No, it’s not a typo—we intentionally use the term 'Filipinx' over other terms like Filipino or Filipin@. We do so because it aligns with FIERCE's values of empowerment and community. Read on to understand what the 'x' means and why we use it.
To understand why we use the ‘x,’ we have to understand a concept called gender inclusivity. Inclusivity means being open to everyone, especially those who might traditionally be left out or looked down upon. Gender inclusivity, then, means being open and accepting of people of all genders.
We say all genders because we acknowledge that there are more than two genders. We’re raised to believe that the only two genders are male and female, and that these are assigned at birth. This idea is called the gender binary.
However, some people find that they don’t fit into these two strict categories, and they may choose to instead identify as gender non-binary, or genderqueer. Others who identify as genderfluid may change their gender over time. Some people find that they don't belong to any gender and may identify as agender.
In summary, we acknowledge that gender is a non-binary spectrum: it isn’t limited to two genders, and it encompasses a wide range of identities that are just as valid and real as male and female. We also acknowledge that identity is self-assigned—it is determined by oneself, and it can change over time.
Filipino, Filipinx, Filipin@
With that said, why do we use the term ‘Filipinx’?
The term ‘Filipino’ is masculine because it ends with -o; its feminine counterpart is ‘Filipina,' which ends with -a. These gendered terms were brought about by Spanish colonization.
Although unintended, the use of the term ‘Filipino’ can be harmful to genderqueer-identified people because it assumes that there are only two genders. Using the term ‘Filipino’ also uses a masculine term to encompass a diverse array of gender identities who may be excluded and overlooked.
Therefore, some people in the US prefer the term Filipinx, replacing the final letter (which traditionally determines gender) with an ‘x.’ The ‘x’ is meant to include people of all genders—male, female, gender non-binary/genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, and all other identities that are traditionally excluded.
Some people use another term, Filipin@, which combines the terms Filipino and Filipina. However, we believe that this term is not as inclusive because it only represents males and females—it reaffirms the gender binary.
So, in our efforts to empower all young Filipinx Americans, FIERCE uses the gender-inclusive term ‘Filipinx.’ We also strive to replace other gendered terms with gender-inclusive ones—for example, using “y’all” instead of “you guys.” We believe that it’s important to make sure all members of our community feel equally included and represented, and we strive to build a safe and comfortable learning environment for a diverse range of students. That is, after all, the essence of FIERCE.
It may seem trivial; after all, it’s just one letter. But oppression and exclusion are embedded in our everyday language, and by changing our everyday language—even something as simple as changing an ‘o’ to an ‘x’—is an active step in reversing years of marginalization.
(Final note: Your identity is your identity. Whether you identify with the term Filipino, Filipina, Filipinx, or other another term, you have the power to choose what you call yourself. We simply use the term Filipinx to refer to the Filipinx American community at large to be inclusive of as many people at possible—but that doesn’t stop you from calling yourself Filipino or Filipina!)