ERASURE: Language

Green Party Women betraying women

People generally don’t like language being changed and attempts to do so are always likely to be met with disdain or ridicule as a knee-jerk reaction. This happens even when the proposed changes are clearly progressive is in the case of replacing Miss/Mrs with Ms or Chairman with Chair.

Disdain and ridicule are even more likely responses when proposed changes are patently disdainful and ridiculous as is the case with much of what is called “trans inclusive” language, most of which might also reasonably called “woman erasing” language. I originally intended to have just one page with a few examples but it got a bit crowded so I’ve divided the material up into categories and given them a page each.


Other pages on language on this site:



cis, trans and pronouns


Links to external articles

Trans English is the new common tongue Spectator USA 19.07.19

“The English language is under threat, and with it our reality. This linguistic devastation began with men who imagine themselves to be women, and want everyone else to think of them that way too.”


School pupils in Brighton get badges saying if they prefer to be called ‘she, he or they’ with the slogan ‘gender is a spectrum’ in bid to help transgender children Mail 02.04.19

“Schools in Brighton are giving their pupils badges that say which pronoun they prefer to be called to help transgender children.

Secondary school pupils across Brighton and Hove are being handed the badges as part of the council’s ‘My Pronouns are…’ scheme that aims to promote trans inclusion and prevent ‘misgendering’.”


Ontological Totalitarianism by Numbers Jane Clare Jones 08.12.18

“Human beings have a right to freedom of conscience and belief.
Human beings have a right to their own perceptions.
Humans beings have a right to speak in a manner which expresses their own conscience, belief and perceptions – providing that speech is not an incitement to violence against another person.
The only pronouns one can prescribe to oneself, ethically, are ‘I’ and ‘me.’
Third person pronouns are granted to you by another person.”


West Point High teacher fired following transgender controversy  NBC12 06.12.18

“Tolerance is a two-way street,” said Shawn Voyles, Vlaming’s attorney. “My client respects this student’s rights; he is simply asking that his rights be respected as well… The student is absolutely free to identify as the student pleases. The school board adopted one viewpoint and required Mr. Vlaming, at the cost of his job, to repeat that ideology, repeat that viewpoint. That’s where it’s compelled speech. That’s where it violates his First Amendment right he still retains as a public employee.”


Goldsmiths students replace the word ‘women’ with ‘WOMXN’ Mail 26.11.18

“University students are refusing to use the words ‘woman’ and ‘women’ because they have been deemed ‘offensive’ and include the word ‘man’. Instead, members of the female sex are being referred to as ‘womxn’ by students at both Goldsmiths, University of London and Kings College London.

At Goldsmiths, the Students Union has ceased to use the words women and woman in  its publications, since ‘womxn’ has been deemed more ‘inclusive’ of all students, including those who identify as transgender.”


I am not a walking cervix or a menstruator. I am a W‑O‑M‑A‑N The Times 31.10.18

“All of this tiptoeing around the “woman” and desire for inclusivity is done so as not to offend transgender people. As such, the term “womxn” is used because it supposedly includes trans-women in its definition; while any reference to the medical needs of women must be altered to ensure trans-men, who may have the same medical needs, do not feel offended.”


If transwomen are women, what is a woman? Sophie Allen 16.08.18

“In brief, if we say that being a woman has nothing to do with having female biology, as is required by accepting that transwomen are women, then there are three unattractive options: (1) being a woman is essentially tied to traditional social stereotypes of what being a woman involves; (2) there is no difference between women or men, or a large number of people are both or neither; or, (3) it is impossible to tell whether someone is a woman or not.”


BBC staff told to use non‑binary pronouns Times 13.10.18

“BBC staff have been told to use non- binary pronouns when addressing gender-fluid or transgender employees to ensure that the corporation does not develop a “heteronormative culture”.”


‘Womxn’ row as companies worry the word ‘women’ excludes transgender people Telegraph 10.10.18

“Companies have come under fire for using the word “womxn” instead of “woman,” after worrying the latter word excludes transgender people.

Feminists have argued that it is biological women who are being excluded by the newly popular word, and that no one calls men “mxn.”

