Is ‘Womxn’ a Bad Word?
This tweet is making the rounds and causing divisiveness in trans women's groups.
A trans woman acquaintance of mine reposted it yesterday.
Here's my response to her:
"Womxn" is a valid inclusive spelling of the word "women."
It is a response to the spelling "womyn," which started out as a feminist effort to remove the word ‘men’ from a descriptor for women. Sadly, it was appropriated by the TERFs. "Womyn" is now TERFspeak, like "wbw." And "womxn" means ALL women — cis & trans.
A couple of interesting things about these words:
a) The word “man” did not originally mean “male human.” The word meant “human being.” The male form was ‘wereman” and the female form was “wyfman” (that’s where “werewolf” comes from). But patriarchy being what it is, “man” became to mean BOTH “mankind” and “male humans” (it is astounding how little the lives, wellbeing and stories of women have mattered down the centuries!)
b) The etymology of the word “woman” is steeped in obsolete gender roles. It was originally “wyfman” or “wifman,” and it meant something along the lines of “wife human.” And “wife” originally meant “the one who tends to the grain,” or “the one who harvests the crop.”
NONE of these are meant to represent nonbinary folk. Non binary folk are NOT women. Referring to Enbies as women, whether you spell it one way or another, just shows ignorance of the gender spectrum, and is disrespectful to Enbies.
To indicate that both women and enbies are welcome, there's the term "women+," also spelled "womxn+."
Another alternative is to just write "marginalized genders" to mean "anyone except for cis men."
If someone uses the term to include Enbies, they're showing some ignorance. That is not transphobia. Lack of comprehension and bigotry are two separate and different things.
Someone using a word incorrectly does not make the word a bad word. If someone uses the word 'French' to include all Europeans, they're showing a a lack of understanding — not their dislike for Belgians. And it doesn't make the word 'French' a bad word.
Yes, the word 'women' already includes trans women, of course. But just like the word 'womyn' has come to mean 'and we exclude trans women,' the word 'womxn' has come to mean, 'and we include trans women,' which is a show of solidarity and inclusion. It saves a trans woman the need to write an event organizer to ask what their petition is on the matter.
I hope our society will become more and more inclusive, and that the need for signifying "trans women welcome" becomes less needed. In our current society, it's still needed.
'Womxn' means someone thought of women like me, and went out of their way to make me feel included.
It doesn't make me feel unwelcome. It makes me feel accepted, included, and grateful that I don't have to make an awkward phone call.
Someone wrote to tell me the word is ‘othering.’ I insist it’s not.
The reason I say this is that ‘womxn’ does NOT mean ‘trans women.’
The word means “ALL women, cis or trans.” It’s the exact opposite of othering. It’s intentional in its inclusion. It means “women” AND ALSO “…and by the way, don’t come at us with any TERF nonsense.”
PS: I do get why a lot of trans women are objecting to this term. Many of us feel we’re at a point in society where our inclusion into women’s spaces should not be a question mark. And I agree — in principle. I also know the reality that we’re not quite there yet. The conservative Right in America, Australia, and many other countries is pushing back, hard, against trans inclusion. TERFs are campaigning HARD against trans inclusion in many countries. Assuming all is well and we’re well-received everywhere is dangerously naive.
PPS: If you see anyone using “womxn” to indicate “…oh, and Non-Binary folk too,” then please reach out to them and explain, as gracefully and compassionately as you’re able, that Non-Binary folk are not “women-lite” — they’re a markedly different demographic than women and should be acknowledged as such.