Trans-Affirming Guide to Latinx Heritage Month

Happy Latinx Heritage Month from Team TransLash! We’ve compiled some resources for our Latinx(e/o) siblings, as well as recommendations for allies. But before we get into all the trans-affirming Latinx resources we’ve curated, let’s take a moment to learn about the history and evolution of this nuanced holiday.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

According to the US government’s official website for National Hispanic Heritage Month, the holiday started off as a week in 1968, under the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, only to be expanded to a month (September 15th – October 15th) in 1988, when it was also enacted into law. Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th because the date falls on (and is close to) many days of significance: 

  • September 15th: Anniversary of Independence for Latin American Countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua
  • September 16th: Mexican Independence Day
  • September 18th: Chilean Independence Day

Where did the term Hispanic come from? You can thank the US Census, the agency responsible for collection and production of data about America’s people and economy. In 1970, the estimated population of “Hispanics” was added to the census, with the question “Is this person’s origin or descent—“ and the response categories were: “Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, Other Spanish,” and “No, none of these,” according to the Pew Research Center

It wasn’t until 1980 that the question transformed into “Is this person of Spanish/Hispanic origin or descent?” With possible responses being: “No (not Spanish/Hispanic); Yes, Mexican, Mexican-Amer., Chicano; Yes, Puerto Rican; Yes, Cuban; Yes, other Spanish/Hispanic.”

The term Hispanic means “relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, especially those of Central and South America” and as “relating to Spanish-speaking people or their culture, especially in the U.S.” per the Oxford Dictionary, which can be problematic, given the term can’t apply to everyone. “Hispanic” doesn’t leave much room for inclusivity for people who aren’t of those areas, such as Afro-Latinx people who often have heritage from multiple countries — or even people who don’t feel close to the traditions aligned with the culture of their race, or don’t speak the language. 

Why we say Latinx Heritage Month and not Hispanic Heritage Month

Terms such as Hispanic and Latino(a) can be lacking in nuanced conversations at the intersection of race, gender, and culture. Spanish is a grammatically gendered language, so it’s not surprising that more gender-expansive people are using the term “Latinx” as a gender neutral option (though only one-in-four — less than 3% — of Latinx adults, according to the Pew Research Center). Those using the term tended to be younger, US-born, and either bilingual or “predominantly English-Speaking and Democratic-leaning,” as well as more likely to have attended college. 

Whether you say Hispanic Heritage Month, Latine Heritage Month, or Latinx Heritage Month, we hope you’ll check out these trans-affirming resources below, and share with your friends!

TGNC Latinx & Afro-Latinx Leaders and Organizations to Follow

  • Bamby Salcedo is the President of the Trans Latin@ Coalition, as well as an advocate, motivational speaker & presenter, and community organizer.
  • Cecilia Gentili is an advocate, organizer, and storyteller working at the intersections of sex work, immigrant rights, incarceration issues, and trans liberation. She was recently in an episode of The Anti-Trans Hate Machine, ‘Transphobia In A Suit,’ and was also recently spotlighted by Trans Equity Consulting as their Founder.
  • Gabriel Josue, Puerto Rican Model, was crowned Androgynous Model in 2019 in PR, and has supported protests there. They now have a YouTube channel, and regularly post on social media.
  • Lady Dane is a multi-talented African Cuban Indigenous TransWoman who acts and dances, writes books and poems, and uses her work to advocate for the acknowledgment, love, and respect of Black trans women.
  • Shane Ortega is a trans-masculine Army veteran, he advocates for the estimated 15,000 transgender people in the military.
  • Yosimar Reyes is a two-spirit poet who has won several slam competitions, been featured in documentaries, and has published beautiful works.
  • Entre Hermanos is a Seattle, WA based organization helping the LGBTQ+ Latinx community through immigration services, HIV prevention, advocacy, civic engagement, and more.
  • Latino Pride Alliance in Phoenix, Arizona, is a volunteer-led organization educating and engaging the Latina/o lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, with a focus on Spanish language families. They educate and address issues of family acceptance, bullying, homophobia, xenophobia, family separation, violence against youth, homelessness, high health risk behaviors and HIV/AIDs.
  • The Latino Equality Alliance is a Los Angeles based organization with a mission to advocate for equity, safety, and wellness for the Latinx Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer + community. They do so through College Access and Success Support programs, community outreach, the Anti-Bullying School Climate Public Education Initiative, and more.
  • Somos Familia builds leadership in their Latinx families and communities of the San Francisco Bay Area to create a culture where people of diverse genders and sexual orientations can thrive. They do so through bilingual (Spanish/English) education, family acceptance films, and advocacy.
  • The Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgriediendo is a Jackson Heights, NY organization that provides ‘Sex Work 101’ trainings promoting leadership, gender advocacy, sexual health awareness and more, as well as hosting the Legal AID Network Project, the Free Closet community program, and more.
  • The Trans Latinx Network is a non-profit organization in New York City that provides for the trans community through immigration services, HIV/AIDS prevention, weekly groups, and advocacy.
  • The Trans Latin@ Coalition in Los Angeles, CA, provides support through The Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness with programs like HR Trainings, Advocacy and Policy Change, Violence Prevention Program, and more.

