Ask a Radical Copyeditor: Folx

arc_folx_final

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.

What’s your take on folx? Comment below! Want to ask a radical copyeditor something? Contact me! Was this post helpful to you? Consider making a donation!

Note: This post was updated on August 3, 2018, to add the quote from truetrans.


More posts you might like:

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The Radical Copyeditor’s Style Guide for Writing About Transgender People
ARC_latinx_final
Ask a Radical Copyeditor: “Latinx”
spectrum of language final
The Spectrum of Language

 

4 thoughts on “Ask a Radical Copyeditor: Folx

  1. The main explanation I’ve seen for folx is that it makes the word sort of explicitly gender neutral, because in many languages folks has masc/feminine variations and thus will be translated away from gender neutrality. Using “folx” prevents that. This is why you see it more often among queer/trans communities, since that’s where gender-aware folx congregate, but the usage shouldn’t be limited to us QTs!

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    1. This explanation mystifies me and I can’t help but wonder if it’s a back-fill sort of thing from people who are consciously or unconsciously associating “folx” with “Latinx” and are trying to apply the same logic here, even though it doesn’t make sense. There’s nothing gendered about the word “folks.” I suppose it does make it harder to translate the word “people” into Spanish or French in gendered ways, but it’s really hard for me to believe that this is the origin of “folx.”

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  2. This one always rubs me weird.

    Latinx makes sense to me. Spanish is a gendered language, and the english loan words latino/latina are explicitly gendered, leaving problems in the face of mixed groups, generic descriptions, and known non-binary people.

    Folkx doesn’t make functional sense to me at all. Like, “folks” is gender-neutral? Not like a lazy patriarchy sort of way, the way “guys” is (I’ll leave “dude” for another discussion), but is actually gender neutral? So you’d only want to use “folkx” for effect?

    I don’t get it, and I don’t buy any explanations so far?

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    1. The word “folks” is not gendered. As far as I’m aware, the word “folx” was never meant to be about gender neutrality. As I note in the blog post, to the best of my understanding, folx came into being by queer/trans people of color as “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.” It was never meant to replace or “improve” on the word “folks.” Hope this helps.

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