FIVE APPENDICES to About Mx, with Miss, Mrs, Mr, Ms, and they, by Margaret D. Jones

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Mix Margaret Dylan Jones

W.A. composer, pianist, teacher, article writer


About Mx, with Miss, Mrs, Mr, Ms,

and the singular they


Five appendices to the main article

by Margaret Dylan Jones

November 15, 2015. Last update: December 6, 2015 at 10 am


Navigation in these appendices

Click on a heading to jump to that section, or simply scroll down. Click on Top to come back here.

Appendix One: Rough definitions
Appendix Two: Documentation of real Mx usage from 2002 onwards
Appendix Three: 1977, 1982, Mx in fiction and the Usenet
Appendix Four: Issues for form makers
Appendix Five: Resources for allies

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Headings in the main article (opens in a separate page):
Introduction
Aims of this article
Navigation in this article
What is your gender anyway?
About my rough definitions
The origins of Mx, and who has been using it
What are titles for?
The exclusivity of titles
People who have no gender
My long and successful use of Mx
Benefits, and what other users say
Theory versus practice
Transsexual men and women: Mr and Mrs
1977, 1982: Nothing to see here, move along folks

Is Mx subversive, revolutionary, or evolutionary?

Plurals

Personal pronouns: the singular they

The advantages of Mx and Mix

Appearances are not deceiving, except when they are

Mx is not a panacea—regrettable mistakes
A case of mistaken identities?
The genderless agenda

How to avoid stating your gender without using Mx

How to address someone when you don't know their gender, without using Mx

Why supporters should not use Mx
What allies can do
More consequences of random use
Mx in dictionaries
Is Mx gender-neutral?
Organisations accepting Mx
Form makers and designers
Summary
Conclusion
Acknowledgements
Links
Media Style Guides
Call out to others using Mx or Mix


Appendix One: Rough definitions

An overview of the gender terms as I have used them in this article.

Cisgender man
, cisgender woman, cisgender person: a person who has grown up identifying perfectly well with the gender or sex they were born (and with only that one). Most people are cisgender so this probably refers to you. If it's a new term to you, don't fret about it, it just means a person who is not transgender and not transsexual. Cisgender is pronounced siss-gender and comes from Latin, where cis- means 'on this side of.'

Transsexual person: someone who has a gender identity of man or woman, but was born with a body that has the opposite anatomy. It's a generalisation, but they seem to have exclusively male or exclusively female identities. Many have changed, or would like to change, their body to be physically the opposite sex to the way they were born so that their body matches their innate gender identity (how they think of themself). A transman was born with a female body and a transwoman was born with a male body, though to the best of my knowledge most such people prefer to be simply known as men or women, respectively. Some individuals might not be able, or might not even want, to change their bodies by very much, but I believe they identify exclusively as men or women, not as mixtures.

Transgender person: someone whose innate gender identity is not exclusively male or female. They might identify as a mixture of male and female, or as not having a gender at all. Or their gender identity might change from time to time between various genders, having no gender, or having a gender mix. Some transgender people change their bodies in ways that are similar to transsexual people. Transgender is often used as an even wider umbrella term to include transsexual people and others, or simply to include people identifying as any gender other than the one they were thought to be or were assigned when they were born, but that's not how I use it here—for this article I'm using it in a more narrow way where it does not include transsexual people. In this article transgender means non-binary transgender.

Intersex person: a person born with reproductive organs, genitalia and/or sex chromosomes that are not exclusively male or female. (Based on IFAS, 2002, modified.) Most intersex people are not transgender. That is, most intersex people have a gender identity which is exclusively male or exclusively female (just like most people in society at large).

Androgyne (noun): a person whose gender identity is not exclusively male or female and who may or may not also be intersex. (Based on
IFAS, 2002, modified.) An androgyne is a type of transgender person who might or might not also be intersex. Androgyne comes from ancient Greek and Latin, where andr- means man and gyné- means woman. The modern word refers to how a person thinks of themself, it's a type of gender identity. I'm an androgyne. See more about androgynes below.

Agender people: individuals who identify as genderless or have a non-gender identity. That is, they do not feel masculine or feminine, and they do not feel like a mixture of masculine and feminine. Some are comfortable being included under the umbrella term of transgender, and some are not.

The gender binary: the ridiculous twentieth century Western notion that all people are necessarily either masculine or feminine, and male or female. Fortunately, this misconception is fading fast.

