Stop Trying to Make “Womxn” Happen
This week, the livestreaming platform Twitch came under fire for announcing their programming for Womxn’s History Month. Their use of the term womxn — which is often used by cis people to signal trans and nonbinary inclusion — was rightly criticized for being ill-conceived and performative.
What’s the matter with “womxn”? Well, if you took to Twitter the day of Twitch’s announcement, you’d probably get the impression that its major problem is cringey-ness. And it’s true, the word does make me wince. Womxn’s a word that does nothing to change trans people’s material circumstances, and it condescends to us and misgenders us far more than it extends us an olive branch. Mockery of arbitrary gender-neturalizing-x’s abounded in people’s social media posts about it (the word “folx” also came under fire). Even right-leaning people got in on the action; a word like womxn is easy to hate.
But as a trans person who is both a fan of precise thinking and a critic of language policing, I wish to clarify things: the real problem with “womxn” isn’t that it’s silly or laughable. Exactly where it falls on the performative-allyship-cringe-o-meter is up for debate. The problem with it isn’t that it’s out of date or offensive, either. It’s a relatively new term, and it’s one some individual nonbinary people do identify with (which is absolutely their right).
We Can Abolish Language Policing
Words can inspire reflection and growth, instead of prompting attacks
The problem with womxn is not the word itself, but the thinking that drove its creation. It’s the latest in a long, long line of attempts by cis people (usually cis women) to craft an oversimplifying catch-all word that encapsulates all gender-minority experiences, which is impossible because we’re not all the same. Our experiences are vast and our communities are diverse. My perspectives and feelings as a trans-effeminate person are nothing like what a gender fluid person goes through; a “binary” trans man knows very little about the life and perspective of a nonbinary trans…