On 3/1/2021, to celebrate the start of International Women’s Month, the official Twitter account of the streaming platform Twitch tweeted the following:
March is Womxn’s History Month. Join us in celebrating and supporting all the Womxn creating their own worlds, building their communities, and leading the way on Twitch.
The use of “womxn” instead of “women” was quickly mocked across the internet. Twitch quickly deleted the tweet and said the following in response:
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.
Of course, there’s already a term one can use to describe people who cannot be fully described because of “the shortcoming of gender-binary language,” you can simply call those people non-binary. (Those people, it should be noted, don’t identify as women and as such have little interest in being included as women — but you know.) But while breaking down this excuse is fun, it’s important to ask why Twitch thought this would be a good idea in the first place.
According to Twitch, they did this to be more inclusive to the LGBT community. However, no male-to-female transgender person believes herself to be a “womxn” — she believes she’s a woman. Hence why the phrase “trans-women are women” has become so popular among advocates for transgender people and those who advocate for their rights. It’s a rather simple confirmation of ideas, no new words involved.
Does Twitch believe transgender-women are women? If they do, it seems odd they decided they had to create an entirely new word in order to put them in the same category as cisgender-women. One would think, if transgender-women are women, which Twitch now says it believes, that the word “women” would be good enough.
Some might be wondering why I bothered to write an article about this considering Twitch apologized for the statement less than twenty-four hours later. Even ignoring the fact that I bluntly don’t believe their apology and do believe they exposed themselves as having transphobic beliefs, this is actually a rather good jumping-off point for what’s becoming a massive issue: people trying to act progressive by embracing simple solutions they haven’t quite thought through to complex problems.
Here’s just one example, on 2/16/2021 a transgender Twitter user named @autogynamelia tweeted the following:
“haha straight girls be like ‘MY PARTNER’ and the whole time it’s their boyfri — ” YES! THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT! IF EVERYONE SAYS “PARTNER” THEN THAT NORMALIZES IT! OTHERWISE SAYING “PARTNER” IS JUST A BRIGHT NEON SIGN THAT READS “I’M QUEER”! HOW IS THIS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND?!
For the record, looking through the Twitter account of this person you can find her with many “bright neon signs that read ‘I’m queer,’” including transgender hoodies, shirts, and dice so I have no idea why she of all people has come out against the idea. For that better “big neon signs” have been a staple of the LGBT community for decades on end — just look at your average pride parade if you don’t believe — so, again, I have no idea why this person of all people is making fun of the idea.
However, let’s talk about the implication here, that everyone needs gender confirmation and affirmation, except for binary people. Because, while saying “partner” instead of “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” is gender-neutral, that means it fails to affirm the gender of the person being talked about. Speaking as a cisgender man, if I date someone I’m not their “partner” I’m their “boyfriend.” Saying “partner” just sounds impersonal and formal, like you’re talking about someone you’re going into business with and not someone you’re in a relationship with. And if I were someone questioning my gender identity, I would prefer the person I’m dating call me what I identify as and not as some gender-neutral term that sounds like we’re working together on a school project.
And of course, this is not just limited to issues of gender. During the Black Lives Matter protests in Summer 2020, many White voice actors who played Black characters stepped down, feeling that only Black people should get to play those roles. Of course, Black people were protesting for police reform above all else and instead, they got one less Black person on an animated television show.
Meanwhile, a Reddit user came up with a solution to all systemic racism:
The black community has suffered more than enough. We, as Funko POP owners, need to stand with them and DEMAND that Funko honors the lives of black victims of police brutality by making a George Floyd Funko POP. We need to tell the world to take a stand against anti-black racism, and there would be no better way to do so than buying a George Floyd Funko POP. Will you take a stand and join me?
This idea was quickly mocked all across the internet, even becoming a copypasta for a brief period of time, as well as the poster child for nonsense solutions that don’t actually solve anything.
Of course, doing this would do nothing to further the goal of police reform, but furthering the goal is not the point. Instead, the point is to virtue signal, to waste your time, and to make an attempt to look progressive and in support of whatever social movement is popular in the process. The people in question are usually not bad people, but well-meaning ones who have not thought through what it is they’re saying or who simply want simple solutions to complex problems.
Truth be told, the reason these solutions gain traction is because they’re easy. It’s easy to create a new word and say “this includes everyone,” or to make a minor change to what you call your partner, or to buy a George Floyd Funko POP. Actual activism — changing society in a meaningful way — takes work, and that’s work many people are simply not willing to do. Actually advocating for marginalized groups takes effort, the changing one letter in the word “woman” does not.
But what do I know, I’m just some cisgender mxn.