Update: While the intention of womxn is to connote intersectionality, the term has affiliation with TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminists). Because women are women, full stop, we’ve decided to use women in future instances to help maintain a space where all women can feel seen and safe.
Since we launched OwnTrail in early February, we’ve been getting notes from a huge variety of women (mostly ones we don’t know) sharing words of encouragement about how excited they are for what we’re building and how inspired they are by the leap we are taking. We are not exaggerating when we say that these notes are literally the things that keep us going during the ups and downs of entrepreneurship — they mean everything to us.
Once such note from a kind woman that we haven’t met asked an important question (in the form of a pointing out a “typo”) that we thought was worth highlighting here: “Why Womxn?”
Before answering why we talk about womxn (with an x), let’s first answer another question we’ve been getting, largely from investors: “Why not men?”
While men and women have a lot of shared needs, such as wondering where we’re going in life, how we’re going to get there, and hoping we “get it right,” there are also some notable differences. While many of the milestones that women experience in their lives — such as glass ceilings, sexual harassment and infertility, to name a few — are ones experienced by all genders, they are more commonly experienced by women. Also, the level of authenticity and vulnerability that we are hoping to foster on OwnTrail tends to be easier to cultivate when we have a centered space for women to share their journeys. And it’s worth pointing out that, as 50% of the population, women are hardly a niche market :)
Now, back to the x in womxn. There are a few schools of thinking around this spelling. The first is to create a word that doesn’t encompass “man”. As Natalia Emmanuel explains, “spelling of the word ‘womxn’ is done in an effort to emphasize the idea that womxn are their own separate people, capable of operating on their own and without a man to aid them.” Another reason for this spelling of womxn, as Dai’Tynn Coppage-Walker shares, is that it “makes it more inclusive towards people who do not identify with the gender binary.” And finally, the term has also been used to denote broader forms of intersectionality, defined by Ebony Miranda as “women and those affected by misogyny, or women-related issues.”
We are building OwnTrail with intersectionality at its core. One of the big problems we’re trying to solve for is that it can be hard to feel the confidence — or even the idea — to go after big aspirations when we don’t see people who look like us in the places we might aspire to. In order for OwnTrail users to be able to see the trails of people who share their same identities and experiences, we need to have an extremely diverse array of trails that have been shared. We recognize that oftentimes spaces created for women end up being centered on white, heterosexual, able-bodied cis women. We want to be intentional about creating a space for all the identities that women hold.
With inclusivity as one of our core values (you can see all of them here), we want to make sure the language we use is inclusive. While we don’t use the x everywhere, we use it in key places such as our homepage header to make it clear that this is a space for everyone who identifies as a woman or gender non-binary. It’s a reflection that we don’t just accept all identities of women — we celebrate them!