What the X means to me

XThis post is about my native tongue, Spanish, which is a strongly binary language.

Each object, living creature and person must be preceded by an article matching its gender: “el” for masculine and “la” for feminine (plural forms: “los” and “las”).

All of them are translated into English simply as “the”.

When faced to this constant pressure from language, the X becomes my sword and shield.

I choose to use the letter X as a replacement for vowels in gendered articles: “los” and “las” become “lxs” instead.

This also works for nouns and adjectives, which in Spanish are also gendered as signaled by their final vowel.

Again, O goes for masculine and A for feminine: “niño” (boy), “linda” (nice). They all can be neutralized into niñx, lindx, and so on.

It is also interesting that Spanish alphabetical order dictates A goes always before O, except when the O is used to denote masculinity. Look up any entry in a Spanish dictionary: you’ll always find the feminine ending in A after the masculine ending in O.

So I guess it’s not that hard to understand what I’m standing up to.

XThere are a few options other than X to tackle gender binary in Spanish.

Some people just go ahead and mention both genders, as in “todos y todas” (all males and all females).

Others use @ to symbolize a letter A inside an O, as in “tod@s”.

I don’t particularly like these two options because they are still binary. They do not question what else exists beyond male and female (although I cheer them going mainstream -it’s a start).

Another possibility, mostly used in LGBT groups, is changing A and O into a letter E. So, instead of saying “todos y todas” one could say: “todes”.

Easier to read and to pronounce, the E blends into the language smoothly, which is why I prefer the X.

Reading a word with an X instead of a vowel gives an uncomfortable feeling, some sense of bewilderment, which is in fact what I feel when I’m faced with the gender binary.

The disadvantage of using E is that you can get easily accustomed to it, until you nearly don’t notice it anymore.

Instead, the X is noisy, rude and defying. It doesn’t stand against gender binary alone, but also challenges the language rules on vowels and consonants.

I like to write an X and then be able to pronounce it as an A, O, E or anything I feel like.


The X thus became my lucky letter, my charm against those definitions I’m no longer willing to accept.

The X became my denounce against using language to exclude people or make them invisible.

The X signals the potential to be feminine, masculine, a combination of both, or neither of them, and the possibility to create new options.

To me, the X is not only a language tool I use, but an identity I build for myself, creating my own rules, choosing my own path.

Welcome to the dark and twisted maze of the X identity.

Read this post in Spanish


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