Non-binary gender: a gender identity which is not exclusively masculine or feminine. This could refer to transgender and agender individuals, or androgynes, for example.

All these terms refer to people but you can't define people very well, so they are always going to be very loose approximations that are used for convenience. I've tried to keep them to the bare minimum in number.


More about androgynes

Generally speaking, it is incorrect to describe an androgyne as androgynous, and most androgynes do not like to be so described. That adjective is informed by the notion of the gender binary and means androgynous man or androgynous woman. It implies a type of fashion or style. We don't consider ourselves exclusively masculine or feminine, or we are both men and women. Androgyne means a person who has a gender identity of androgyne, it does not refer to their appearance or gender expression. A person who looks androgynous might or might not be an androgyne, and an androgyne might or might not look androgynous (they may look like a man or a woman).

The androgynous look is just that—it's the way some people choose to look, as a fashion statement. A person with an androgynous look might or might not be an androgyne as their gender identity may have nothing to do with their apprearance.

Androgyne is sometimes misspelt androgen, which is unfortunate because that's a medical word with a rather different meaning. A
ndrogen and androgenous mean something like 'masculine' or 'masculinized,' as androgen refers to a group of masculinizing hormones which includes testosterone. This misspelling, or misuse of the word androgen can cause confusion with the term Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), a form of intersex variation.

Androgyne
has nothing to do with asexual.

Androgyne does not mean ambiguous—let's be clear on that!

Androgyne DOES mean combination of male and female, or masculine and feminine. Some androgynes find they ARE masculine at times, or feminine, or a mixture, or genderless. The word to use for someone like myself is androgyne, a noun.

For more about this see:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/androgenous
androgenous (adj) 1. (Biology) biology producing only male offspring.
androgenous (adj) pertaining to the production of or tending to produce male offspring.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend: Adj. 1.
androgenous - of or related to androgenesis
androgenetic
See http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=androgenous for corrections to incorrect use of androgenous (the first definition by i_am_redgirl August 20, 2007, is in error; scroll down to the corrections).
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/androgenous
Appendix Two: Documentation of real Mx usage from 2002 onwards

Some of the many documents I have kept which show Mx used as a title for myself.

These early formal records are letters from my medical specialist to my doctor, from one of my sheet music publishers, a phone bill, an electricity bill, and statements from BankCard, AMEX, Medicare, the tax office and others. See scans of all these at mixmargaret.com/Mx-title-scans-of-usage-from-2002-onwards.html (new window).

2002 September 26, MX JONES, ATO tax return sent form.

2002 December 7, RE: MX MARGARET JONES, and Cc Mx Margaret Jones. Patient copy of a letter from my medical specialist to my GP.

2003 January 24, Mx Margaret Jones, letter from Allans Music (then the largest Australian sheet music publisher), about copyright and royalties.

2003 February 21, MX MD JONES, Telstra telephone bill.

2003 March 18, MX M D JONES, Western Power electricity bill.

2003 April, MX MARGARET D JONES, CBA bankcard statement.

2004 July, Mx Margaret D Jones, AMEX letter about changes to credit card conditions.

2004 December 6, MX M JONES, Medicare Statement of Benefit.

2005 January 8, MX MARGARET D JONES, ATO (tax office) statement.
Appendix Three: 1977, 1982, Mx in fiction and the Usenet

A short story or article by fiction writer Pat Kite, published in 1977, seems to be the earliest use of Mx in print. It’s in The Single Parent magazine, volume 20, April 1977, in an article called Single-Again Scrapbook.
See scans of it at http://books.google.co.uk

A man and a woman
are at a party having a conversation about gendered titles. The woman says:

“… Anyhow, if Mrs. and Miss are to be shortened to Ms., then I think Mister and Master should be changed to Muster ... abbreviated to Mu. On second thought, maybe both sexes should be called Mx.  That would solve the gender problem entirely.”

Methinks calling everyone, or 'both' sexes Mx would not solve any problem at all. And I don’t know if Pat Kite thought so, either. This is, after all, spoken by a fictitious character.

The next appearance of Mx may have been in twentieth century Usenet conversations. In my searches of online records I found only a handful of mentions, among a small number of very brief and superficial discussions of gender titles.

Because of privacy concerns I’m leaving out identifying info. The originals are available at Google Groups.

I begin with Bruce, on July 9, 1982:

Discussions of how language ought to be are interesting, but standard  usage is  the real authority.

I second that, Bruce!

