Twitch apologises for using the word ‘womxn’: ‘We’re still learning’
Streaming platform Twitch has apologised after it faced backlash for using the alternative spelling “womxn” instead of “women”.
The word “womxn” has come into more frequent use over the last decade, according to Dictionary.com, and is one of several alternative spellings of the word “women”.
However, the word has been used extensively by transphobes on social media in an effort to delegitimise trans women’s identities.
The word has been the subject of controversy and debate in the past, with a number of organisations facing criticism for using “womxn” in an effort to be inclusive of trans and non-binary people. However, many LGBT+ people have pointed out that using the word implies that trans women are a separate category from cisgender women, giving it a transphobic overtone.
Twitch, a live-streaming platform largely used by gamers, used the alternative spelling in a tweet about Women’s History Month, seemingly in an effort to be inclusive of trans and non-binary people – but it backfired badly.
“March is Womxn’s History Month,” Twitch tweeted. “Join us in celebrating and supporting all the Womxn creating their own worlds, building their communities, and leading the way on Twitch.”
The streaming platform faced a storm of criticism on social media, with many pointing out that the alternative spelling is problematic.
my thoughts on Twitch using ‘womxn’ in their Women’s History Month post today: pic.twitter.com/DniB5ldL5I
— Bloody (@Bloody) March 1, 2021
that twitch intern sending out the “womxn” tweet pic.twitter.com/ley4qs1f9A
— Lindsay Ellis (@thelindsayellis) March 2, 2021
I sure am glad that Twitch used Womxn to include trans women but still haven't added a Trans tag so you can actually find trans streamers!!!!
— ☔️Fiona☔️ (@FioDeer) March 1, 2021
Spelling women as “womxn” was completely pointless. The word ‘Women’ was already inclusive to trans and nb women.
Changing the word implies that trans and nb women are not real women and it’s disrespectful to the trans women who are fighting to be recognized as women.
— 🇺🇸 I'm Ready Crippling Depression 🇺🇸 (@Wunderzorro) March 2, 2021
What the hell Twitch. I've never heard of the term "Womxn" before 30 minutes ago and almost immediately I knew it would be a term trying to single out trans woman in some way. There doesn't need to be a term that separates them, that's less inclusive…
Trans woman are woman
— Raine Yi🔞☢️Toxic? Slime💦【ENVTuber】 (@RaineYiVTube) March 1, 2021
basically the vibe twitch is giving off is like "well if it was a group of cis women we'd say women, of course! but we're including trans women. so now it's womxn :)" which is… w e i r d.
i hope this helps!!
— harley 🥨 (@breadwitchery) March 1, 2021
The word is "women." Even if you're trying to sound inclusive, the rallying cry has never been "trans women are womxn" now, has it?
— Natalie'Zorah (@TerraSirena) March 1, 2021
Twitch staff be like "trans women aren't real women therefore we use womxn"
— Christina is also a Tall Lady (@ChristinaTasty) March 1, 2021
Who in their right mind invents a word like womxn?
Its so easy.
If you identify as a woman. You are a woman. We don't need to invent a new word for women who TERF's think shouldn't be women.
Seriously, I love the twitch community but sometimes it's hard to love twitch. https://t.co/p3DwFQsDmR
— Giles Moxom (@Gmoxom) March 2, 2021
Just gonna put this out there, you're not an ally if you're embracing the use of "womxn". It's not inclusive to anyone, not cis women, not trans women, not non-binary female presenting peeps. It's rooted in transphobia. Any all can take 5 seconds and look this up 🖕
— LimeRunner (@thelimerunner) March 1, 2021
Just hours later, Twitch apologised for using the word “womxn” and said it will use the correct spelling going forward.
“While we originally wanted to use a word that acknowledges the shortcoming of gender-binary language, after hearing directly from you, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community on Twitch, we will be using the spelling ‘women’ moving forward.
“We want to assure you that we have, and will continue to, work with the LGBTQIA+ community. We’re still learning. Our good intentions don’t always equate to positive impact, but we’re committed to growing from these experiences, doing better, and ensuring we’re inclusive to all,” they added.
We want to assure you that we have, and will continue to, work with the LGBTQIA+ community. We're still learning. Our good intentions don't always equate to positive impact, but we're committed to growing from these experiences, doing better, and ensuring we're inclusive to all.
— Twitch (@Twitch) March 2, 2021
This is not the first time an organisation has come under fire for using the alternative spelling of “women”. The Wellcome Collection faced fierce backlash in 2018 when it used the term on Twitter, angering both anti-trans commentators and trans people.
Trans Media Watch told BBC News following that controversy that they will never use the word “womxn”.
“We would generally just write ‘women’ in the usual way because we feel it’s important for people to recognise that trans women are women,” Jennie Kermode, chair of the group, said at the time.
“Trans women aren’t a special, separate category.”