Updated: SEPTEMBER 30, 2021
Womxn is an alternative spelling for the common English words woman and women. Like these more common terms, womxn refers to people who identify as human adult females. The alternative spelling differentiates and separates womxn from man, as the term is not derived from and does not contain the word “man.” It aims to be more inclusive of all womxn, including transgender, non-binary, and people of color.
The term womxn was initially proposed by feminists in Seattle in 2016. Dictionary.com added it as an official entry in 2019.
More About Womxn
As womxn does not include the word man or men, as woman and women do, some say it more completely represents the complexity of the gender. Womxn is not simply the opposite of man. In giving womxn their own identity, separate from men, the term aims to be less sexist than “women.” It suggests womxn have autonomy and can thrive on their own, without men’s assistance.
However, some critics of the term argue that “woman” and “women” are already inclusive terms. When a museum and library in London used the term in a promotional tweet in 2018, it generated a huge backlash, and led to an apology from the organization.
Many people of color, transgender, and nonbinary people happily identify as women. Critics of the term have also argued Some people also argue that by claiming to include people of color, it assumes that “women” doesn’t. Some critics also note that the term womxn may offend the people it aims to include, such as transgender and nonbinary people. In emphasizing the various types of womxn, it does not serve non-cisgender people who do not want to draw attention to their differences. It could even out people who are not ready to share their gender identities.
The pronunciation of womxn is ambiguous. Some may say this is problematic for any term, but others disagree. Advocates argue the ambiguous pronunciation reflects the complexity of the gender this word represents. They also say that when pronunciation is unclear people must stop and think before they speak. People who use womxn welcome this moment of reflection on the word and, by extension, what it means.