Why people are split on using 'Latinx'

A protester holds a sign that reads, "LATiNXS FOR BLACK LiVES MATTER" in New York on June 2.

(CNN)Depending on which corners of the internet you inhabit, you might have come across the term "Latinx."

"Latinx" has emerged as an inclusive term to refer to people of Latin American descent, encompassing those who don't identify as male or female or who don't want to be identified by their gender. It's been used by journalists, politicians, corporations, colleges and universities. In 2018, it even made it to the dictionary.
But among the people "Latinx" is intended to describe, few have heard of the term -- let alone use it.
    In a new survey, researchers found that only about one in four adults in the US who identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard the term "Latinx," while just 3% say they use it to describe themselves.
    The findings, published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, signal just how complex identity is for people categorized as Hispanic or Latino.
    "This reflects the diversity of the nation's Hispanic population, and the Hispanic population of the US thinks of itself in many different ways," Mark Lopez, director of global migration and demography research at Pew Research Center, told CNN. "'Latinx' is just one of those many dimensions."

    'Latinx' is more common among younger Hispanics

    In the US, the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" are often used to refer to people of Spanish-speaking or Latin American origin.
    Though they're often used interchangeably, "Hispanic" refers only to people from Spanish-speaking countries, which includes Latin America and Spain. "Latino" refers to people with roots in Latin America, which includes Portuguese-speaking Brazilians, but excludes Spain.
    Those two terms describe a very broad group of people, and don't always align with the ways that those populations identify themselves.
    Previous Pew research has shown that Hispanic adults most often identify by their country of origin, using terms such as Mexican, Cuban or Salvadoran as opposed to pan-ethnic labels like "Hispanic" or "Latino."
    "Latinx" is another term that has emerged in recent years. It's largely seen by those who use it as an inclusive term that incorporates those who fall outside the male/female gender binary.
    The Pew survey sampled more than 3,000 Hispanic adults in the US in December 2019 on their awareness and use of the term "Latinx."
    Those who used the term tended to be younger, US-born, bilingual or predominately English-speaking and Democratic-leaning, the survey found. They were also more likely to have gone to college.

    Most preferred the terms 'Hispanic' or 'Latino'

    Searches for the term "Latinx" saw a significant spike in June 2016, according to Google Trends -- the same month as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
    Since then, the term has grown in popularity online, though search interest in "Latino," "Latina" and "Hispanic" over the last decade remains much higher, the Pew researchers noted. But though online interest in "Latinx" has risen, people of Latin American descent largely haven't embraced the term.