Why Womxn ? Its Meaning And Definition
The meaning of “Womxn”: There is a short story.
Womxn is an intersectional term intended to signal the inclusion of those who have traditionally been excluded from the white feminist discourse: black women, women of color and trans women. More recently, the term has also been used to include non-binary people.
With the removal of man or men in the end, womxn strengthens some as it is not defined in terms of men.
Moving on – as you have since then – today’s topic is the word womxn. (Hey, didn’t you just wonder about that?)
You may see it a lot this month, but not here. While womxn can be helpful to some communities, it is alienating to others – especially trans and non-binary people.
Thrown into the company’s Instagram bios with hindsight, pasted into the descriptions of online women’s groups, and thrown on marketing collateral, womxn isn’t the one-size-fits-all welcome sign it hopes for.
How Should I Use The Term “Womxn”?
“It is perfectly legitimate for individuals to want to use ‘womxn’ to describe themselves as long as they don’t assume that others will be happy with it,” says Prishita.
“But when talking about shared experiences with people of other marginalized genders, it is important to say ‘womxn and non-binary people’.
“Overall, I would say that the best strategy is to talk about the shared experience itself, for example ‘people who have menstruated’ or ‘people who have had pregnancy’. This allows our language to incorporate people’s different identities without assuming that they feel comfortable being referred to in a certain way. “
Gender-Related Terms That You Should Know
In order to really understand the problem at hand, there are a few terms that you should know beforehand, so here is a handy glossary. (Why do I always say “hand?”)
Cisgender: A person whose gender identity matches the gender assigned at birth.
Transgender: A person whose gender identity does not match the gender assigned at birth.
The binary gender: A scientifically incorrect and outdated (IMO) means of classifying gender into two different forms: male and female.
Non-binary: A person whose identity is outside the binary gender. For me, it means feeling happiest when I have no gender at all.
There are so many more terms that can help, but I have a word count.
Where “Womxn” is Controversial?
As mentioned earlier, there are many valid and important reasons why people use the word womxn to describe themselves. When the term womxn is attributed to trans women or non-binary people without their consent, it becomes problematic.
Trans Women are Women. That’s It.
There’s no particular difference that should be made and making one is kind of transphobic, tbh. As Jennie Kermode, former chairman of Trans Media Watch said, “We would just write the usual way to women in general because we think it is important for people to recognize that trans women are women. Trans women are not a special, separate category. “
Non-Binary People are not Women (or Men).
From personal experience, being referred to as a woman can actually be quite dysphoric. When you use this term, you are still placing someone within the binary gender identity, which is in contrast to the non-binary identity itself.
Womyn vs Womxn
While both may seem harmless, each has a different meaning. Generally, womxn is used by people who consider themselves progressive and have good intentions in their inclusiveness – if not sometimes misguided.
Womyn, on the other hand, has become an anti-trans term used by radical “feminists” who mistakenly believe that trans inclusivity invalidates their plight.
Your view of gender (this gender = genitals at birth) is reducing and harmful.
“Womxn” Is Divisive?
For Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin, LGBTIQA + community organizer and trustee of the direct action group Voices4London, the use of “womxn” to refer explicitly to Trans * and WOC is more divisive than inclusive, as these groups are already used in the terms ” Woman / women ”should be included.
“We claim and accept that trans women and women of color are women and have always been women. You don’t need a separate word to be included in what it means to be a woman, ”she says.
Also, the term “womxn” is now used in new ways, but not all of these uses are appropriate, adds Prishita. “As intersectionality has grown in popularity in mainstream rhetoric, ‘womxn’ is used to encompass a range of identities of marginalized genders, including non-binary people.”
“While some non-binary people can identify with ‘womxn’, it is important to realize that non-binary people are not women and that their identities should not be obliterated by being put under a roof that they do not consent to to have.”
But I Read an Article That Said ” Womxn ” is Inclusive
Whenever you are reading an article or post that presents yourself as a definitive resource, it is always important to double-check who wrote it.
Often times, the biggest proponents of the word womxn are cis women, who have decided on behalf of trans and non-binary people that the word includes them. As with any community, the best way to ensure representation and accuracy is to ask the actual members of that community what terms they are using.
While I can’t speak for every non-binary person, I can say that none of the non-binary friends I have interviewed informally would ever use the word womxn when referring to themselves. The word has a very large squick factor when applied to us.
Here Are Some Other Unintended Transphobic Phrases
There are entire threads devoted to words and phrases that allies * think * are supportive but are actually transphobic in practice. Some examples:
- “Preferred Pronouns” Someone’s pronouns are their pronouns. They are not optional.
- “Identified as” or “identifying women” This makes the gender seem like a cute little choice. It is not very much.
- “Women and non-binary people.” The grouping of women and non-binary people can be dysphoric for those in the latter demographic. Even if it is not your intention, it means that non-binary people are “women lite”. For me it is interpreted as “women and people who we secretly think are women, wink, wink.” Not a good feeling.
- “No men allowed (* transmen welcome).” If cisms are not allowed in a room, trans men shouldn’t be either. Otherwise, you’re still making a group distinction and – you guessed it – that’s transphobic.
The final result? Before applying labels, always ask the community you are applying them to first. And if you don’t know or follow anyone in this community, think about why that is and why you thought you were qualified to speak for them in the first place.
How Do I Show My Allyship?
Before using womxn to signal that you are a transinclusive person or room, consider why it isn’t already obvious.
If you want to know that they are welcome in your space, site, or product then include them – not by differentiating them, but by making an effort to showcase them without making a Big Deal ™ .
Always ask for consent first, of course. Don’t just post the content of a trans or non-binary person just to make your product look good. If you are serious about being progressive and supportive, do the job removing your own prejudice and let your feed / life / media reflect that.
When it comes to companies and brands, mission statements are a start, but cannot replace real change. Corporations need to view their actions with the same care as individuals.
Is it a good first step? If you see issues affecting trans women – especially trans women of color who experience heartbreakingly high levels of violence – talk about them. Not because it looks good, but because it’s right.
How to Degender Your Space?
If you are part of a gendered space, you may have to simply accept that the space may not be welcome even to non-binary people, despite the fact that it says “non-binary people are welcome”.
To do this, you should check that your marketing actually needs the full gender distribution.
Instead of: “This bra is for women who want a relaxed fit.”
Try: “For anyone who needs a relaxing fit at the end of a long day at work.”
Instead of: “Ladies, your period, Amirit?”
Try: “People who menstruate that can sometimes suckle.”
Instead of: “Women who are confronted with sexism.”
Try: “Those who experience misogyny.”
At the end of the day, having a gendered space isn’t transphobic – from support groups and mentoring programs to game nights and The Bachelor marathons. (I seriously only have one agenda, and it’s not the gay one.)
It only becomes transphobic if you tokenize others or any trans people there.
However, if you want your space to include non-binary people, you probably have a lot of work to do on segregating your content. And if you’re a cisperson, you probably aren’t the most qualified person for this.
Can I Still Use The Term “Womxn” for Myself?
Naturally! If womxn is powerful and meaningful to you then do it. Use it with dedication. A perfect word for some. Just don’t apply it to others without their consent, and pay attention to how it matters to those who are trans and non-binary.
Womxn, on the other hand, is something that I can get over with.