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I've been noticing the term "folx" appear in my transgender circles recently, but I'm not sure where it came from.

This article from the Boston Globe uses the term in an article addressing recent trends in gender-neutral neologisms, but only incidentally.

It doesn't seem - to me - like it's more gender-neutral than "folks," so I'm curious why the addition was made.

I'm looking around online, and there's a lot of speculation, but it's difficult to find anything definitive. Ideas I've seen include,

  • that it just looks better,
  • that it matches other neutral forms, like "Latinx,"
  • that it's tonally in line with a punk theme

But these ideas can only explain why it's still in use, and not where it came from.

Is its origin known?

  • This is gonna get real weird for languages that distinguish male and female people. Take Spanish friend amigo/amiga. Things are going to get very weird indeed. – Zebrafish Apr 1 '18 at 8:03
  • @Zebrafish To say nothing of "he" and "she" in English. – WS2 Apr 1 '18 at 8:44
  • How weird, Google ngrams will give a graph for "folx" and it had high usage in 1800s but I can’t find a citable definition for it. – Pam Apr 1 '18 at 9:12
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    @Zebrafish I have seen things like ‘carísimxs amigxs’ used in Spanish, though a more common (and quite brilliant, I think) variation is ‘carísim@s amig@s’. It takes more effort in such languages because more things are inflected so the neutrality-marker requires more repetition than in English where it only applies to nouns; but languages that inflect for masculine/feminine gender do manage to find ways of achieving the same effect. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 1 '18 at 14:22
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    @bof I don't know where to begin. Quickly, 1. Mother tongue means first or native tongue. 2. No conclusive evidence it's called that for reason you assert. 3. Even if true, you learned from others, not only your mum. 4. Your mother may have spoken sexist language because it was the language of her wider society. 5 Historically literature and law is written by males. Texts of major religions are or attributed.I don't know any man who's published under a woman's name to be taken seriously. Yet disguising a writer's female sex is common, George Elliot, Bronte sisters, even J.K. Rowling arguably. – Zebrafish Apr 3 '18 at 7:53
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It seems notable that an earlier cited use of an "X" to denote gender neutrality is in the honorific Mx., which dates in writing to the 1970s.

According to this article in The Huffington Post, Latinx appears to have grown into use in the 2000's, and it appears from articles covering folx that it was also cited in writing as recently as the 21st century.

The OED has this to say about the etymology of "Mx."

Apparently < M- (in Mr n., Mrs n.1, Ms n.2, etc.) + X n., probably denoting an unknown or variable quantity (compare sense 3 at that entry)

The referenced sense 3 refers to "X" as it is commonly used in algebra to refer to an unknown entity, and allusive extensions.

Katherine Rosman in The New York Times describes the earliest found citation of the honorific:

The first citation of Mx. found by Ms. Martin’s team dates to 1977, in a publication called The Single Parent. In the midst of the Ms. era, an article in it wondered whether a courtesy title that masks gender might help ameliorate any bias against single parents. “On second thought, maybe both sexes should be called Mx.,” the article said. “That would solve the gender problem entirely.”

This leads me to believe that "X" as a gender-neutral particle originated with "Mx.," functioning as a wildcard character of sorts, and was used similarly by the communities that coined "Latinx" and "folx."

It's possible that "folx" evolved independently of these other words that use "x" to denote gender-neutrality, but it would also be a significant coincidence. For this reason, I suspect that tracing earlier uses of gender-neutral "x" is the best we can do regarding an etymology of "folx."

0

Folx is a gender neutral collective noun used to address a group of people. Unlike the term "folks", the ending "-x" on "folx" specifically includes LGBTQ people and those who do not identify within the gender binary. wikipedia, urban dictionary, Boston Globe article

The X connotes a difference. An effort to highlight. To focus their lexicon to their identities.

Etymology is s/w lacking: (same citation)

According to Word Spy lexicographer Paul McFedries, the term "folx" has existed for "at least a century".1 According to McFredies, the first published use of "folx" appeared in 2001 in a blog post written by BiNet Los Angeles board member and owner of GirlFags.com Clare in describing her identity as well as other queer identities.2 The first documented definition of "folx" appeared in 2006, when an individual named Ranmoth provided a definition of "folx" on Urban Dictionary.

Your questions:

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    You've cited authorities, but you haven't made a case for "folx" being more gender-neutral than "folks". That's what the question was about.... – Spencer Apr 1 '18 at 13:14
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    @Spencer - No reference, but I've been under the impression that "X" is being used of late to suggest "trans-gender" in various contexts. It has a natural association with the concept of "trans" in the non-sexual sense from way back -- eg, "xfer" for "transfer". – Hot Licks Apr 1 '18 at 13:18
  • Ultimately, I'm not sure this is an answer to my question. I understand fairly well why it exists - but this is an etymology question. – Aza Apr 1 '18 at 17:06
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    I'm not sure the math in the quote is right: "at least a century" "the first published use of 'folx' appeared in 2001". – Laurel Apr 3 '18 at 0:04
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    'Unlike the term "folks" '—[Citation needed]. "Folks" has absolutely no connotation or denotation of sex, sexuality, or gender. Unless you're saying people are using it because they don't identify as Human? – Kevin Apr 3 '18 at 0:36

protected by MetaEd Nov 27 '18 at 23:34

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