Latinx and right-wing critiques

In a recent round of tweet media, conservative Latino writer Giancarlo Sopo cites a new poll that found that only 2% of those surveyed preferred Latinx as a marker of ethnicity, countering that “it is unclear what led progressive activists to believe “Latinx” is necessary”.

Here are a few problems with that argument and the poll.

  • First of all, Latinx is not simply an ethnic marker. Asking people to use Latinx as one obscures the inextricable connection between ethnicity and gender and privileges the former over the latter. If the question were: what term best applies to your gender, my bet is that the results would have been different.
  • The argument that Latinx is elitist is tired and rote. It is certainly more prominent among people with an eye for intersectional activism. Does that make it elitist, though? I’d counter that no, it does not, but rather calls on Latino activism to take seriously the heterosexism that has characterized it throughout history.
  • The poll used a 508-person sample “demographically representative of Census figures,” and yet, the census has never been able to accurately quantify the diverse, heterogeneous population of Latin American descent in the US. This is because it is using US racial and ethnic terms to describe a population that does not easily map onto those terms because of the unique history of colonization, racial mixing, and racial politics in Latin America.
  • The fact that the most commonly used umbrella term for this population has shifted from “of Spanish surname” to “Hispanic” to “Latino” is not only indicative of the inadequacy of such an umbrella term, but also the mutability of people’s understanding of themselves based on available language.
  • Now, why then, does the argument that Latinx is an imposition not fall under the same scrutiny as Hispanic or Latino, both of which are English terms used in the US? Why does this variation of ethno-gendered identification cause so much (homosexual) panic? Precisely because it foregrounds gender as mutable.
  • Latinx is not a substitute for Latino/a but instead an addition to the terminology we have to include a group that was not before included (such as queer and non-binary people). The uproar among conservatives did not come when the term was used almost exclusively by queer and non-binary people, but when it started to be applied to “all” people of Latin American descent. These people do not want to be called a term, “Latinx” that does not apply to them. The irony is that that is exactly why Latinx people want to use the term that they feel most represents them, rather than one that doesn’t.
  • A side note regarding the argument that Latinx is foreign to Spanish and was concocted by Anglos. This is specious and not born out by numerous testimonies. What is more, people in Latin America also use the x in Latinx or, more commonly, an “e” as in Latines, elles, les amigues, to neutralize gender. What does the author have to say about that?
  • Now to the more insidious argument that because some trans people prefer Latino or Latina, Latinx is inappropriate. It is absolutely true that some (even many) trans people choose to identify according to a gender binary. This does not, however, mean that the x in Latinx should be applied to them, without their consent, as the author implies is happening. Nor does it mean that conservative politics are somehow now aligned with trans people. Quite the contrary, as the skittishness around gender transition, change, and nonconformity attests.
  • At the end of the day, the argument against Latinx is an argument in favor of the retrenchment of gendered, sexual, and racial norms that are based on exploiting women in the domestic economy, limiting the ability of queer and non-binary people to express themselves as themselves.

Argentine Intimacies is out!!!

I’m so happy. I can’t even describe it. My book is now a physical object. It smells like glue and the pages have texture. The cover is hard and white and gold. In the future, people will put their coffee cups on it and then realize that it is now stained. I love that image. The idea of the book being part of someone’s home and someone’s life. The intimacy extends beyond me, and out, there, to you.

Here is the moment I held the book in my hands for the first time.


There are a couple ways you can get it into your (or other people’s) hands.

You can order through the SUNY Press at this link (or on Amazon…but you know, try to order through the press). There is also an option to request an examination copy on the SUNY press website:

It should be making its way into library collections soon, but if your library doesn’t have it, you can request that they purchase it. Its super simple. Just ask them.

For those of you who really want the book, but don’t want to shell out that much cash, have no fear, the press will be coming out with an affordable paperback edition in approximately 9 months. Mark your calendars for August 2020 or so.

All I can really say is thank you. This has been such an amazing and crazy journey. I have been with this book for a long long time, and now needs to be with others. That’s the hope at least.

If you want to discuss it with me, or if you want me to come out to your book club, quilting club, seminar, or other academic or cultural function, I would be happy to. Just get in touch.

Kinship as Critical Method

I’ll be speaking at Tufts University on Friday, October 11 as part of an amazing lineup of folks. The symposium is part of a Mellon Seminar organized by Sarah Pinto and Kendra Field. I’m really honored by the invitation and will be sharing part of my forthcoming book, Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890-1910 (its coming out November 1!!!!!!). Several people have asked me to share this work, so here is the talk. Please don’t cite the talk as such. The book is coming out so so soon!

The talk: A Terrible Inheritance: Queer Kinship and Diary Writing in Argentina’s Age of Splendor 1890-1910

mellon sawyer seminar _defamiliarizing the family_(4).jpg

Op-Ed on Elizabeth Warren at Protean Mag

I live-tweeted the recent Native American Presidential Forum, and after receiving numerous press inquiries–including for this piece in the Times–I decided to put some of my thoughts together in a more cohesive and personal way. Here is an op-ed on Warren’s almost-apology that Protean Mag published.

The title that I wanted to go with, actually, was “Apology Not Accepted”. But I’m glad we went with something more descriptive. For more information on Warren’s race-shifting and false claims to Cherokee heritage, see the syllabus I worked on with Cherokee activist/writers Rebecca Nagle and Adrienne Keane, published by Critical Ethnic Studies.

From the op-ed:

Warren vaguely admitted wrongdoing. But she did not say what she did or why, quickly pivoting to her strong suit, public policy. This is a good strategy for courting people who wanted to hear her admit something. However, it doesn’t address the central issue at stake—Cherokee sovereignty.

And later:

Despite having put forward a broad structural plan for honoring trust and treaty obligations, she has yet to understand how she is situated within the structures of white supremacy from which she has benefited—and yet to demonstrate that she can be trusted. Trust comes with daring to put the ethical obligations of mutual respect before politics. This is what being in good relations means. As a Cherokee, that is what matters to me. I cannot help but ask if Elizabeth Warren is actually demonstrating that she is in good relations with us.



Interview on Hyperallergic

I had a great time over at Hyperallergic being interviewed about queerness, decolonial practices, art, and ongoing struggles for liberation. We discussed the history of Wall Street as a border wall, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, the Argentine Homosexual Liberation Front, and the GLQ special issue that I am editing with several amazing colleagues on the Cuir Américas. Check it out here:

Joseph Pierce on Why Academics Must Decolonize Queerness


Vengo a hablar de política (Revista Anfibia)

I have an essay out in Revista Anfibia (in Spanish) about Claudia Rodríguez, her visit to NYC and Stony Brook University, and the affective fields at play in travesti politics across contexts.

You can read it here.

Here’s the opening:

– ¿De qué tienen que hablar las travestis?

Claudia Rodríguez deja caer la frase con cierta ambivalencia. Sostiene un cuaderno en la mano sin mirarlo. Uñas anaranjadas, voz honda, coqueta, así se presenta ante un público integrado por alumnxs de literatura latinoamericana, estudios de género y sexualidad, profesorxs universitarios y activistas LGBT que se acercaron a escucharla. Hoy no está en Santiago de Chile, donde vive, sino Estados Unidos, en una universidad pública de Nueva York.


Claudia with “el poto” of the Wall Street Bull (photo: Joseph Pierce)