the origin of “folx” and why we should all use it

the origin of “folx” and why we should all use it

artwork by me!

i created my kaja echo twitter account back in march. one of the first questions i posed upon my arrival in the more progressive parts of the twitter sex community  (is “sex community” what anyone else would call it? i am flummoxed here…) was about the usage of the term “folx.” i had to look it up myself, because i wasn’t sure why “folks” wasn’t already gender-neutral or what it indicated politically. i am occasionally behind on these things, so i asked what others thought and did some googling.

defining folx

i saw this originally tweeted by laurieann at backwoods bedroom and took the opportunity to ask the question!


that was pretty helpful, but i wanted to know a bit about the etymology, so i typed it into the google machine.

In a piece called “Womyn, wimmin, and other folx,” writer Mark Peters traces the lineage of the word this way:

One recent “x” word is both broad and specific: “folx,” which is defined by Word Spy lexicographer Paul McFedries as an umbrella term for people with a non-normative sexual orientation or identity. While this spelling has been around for nearly a century, the meaning similar to “Latinx” and “womxn” is a recent innovation.

mmhmm. that’s right, quora.

i also found this on a q&a site called stack exchange, which is a bit like quora only helpful.

Many also trace “folx” as stemming from the popularization of “Mx.” the honorific dates back to somewhat around 1977. we definitely see more use of this title these days. and “latinx” appeared in more common usage in the early 2000s. according to one entry by user RaceYouAnytime on the stack exchange page:

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 makes sense that the “x” used in “folx,” “latinx,” and “mx” is a more inclusive, gender neutral way to identify other people, since it doesn’t rely on a feminine/masculine form (like “latina/latino”). it allows us to connect these terms politically. ask a radical copywriter says it much better than i can here:

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.

why it’s important

changing our language to include all expressions of gender and sexuality is vital. even though it seems like a small thing that doesn’t really matter, it does! when we consider the power of our speech, we begin to think before we speak. we are able to see how our political beliefs should align with our language. think about how to better include everyone rather than upholding the gender status quo. for progressive and/or queer folx, the term connects us all and communicates that we see and recognize and care about each other across gender, sexuality, race, and class.

i welcome any corrections or additions to this piece in the comments or on my twitter feed. thanks in advance. i’m always willing to learn a better way. ❤