“Filipinx” is now officially a word. The English online resource platform Dictionary.com has recently included it among its new entries.
The term, pronounced filipineks or filipinks, is a gender-neutral noun or adjective pertaining to natives or inhabitants of the Philippines. Filipinx is to be used in place of the masculine form Filipino or the feminine form Filipina, with the character x used in the sense of an “unknown quantity or variable.”
Another related term added to the dictionary is Pinxy (pronounced pink-see), which is used in place of Pinoy or Pinay.
Dictionary.com notes that the character x had been used to replace the gendered inflections o and a, the forward slash -o/a spelling, and the variant ending -@, which was first adopted by Latin Americans, especially those living in the United States. Latinx is “used in place of the masculine form Latino, the feminine form Latina, or the gender-binary form Latin@” and was first recorded between 2010-2015.
While some of us may have only encountered the term recently when it trended on social media, many Filipinos overseas have actually been using the term for many years now. There had been online discussions as well delving on the appropriateness or the need for such a term.
In a series of tweets in 2019 by Kevin Nadal, PhD., founder of LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network—a group that provides support to professors, researchers, and students who identify as LGBTQ—he noted the intricacies of using the term Filipinx.
He mentioned the pros: “It is an acknowledgment of looking beyond the gender binary” and “it moves beyond the tradition of centering masculine/male identities.” For these reasons, some say the term is a sign of decolonization.
Nadal noted though that Filipino people in the Philippines don’t seem to be using the term as much—because Filipinx actually sounds like it’s referring to Filipinx American. Filipinx is generational, he adds, as “younger people use it way more than older people, and that older people may even dislike the term.”
The debate is intense online. A comment on Reddit points out that “Filipino” is already a gender neutral word. “Gendering words is very Western. We don’t need to westernize it and attempt to make it gender neutral.”
Of course, there will be those with opposing opinion. @comradecloset argues that “as long as transphobia and homophobia exist in Filipino culture, the word Filipino can never be gender neutral. It’s only another example of the erasure, exclusion, and silencing of non-binary and trans Filipinx/Filipine people, especially in diaspora.”
Meanwhile, our language experts have acknowledged the need for any language to be dynamic. Mykel Andrada, director of Sentro ng Wikang Filipino at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, pointed out, "Magandang hakbang na nagkakaroon tayo ng recognition at ng consciousness-raising hinggil sa mga gender neutral na mga words," he said in an interview with TV Patrol. "Tatandaan natin palagi na 'yong wika, dinamiko 'yan. Kapag sinabi natin na dynamic, it is always in a constant change, lagi 'yan nagbabago.”
Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino Commissioner Arthur Casanova likewise agreed. “Binago lamang 'yong 'o' para sa male at 'a' para sa female at ginawang 'x' para wala nang dibisyon sa pagitan ng babae o lalaki. Okay lang po iyan dahil maaaring iyan ay identidad ng isang pangkat o maaaring umiiwas sila sa diskriminasyon."
Of course, the word will only thrive if people use it often enough.