans Act, it also aims to ban the use of Latinx from official government documents.

Senator Cruz and Senator Rubio's bill was introduced in July, but has not yet been brought up for a vote on the Senate floor.

The term Latinx is a gender-inclusive alternative to Latino and Hispanic that first gained popularity in the early 2000s. According to the History Channel, the word, or at least the use of the X instead of the vowel originated from Latin American protesters who opposed the grammatical gender rules of the Spanish language. Grammatical gender rules in Spanish change the way nouns are spelled and pronounced depending on whether the context of the sentence is masculine or feminine.

In 2013, the term was used in a Puerto Rican academic journal and became popular among other Hispanic students in Puerto Rico and the U.S.

Gender grammar rules is a hot button issue among many, including many in the non-binary community who say that they don't want to be labeled a particular gender based on their appearance.

According to a 2021 Gallup poll, only 4% of U.S. Hispanics use the term Latinx. A separate study found that 20% of the people surveyed have heard of the term. The people who use the term tend to be between the ages of 18 and 29 and are college-educated, according to the poll.

An opinion piece from 2021 published in NBC said that critics of the term Latinx state that the word comes off as pretentious and is offensive to their Heritage. Many also claim that the Latinx sounds unnatural when speaking, which has given rise to the term Latine as gender neutral alternative.

According to Gallop, 23% of Hispanic Americans prefer to use the term Hispanic, and another 15% prefer Latino.

Despite the mixed emotions attached to the term Latinx, the majority of Hispanic Americans (57%) say it doesn't matter what term is used to describe them.

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