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The term womxn (/ˈwʊmɪn/) is an alternative spelling of the English word woman. It is used, particularly by intersectional feminists, to avoid perceived sexism in the standard spelling—which contains and derives from the word man[1]—and to be explicitly inclusive of transgender and nonbinary women.[2][3] Womxn was first used after 2010 and has since been adopted by various organizations, including university groups in the US and UK.[2][4][5] The term has been praised as being more inclusive than women and other terms (such as womyn). Conversely, it has been criticized as being unnecessary, confusing, or conflicting with the lack of usage of mxn to describe men.[6][7]


Dictionary.com, which added womxn and 300 other words to its dictionary in 2019,[8] defines womxn as:

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).[2]

Harvard sociologist Keridwen Luis states that feminists have experimented for decades to devise a suitable alternative for the term identifying the female gender. Such terms have included "wimmin" (in the 1990s), based upon the original Old English term, and "womyn" (since at least 1975).[9][10]

The Boston Globe calls the term "a powerful, increasingly popular label, encompassing a broader range of gender identities than 'woman'—or even older feminist terms such as 'womyn' ... a nontraditional spelling for people whose gender identity doesn’t fit in the traditional boxes".[9] Jennie Kermode, chair of Trans Media Watch, stated that the organization would not use the term, considering that women already includes trans women.[3] The New York Times stated that while womxn was difficult to pronounce, it was "perhaps the most inclusive word yet",[10] using a similar approach to the term "Latinx". Sociologist Nita Harper praised the term's ambiguity in pronunciation, saying that it forces users to "stop and think".[9]

Current uses[edit]

Womxn's March on Seattle, 2018

In 2017, the Womxn's March on Seattle chose to use the term "womxn" to promote the march. Elizabeth Hunter-Keller, the event's communications chair, told The New York Times that they chose it based upon the recommendation of a core organizer, who was a nonbinary person, and to reflect the organizing group's diversity. Hunter-Keller reported that although there were some questions, most supporters encouraged the choice.[10] In January 2018, Portland held the Indigenous Womxn’s March, dedicated to missing and murdered indigenous girls, women, and transgender people.[11]

In October 2019, the Wellcome Collection, a museum and library in London, made an announcement through Twitter using the term to demonstrate their goal of including diverse perspectives; after complaints from hundreds of followers, the museum later apologized and removed the term from its website.[10][12] Labour Party politician Jess Phillips responded to the incident by saying, "I've never met a trans woman who was offended by the word woman being used, so I'm not sure why this keeps happening".[3] Clara Bradbury-Rance of King's College London conjectured that the push-back was because the use of the term was seen as too simplistic and a "fix-all".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scupin, Raymond (2012). Cultural anthropology: a global perspective (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson. p. 96. ISBN 978-0205158805.
  2. ^ a b c "Definition of womxn". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Regan, Alex (2018-10-10). "Should women be spelt womxn?". BBC News. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  4. ^ Guy, Jack. "Women or 'womxn'? Students adopt inclusive language". CNN. CNN. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  5. ^ Lencki, Maria (10 January 2019). "'Woman,' 'womxn' or 'womyn': Campus feminist groups opt for alternative spelling". The College Fix. The College Fix. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  6. ^ Topping, Alexandra (10 October 2018). "Wellcome Collection excoriated over use of term 'womxn'". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  7. ^ Wharton, Jane (27 November 2018). "Students replace word women with womxn because term 'men' is offensive". Metro. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  8. ^ Spector, Nicole (8 April 2019). "'Male gaze', 'imposter syndrome' and 'womxn' among Dictionary.com's new words of 2019". NBC News. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Peters, Mark (9 May 2017). "Womyn, wimmin, and other folx". Boston Globe. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d Kerr, Breena (14 March 2019). "What Do Womxn Want?". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  11. ^ Buck, Kate (11 October 2018). "Why are people getting so angry at changing the spelling of 'woman' to 'womxn'?". Metro.uk. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  12. ^ Guy, Jack (27 November 2018). "Women or 'womxn'? Students adopt inclusive language". CNN. Retrieved 23 June 2020.