Why Latinx can still be a Problematic Term

“Latinx” is a term accepted by some, but not all; there are people out there who have heard the term and — much like with the word “Hispanic” — feel that “Latinx” isn’t something they identify with, which is a valid response.

“Latinx” is an English neologism, not a Spanish one (the term is said while pronouncing the “x” in English, as [la] [tee] [nˈɛks]). The term “Latine”, using an E at the end, can be pronounced in both English and Spanish, and doesn’t require the English language in order to be valid. “Latine Heritage Month” is an inclusive option for some folks.

María R. Scharrón-del Río, a psychologist and an associate dean of education at Brooklyn College, co-wrote Latinx: Inclusive Language As Liberation Praxis. Scharrón-del Río identifies herself as queer. “Language is an intervention tool, said Scharrón-del Río to NPR, “it saves lives.” They said that using the right pronouns and the right names has a positive impact on people. Scharrón-del Río explained that Latinx often “creates discomfort” in some settings, because it is a term that reclaims the history of LGBTQIA Latinx people who have been overlooked and neglected.

Some view Latinx as a term that still erases Afro-Latino/a people, which is valid within the context of ongoing anti-Blackness in Latino/a/e communities.

In 2020, the Association of Latina/o & Latinx Anthropologists (ALLA) released a statement condemning anti-Black violence and calling for “an intimate reckoning with anti-Blackness and white supremacy that pervades our communities. Such actions necessitate going beyond words of solidarity, like the phrase ‘Latinos for Black Lives,’ which reinforce a commonsense of whiteness implicit in colonial projects. If we are to reject anti-Black racism, then we must take seriously Lorgia García Peña’s (2020) insistence that we acknowledge ‘the failure of the label ‘Latino/a/x’ to name our Blackness.’

Not all Latinx people are the same, so we should honor the words people use to describe themselves: be it Boricua, Mestizo, or any other term to describe your own lived experience and identity. Part of what makes our world so beautiful is the expansive variety of experiences in it, and as a community by and for trans/non-binary/two-spirit/intersex people, we strive to affirm & hold space for all TGNC Afro-Latinx, Latino/a/e, Latinx, and Hispanic voices.

Dig into more resources below!

Latinx Personal Essays, Research, and Videos

More Latinx Organizations and other Resources

  • Call Me Latine is a resource dedicated to addressing gender and heteronormative bias in Hispanic and Latino Culture, in order to help queer and non-binary Latines to define themselves.
  • Lambda Legal is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
  • Mijente is a political home for Latinx and Chicanx people who seek racial, economic, gender and climate justice, doing so through campaigns, which connect people across a wide network and serve as a hub for culture, learning and advocacy.
  • Trans Equity Consulting is a team of amazing people that offer workshops and trainings on subjects including LGBTQ competency, policy, transgender care, and sex worker issues, as well as organizational development and Campaign Strategy, and more.
  • Trans Lifeline now has a Spanish 24/7 crisis hotline, fully staffed with TGNC operators.

Submit any useful trans/non-binary/intersex/two-spirit Hispanic Heritage Month resource links that we may have missed here.

[Image Description: A green background holds fliers, and a centered group of people of various skin-tones and abilities, with the text, “#LatinxHeritageMonth Celebrating our TGNC Latinx & Afro-Latinx Siblings]

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✨Meet one of our guests in the latest episode of The #TransLash Podcast with @imarajones, Joela Rivera ✨

Read her bio on our IG, & listen ... to 'Latinx Heritage Month':➡️ https://open.spotify.com/episode/6Elcfpm60KVqrewt1IRokN?si=_0wIfST1Qq6GiiilrWJNhw

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