On the same date Alice wrote:

How did we get into the mode that there is some implicit agreement that we all want to "eliminate the gender discrimination"?

I have some pretty strongly held gender preferences - mebbe I should enjoy the company ov men as much and in the same way as women, but I don't - vive la difference.
Not sure if I would second all of that, maybe it needed a bit of nuancing.

Now we come to something of note, what is possibly the first documentary evidence of a person using Mx as a title for themself, though they may have only done it just this once and not at all in the real world outside of the internet. July 11, 1982:

while we're at it, let's get rid of all this Miss/Mrs/Mr/Ms crap. It wasn't much of a step to go from Miss/Mrs to Ms; after all, the issue should be that gender is unimportant.  How about one generic title for everyone?  For instance, M. Smith, M. Jones. But that's flawed, it might be confused with Monsieur, a blatantly sexist word.  From now on, we should all go by Mx, pronounced "mix" or "mux."  This will make the world safe for democracy by concealing our genders from the sexist element.

Mx. John E…….

Oh dear. Gender is unimportant, and we’re all going to be called Mix. Or Mucks. At least John has managed to hide his gender from us. Not.

This reminds me of toddlers who hide their face, exclaiming “You can’t see me.” I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that.

Is this single Usenet post from more than thirty years ago the inspiration for agender advocates suggesting in 2015 that Mx is for everyone? It could not be any sort of justification.

On January 30, 1985, referencing the nuclear MX intercontinental ballistic missile then in development, Mrs G wrote:

I got one netter's intesting suggestin that the all purpose honorific should be Mx.  (I think it's nice to use the algebraic "x" for unknown.  Very elegant.)

Then my husband ... suggested it would be more in keeping with the spirit of UNIX to write it as M*.

(And besides that way there's less chance of fallout from missile makers.)

I briefly wondered if M* might satisfy those who want a non-title title. A word that isn’t a word should be unpronounceable, just like M*, yes? But no, there are problems using ‘reserved characters’ like ' * ' in the modern world of computers. And, in any case, a pronunciation for M* would soon develop (as the next Usenet post, below, suggests).

If Mrs G had wanted to hide her gender, far more than merely using a non-title she would also have to double-check everything she wrote to make sure there were no gender clues. Her husband would have to go, for a start. (At least in the 1980s).

A week after that, on February 8, 1985, Ken said:
I'm afraid, neither one of these would really be non-sexist.  "Mx" would invariably evolve to the point where it would be pronounced "missile", and would thereby sound too much like the feminine "miss".  Similarly, M* would be pronounced "masterisk", with obviously masculine implications.

Mx, of course, will not become ‘missile,’ but I can already hear M* as ‘masterisk’ in my inner ear.

Scott piped in another week later on February 16, 1985 with:

No,no,no - the proper UNIX form would be "M?". Has a nice, ambiguous look to it, doesn't it?

But ‘?’ is also a reserved character in computer land.

The next mention of Mx came in 1998, on October 19, when Gnome 11 had a slightly better idea:

Occasionally I have used the title ‘Mx’ before my name, with the idea that it leaves in question whether I’m a woman or a man or somethinng in between and gives no idea of my maritial status.

At least they acknowledge there could be a gender (and/or anatomical sex, meaning intersex) which is ‘in between.’ Note that I’ve called Gnome 11 ‘they.’ It’s better than he or she because they might not be a he or a she.

Two months later, on December 9, 1998, Ravan wrote:

I, for one, would like to see something like Mx.  Mister, Missus, Miss, and Mizz all rolled into one M(i)x.  Mx. Asteris, Mx. S. Robinson, Mx. J. Marshall, etc.  You get the idea.

That’s an interesting take on the spelling of Mix, where the middle letter is inherited from Mister, Missus, Mizz. It’s almost genetic, or evolutionary.
Ravan’s post was in response to one by Jacque:

And while we're on the subject of female honorifics, I have to say that it annoys me no end to be required to declare my gender. Even in totally irrelevant contexts, like magazine subscriptions. At LEAST now they have Ms, so you don't have to declare your marital status, too.

(And there's no good smart-ass response, like there is for race or sex.) I mean, for heaven's sake, why does National Geographic care… ?

Hmph, I say.

Well, exactly. I don’t know what their website had in 1998, but, strictly speaking, the current National Geographic subscription page doesn’t always require your gender, because who knows what gender may hide behind ‘Dr’ or ‘Rt. