Generally, ‘womxn’ seems to serve to make cis liberal people feel good about themselves. They will claim that the term is inclusive, that it includes trans women and non-binary people – how lucky we are to be included too. All it serves to do though is other us. People who use ‘womxn’ might want to seem inclusive, but there are already ways of doing that. If you want your group to include trans women, then just call us women. By using a different descriptor you’re showing us that you don’t think we fit with cis women, that we’re somehow other.
Perhaps you’re trying to use ‘womxn’ to include non-binary people. This shows a complete lack of understanding around the non-binary experience that I have known, from talking to non-binary people. They’re not pseudo-women, and if you’re just trying to describe afab non-binary people, you’re just being bigoted. You can’t take a large proportion of non-binary people and, in good conscience, invalidate their identity. Non-binary people are just that, they don’t want a part in the gender binary, and by extension, they don’t feel included in a term that most people will read as woman spelt badly.
Now that I’ve got the non-binary inclusion argument out of the way, I hope that you realise that if you want to say you’re inclusive to non-binary people, that’s all you have to say. As far as trans women are concerned, using ‘womxn’ does just feel like you don’t want us to be included with women, that we always have to use our transness as a qualifier that we’re not afab. At the end of the day, this is just bigotry. In your attempt to be inclusive you’ve just shown that you think we’re different. While on an individualistic level, everyone is obviously different, but gatekeeping womanhood to cis women in this way only serves to push trans women away.
Spurred on by March being women’s history month, some companies and groups have attempted to announce their inclusion with ‘womxn’. While it feels like beating a dead horse at this point, but non-binary people don’t want to be tacked onto Women’s history month like an afterthought. As a culture, we should be exploring what remains of non-binary history that hasn’t been systematically removed from records, but March isn’t the right time to be highlighting that history. I don’t know when the right time is, but I know that trying to merge non-binary and women’s history, while in many cases linked, does no justice to non-binary identities and their separateness from womanhood.
Yesterday, Twitch, the streaming platform, received quite a lot of backlash from its use of ‘womxn’ in a post for women’s history month, and they retracted it. They took the feedback constructively, which most of it was. They deleted it, and in a new statement, they’d taken on board the feedback. Their intentions were honest, but their execution was not something the trans community wanted. They accepted that their intentions don’t always equate to positive action, but explained they were working towards being better. While that is obviously a bit of PR drivel, it does have meaning behind it.
I suppose to conclude, if you want to be inclusive of trans women, call us just that – women. We know who we are and where we want to fit. Non-binary people are also just that, neither men nor women, so don’t ascribe them identities that they might be trying hard to escape, by calling then ‘womxn’.
My feminism supports men, women, and non-binary people to live in a more equitable society. Where we aren’t judged for our identities, and no-one tries to define us with words that just don’t fit our identities.
Image courtesy of Sharon McCutcheon.