The Wellcome Collection apologised on Wednesday after being criticised for using the word to describe women and non-gender-conforming people in promotional material for its new exhibition “daylighting”, a piece of artwork that “explores the presence of womxn through their art, thinking and speculations”.”


Diluting the meaning of ‘woman,’ to appease transgender activists, is misogyny Barbara Kay, National Post 13.09.18

“For those who follow gender politics, vocabulary manipulation by ideologues is one of the biggest cultural stories of our time. No ideologues make more aggressive use of this strategy than radical male-to-female transactivists. They can be ruthless in mobbing anyone who dares to resist their linguistic hegemony.”


Altrincham Grammar School for Girls ban on calling pupils ‘girls’ – because it’s hurtful to transgender people Manchester Evening News

“It is understood the 1,350-pupil school has no plans to drop the term ‘girls’ from its name. The principal’s letter read: “We have moved to using gender neutral language in all our communications with students and parents. We know that for many transgender students being misgendered can be very hurtful.”
Yet the move has been met with some hostility from parents of youngsters at the school. The change was branded ‘potty’ by one parent who said they thought the letter was a ‘joke’ when it arrived. One parent, who asked not to be named, said they were left stunned by the policy change. “When I opened the letter I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not”, they said.”


Why I decided to stop using the term “transwoman” La Scapigliata 25.04.18

“Evidently, gender-critical women aren’t paranoid fantasists or pearl-clutching prudes, as handmaidens and misogynists like to claim. They are regular women waking up to a dystopian nightmare where any man can call himself a “transwoman” and get the state to help him victimise vulnerable women and girls. This abusive male logic is masquerading as “trans activism” and it is only a matter of time before it spreads to all spheres of life, at which point the rights of women will be lost.”


Breastfeeding is not a neutral act Full cream web blog 03.11.17

“I have become increasingly disturbed to watch the language of birth and breastfeeding support become a battleground in the name of inclusivity – specifically, the inclusion of individuals and families who identify as transgender or non-binary. More and more frequently, breastfeeding supporters and activists who use the term ‘mother’ are slapped on the wrist for doing so, on the basis that it is a gendered term which excludes those who do not identify as mothers. Similarly, ‘breastfeeding’ excludes people who don’t think of their milky bits as female or breasts. Instead, we should be using the ‘preferred terms’ of lactating parent. Human milk. Chestfeeding (or even just ‘feeding’).”


College lists ‘ne,’ ‘ve,’ ‘ey’ as gender neutral pronouns Campus Reform (American conservative site) 01.03.18

“The guide was first discovered by Francis Hayes, a freshman studying computer science at Kennesaw State, who told Campus Reform that the pamphlet was distributed Tuesday by administrators in the school’s Student Center.

“It is a disgrace, because I thought that my school was one of the few schools left that weren’t teaching these things. But when I found this, I felt really disappointed,” he told Campus Reform. “Why is this university entertaining something as useless as this?””


Head of top single-sex school says she only uses ‘pupils’ to describe youngsters so not to hurt feelings of any considering changing sex Daily Mail 24.09.17

“The headmistress of one of the country’s most prestigious girls’ schools says she has stopped calling her pupils ‘girls’ in a bid not to alienate transgender pupils. James Allen’s Girls’ School’s head teacher Sally-Anne Huang says she now refers only to ‘pupils’ and not ‘girls’, as well as replacing the pronoun ‘she’ to ‘they’.”


How do you define ‘man’ and ‘woman’? Andy Lewis 04.06.18

“The website @RationalWiki challenged me to ‘be smarter’ over this and pointed me at their article on the word ‘TERF’. I replied that my stumbling block was that I could think of no definition of the word ‘woman’ where their article made sense. I asked them to define the word ‘woman’. They have declined to do so. But, I am happy to change my mind should anyone be able to offer a robust definition of the word ‘man’ or ‘woman’ that satisfies a few conditions of rigour.”


Like A Thief In The Night: The Scottish Bill That Stole The Word Woman Fair Play for Women 21.03.18

“The purpose of this bill was admirable. It was to help women overcome the institutional sexism we suffer due to our sex. Positive action to redress the imbalances that have arisen from centuries of historical disadvantage. It was to acknowledge the reality that institutionalised inequality and sexist attitudes stop most women from reaching their full potential in public life. Financial barriers, income inequality, the gender pay gap, sexist attitudes, gender stereotyping, women’s disproportionate share of caring responsibilities, the undervaluing of women’s paid work, and media portrayals of women, to name but a few influences, all play a role in the sexism that prevents a fair number of women being involved in public life.

