Womxn is a gender-inclusive term that goes beyond “woman” to include non-binary people and transgender people. The term is meant to promote gender inclusivity and challenge traditional gender norms.
Womxn – meaning and definition
The term “womxn” is a gender-inclusive spelling of “woman”, intended to be more progressive and inclusive of all gender identities.
The “x” in “womxn” is used to signify a departure from the conventional spelling, which, historically, has been perceived as exclusive and centered around cisgender women.
By using “womxn”, the term aims to encompass a broader spectrum of gender identities, including cisgender women, transgender women, non-binary individuals, genderqueer individuals, and others who identify with womanhood.
In 1975, the term “womyn” appeared for the first time in the issue of Lesbian Connection Magazine to announce the Wolf Creem Womyn’s Festival. The Festival organizers indicated that those who attend must be “womyn-born-womyn”, so the term became a white, liberal-feminist transphobic concept.
In 2010, the term “womxn” started appearing in intersectional spaces and has since become more used.
In 2019, the term was adopted into Dictionary.com as a term for an alternative spelling of “woman” used in, especially, intersectional feminism, to avoid the suggestion of sexism perceived in the spelling sequences m-a-n and m-e-n and to be inclusive of trans women and nonbinary people.
Challenging the original idea of womanhood
The use of “womxn” is rooted in the desire to challenge the idea that womanhood is defined solely by biology or conforming to traditional gender norms.
It serves as a way to recognize the diverse experiences and identities of those who identify as women while also being mindful of their intersectionality of gender and other aspects of identity, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, and disability.
Significance of womxn in promoting gender inclusivity
The term “womxn” holds significant importance in promoting gender inclusivity and challenging traditional notions of gender.
By introducing this inclusive language, several key factors come into play, influencing our understanding of gender identity and fostering a more inclusive society.
Below are some examples of this.
1. Challenging gender norms
By introducing the term “womxn”, society is challenged to rethink traditional gender norms and expand its understanding of gender beyond the binary.
It promotes an environment where gender expression is more fluid and diverse, allowing people to embrace their authentic selves without being confined by outdated societal expectations.
2. Creating safer spaces
Using “womxn” can contribute to creating safer and more inclusive spaces. It signals a commitment to recognizing and respecting the diversity of gender identities, helping to combat discrimination and prejudice against those who don’t fit traditional gender norms.
3. Encouraging progressive dialogue
Adopting inclusive language like “womxn” sparks conversation about gender identity, diversity, and inclusion. It encourages people to explore and understand the experiences of others, promoting empathy and challenging harmful stereotypes and biases.
4. Supporting advocacy efforts
Incorporating “womxn” into language usage can help support the efforts of activists and advocate working towards gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. It also reinforces the idea that everyone’s vices and experiences matter in the fight for a more equitable society.
Controversy relating to the term and its impact on transgenders
While the term “womxn” is intended to be a more inclusive and progressive alternative to “woman”, it has faced criticism and controversy within the transgender community.
Some argue that the term, while well-intentioned, may not be as inclusive as intended for transgender individuals.
Below are some examples of the concerns and the controversy surrounding the term.
1. Exclusion of transgender women
The term “womxn” has been criticized for potentially excluding transgender women.
By using a spelling that differentiates them from the term “women”, there is a risk of perpetuating the harmful notion that transgender women are somehow fundamentally different from cisgender women.
This can inadvertently contribute to the stigmatization and marginalization of transgender women, who already face significant challenges in society.
2. Reinforcing the gender binary
Despite the initial intention to challenge traditional gender norms, some argue that the term “womxn” may inadvertently reinforce the gender binary by attempting to create a separate category for transgender and non-binary individuals.
This can undermine efforts to break free from the confines of the binary gender construct and limit the acknowledgment of diverse gender identities.
3. Overlooking non-binary identities
While the term “womxn” aims to be inclusive of non-binary people, some argue that it still centers around the idea of womanhood, potentially overlooking other gender identities.
Non-binary individuals may prefer more natural and all-encompassing language that does not emphasize gender-specific terms.
4. Inconsistent pronunciation and usage
The term “womxn” can be challenging to pronounce, leading to confusion in its usage.
This can inadvertently alienate individuals who are unfamiliar with the term or misunderstand its purpose, making it difficult for the term to gain widespread acceptance and understanding.