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The term “womxn” has been adopted by some progressives since 2010 to serve as a more inclusive term for woman, but outlets and organizations who have used the term have faced backlash from those who believe it is exclusionary to the trans and non-binary community.
According to dictionary.com, womxn is “a woman (used, especially in intersectional feminism, as an alternative spelling to avoid the suggestion of sexism perceived in the sequences m-a-n and m-e-n, and to be inclusive of trans and nonbinary women).”
As early as 1975, the term “womyn” appeared in an issue of Lesbian Connection magazine, and was subsequently used by other organizations and publications. According to The University of California, Irvine’s Womxn’s Center for Success, the term was “brought up in intersectional feminist spaces” beginning in 2010, with the Womxn’s March Seattle picking up the term in 2016.
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A 2019 New York Times article asked “What Do Womxn Want?” proceeding to answer their own question: “Maybe not to have the word ‘man’ in their word anymore!”
Some progressives have championed the term, using it as a more inclusive version of “woman.”
Following a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion revealed that the landmark court case could be overturned, former First Lady Michelle Obama raised eyebrows in an Instagram post writing, “State lawmakers will have the power to strip womxn of the right to make decisions about their bodies and their healthcare.”
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Self-care brand Blume explained “why we’ve decided to use ‘womxn’ instead of ‘woman’ or ‘women,’ and…why you should too.”
But, other organizations and outlets have faced backlash for using the term, particularly from other progressives who do not believe it is inclusive.
Girlboss.com explained that “’Womxn’ Isn’t Exactly the Inclusive Term you Think It Is,” asserting that “While womxn may be helpful for some communities, it’s alienating for others-particularly trans and nonbinary people.”
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A now-deleted tweet from Northwest Missouri State University referred to Women’s History Month as “Womynx History Month,” linking to a website explaining that the school used the term “Womynx” to “encourage inclusivity.”
“Wtf is Womynx?? This is what people go into debt to learn?” the popular Twitter account LibsofTikTok tweeted.
Streaming platform Twitch backtracked plans to swap the word “woman” for “womxn” after facing backlash from those who felt the term inferred that trans women were not women.
“Womxn implies trans women aren’t real women and non-binary people are women, so it’s best to avoid using it if you want to make a safe space for trans people,” an Insider opinion columnist wrote following the Twitch controversy.
Twitch later apologized, writing on Twitter “we want to assure you that we have, and will continue to, work with the LGBTQIA+ community. We’re still learning.”
While the Insider opinion column noted the term is non-inclusive of trans women, author Canela Lopez said it “doesn’t make sense” when referring to non-binary people.
“While some non-binary trans people do self-identify as womxn, saying “womxn” to refer to all non-binary people doesn’t make sense,” Lopez wrote.
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Even the University of California, Irvine’s Womxn’s Center for Success noted a problem on their website explaining the term.
“Most pronounce it like they are saying woman or women, but spell the singular and plural with the ‘x.’ However, this raises the question if that actually is truly inclusive; members of the blind community may be left out if there is no audible way for them to hear this distinction,” the site reads.