At the foundation of ELLA as an organisation, we have made it our mandate to create a platform that echoes the lived experiences of the queer community all over, especially women and nonbinary people. This platform exists for them to share their realities, express their identities and grow a network of people around the world who are just like them. At ELLA, our aim is to amplify the voices within the community, building safe spaces and raising awareness on what it means to be queer in our world today. In order to adequately amplify others, it automatically becomes our duty to listen to them when they speak. Irrespective of the growing knowledge of the presence of queer people as it stands presently, the queer community remains marginalised…almost to the point of erasure.
We made it our mission (and it remains our mission!) to promote the visibility of these marginalised individuals harnessing technology and the spirit of community on a global scale. And one unifying factor that our organisation is powered by is language; our diversity demands the implementation of a language that gives every identity and personality within the community confidence in who they are. With how quickly the world is evolving, it is our responsibility to stay tuned to the new thought processes, technology, education and ways of living as they emerge. Therefore, when concerns surrounding language arise, ELLA as an organisation listens and takes the necessary steps to address these growing concerns.
It is for these reasons, that we wish to acknowledge a recent mistake we made. We used the term “womxn” in our public communications, assuming it could be applied as a blanket term for cis women, trans women and nonbinary folks. You reached out; you spoke to us about it, and we have heard you.
Here at ELLA, we know it’s not always about the mistakes you make, but what you do with them. We listened and utilized your feedback to propel ourselves into a new journey of learning. We recognize that “womxn” was coined in the 1970s by women of color because conversations around “womanhood” were (and still are) often whitewashed. Womxn can serve as a way to reclaim the idea of womanhood as inclusive and intersectional and today some women, particularly Black women, Indigenous women, and women of color, still identify with the word.
We acknowledge and respect that womxn is a valid and important term for some, and while some nonbinary people may identify with the term, many others do not and their gender identity should not be erased by including them under an umbrella without their consent. If a word makes you feel represented, use it. We have your back. But we understand now that it wasn’t consensual when we used the word womxn to speak about women and nonbinary people as a whole. So, because your voices are our voice, we made changes.
At ELLA, we envision a future where queer women and nonbinary people feel empowered to drive change and obtain full equality and acceptance in societies where discrimination against them still prevails.
As a commitment to building toward that future we will make language updates across all platforms and documents and conduct staff trainings on nonbinary identities.
Language is changing, and we believe it’s for the better. We, the community, are the authors of our own languages, and those languages shape and reflect how we conceptualize the world around us.
We became ELLA to amplify the voices of queer women and nonbinary people, to act as a bridge that connects these voices from around the globe to make them louder, to take them further.
Language is our creation. It is up to us to make it collective, representative, and inclusive. It is a living organism like us. Language will never stop evolving, and neither will we.