But in a cruel twist of irony it was also to be the perfect trojan horse to steal the very meaning of the words woman and female from us.”


Midwives rail against proposal to call women persons in new code of conduct Adelaide Now 23.11.17

“WHEN a person’s waters break and that “person” goes into labour, we’ve gone too far.

That sums up the position of Australia’s midwives, who have had to fight to get “woman”, rather than “person”, into their new code of conduct. The Nursing and Midwifery Board took the nation’s 30,000 midwives by surprise when it drafted the new code and replaced references to “woman-centred care” with “person-centred care”. The Board invited submissions on the draft code and they flooded in, from the profession, academics and individuals.”


No, Teen Vogue, the backlash to your anal sex article was not rooted in homophobia  Meghan Murphy 20.07.17

“The problem is that the article included a glaring anatomical error, failed to address any of the larger contexts surrounding anal sex and women (namely, patriarchy), and completely erased women from the conversation. Literally. Neither the word “woman” or the word “female” appear once in the entire article.”


Open letter to MANA 

“We believe that it is a mistake to define the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth though the lens of gender identity. The very few gender-identified males that have given birth or accessed an abortion have only done so because they are female-bodied people, and that scientific fact cannot be erased. We are allowing gender identity to be the primary way that we refer to one another, even for a biological process like birth. Pregnancy and birth are distinctly female biological acts; only women and female-bodied people can give birth.”


The amazing disappearing ‘women’ Deb UK

Once upon a time, complaining that feminism focused on women would have seemed as odd as complaining that a baker’s shop sold bread. But what’s behind it is the belief that the old feminist goal–liberating women from the oppressive structures of patriarchy–has become outdated and politically reactionary. What feminism should be about in the 21st century is freeing individuals from the oppressive constraints of binary gender.


The Problem That Has No Name because “Woman” is too Essentialist Claire Heuchan

“Without proud and open use of word woman, feminist politics lack the scope to mount anyradfem-symbol real resistance to women’s subordination. You cannot liberate a class of people that may not even be named. Womanhood is devalued by these insidious attempts to render it invisible. If women do not consider ourselves worth the inconvenience caused by naming us directly, specifically, we can hardly argue that we are worth the difficulties that liberation must bring.”


The word ‘woman’ is being erased from public life Brendan O’Neill

“So feverish is the obsession with avoiding giving offence to trans people that society is now happy to lie to itself. Frontpage headlines declare, ‘MAN HAS BABY’ and ‘Baby joy of first British man to give birth’. Media outlets inform us that ‘Statistics reveal men have given birth to 54 babies in Australia’ and ‘Pregnant British man gives birth to daughter’. We know all of this is untrue. Don’t we? We know that no man, anywhere, has ever given birth. We know that’s impossible. What they really mean is that women who identify as men gave birth. But if you say that — if you say, ‘They must be women, because they gave birth’ — you will be branded transphobic. It is a hate crime to say men cannot get pregnant.”


The problem with talking about “pregnant people” Glosswitch

“The pregnant body is not an isolated, solipsistically self-defining object. It exists in time, within a specific social, historical and political context. One can argue over whether or not gender exists as an apolitical entity; whether to be a woman is to identify or be identified as one. Our most immediate challenge, however, concerns whether all pregnant individuals are seen as people, not whether all pregnant people are seen as women. In order to address this we need to talk about women as a class. Gender-neutral terms limit our ability to do this. Whatever our intentions, neutralising language is not a neutral act.”


Trans rights should not come at the cost of women’s fragile gains Sarah Ditum

“While organisations in the women’s sector have revised their language to avoid the word “women”, male-specific charities such as CALM (the Campaign against Living Miserably, a movement against male suicide) continue to refer uncomplicatedly to “men”. Women’s groups are aggressively picketed for being exclusionary; men’s clubs are left unmolested. ”



Last updated: 26.07.19