On Monday, the digital company kicked off Women’s History Month by spelling the word women with an “x” instead of an “e,” and launching an alliance that catered to this group – which has historically been underrepresented, according to Twitch and other industry insiders.
“March is Womxn’s History Month,” Twitch’s Twitter account posted on March 1 in a now deleted tweet. “Join us in celebrating and supporting all the Womxn creating their own worlds, building their communities, and leading the way on Twitch.”
Twitch, a leading live streaming service that’s popular with gamers and content creators, upset Twitter users when it spelled women as “womxn.” (Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
However, not all of Twitter agreed with the streaming company’s chosen spelling for cisgender and gender-nonconforming groups.
Some critics argued that the spelling undermined womanhood and the accomplishments of women throughout history.
Meanwhile, others deemed the spelling to be exclusive of transgender and intersex communities since the term is allegedly being used by trans-exclusive radical feminist (also known as “TERF“) groups. Other Twitter users argued the spelling forces people who identify as non-binary into a binary.
“Trans folks don’t need you to use ‘womxn’, because in fact, trans women are women and we don’t need a separate word to be included,” wrote Twitch partner Stefanie Luciana Peloza, in response to the company’s tweet. “What we need is protection from anti-trans hate on your platform, and invitations to be spotlighted like other female creators. Thanks!”
Twitch’s tweet comes four days after Nabisco’s OREO Cookie account tweeted out “Trans people exist.” The post generated more than 510,700 likes, 58,100 retweets and 34,700 quote tweets from users discussing gender identity.
Hours after the streaming platform shared its Womxn’s History Month post, Twitch responded to the feedback it had received on Twitter.
“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 wrote. “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.”
A similar step back was taken by nonprofit arts organization KEXP, which also used the controversial spelling and received critical feedback.
Despite the linguistic debate, tweets appear to show that not all see a problem with the spelling of womxn. Other companies and university groups are actively using the term to be inclusive like it was originally meant to be, according to Elizabeth Hunter-Keller, who has been credited with using the spelling first during the 2017 Womxn’s March on Seattle.
“Our organizing group is superdiverse, and one of the core organizers, who is a nonbinary person, proposed that we use the word ‘womxn’ to make sure that everyone felt included,” Hunter-Keller told The New York Times in 2019.