Q: Alex, your recent share from Laverne Cox included the phrase “trans folx.” Is this a thing?
A: Good question! It is a thing. I’ve exclusively seen it from queer and trans people, usually people of color.
In 2014, Trans Folx Fighting Eating Disorders explained: “Folx might be a more regional California term, but we use it to indicate Q/T/gender-diverse community and to denote a politicized identity.”
So it’s basically a coded way of saying “folks like us”—that is, a within-community expression used by people who are radically non-conforming in terms of gender and/or sexuality and for whom their identities are deeply, radically political.
In May 2017, Reddit user truetrans offered this additional helpful take:
Similar to how people are using Latinx instead of Latina/Latino in queer, trans, [and] LGBTQ+ politics around that identity, people organizing and theorizing in queer, trans, and other people of color spaces use Folx instead of folks. The X is to designate gender nonconformity, gender neutrality, and/or gender nonbinary sentiments. It is a way to replace folks with a word that invokes mental imagery and association with queer/trans people.
The thought is that when we simply say “folks” people think of “men and women, gender conforming people.” When these communities use the word “folx” it signifies a recognition that in that community there are people outside of binary gender systems and heterosexual norms.
Note: This post was updated on August 3, 2018, to add the quote from truetrans.
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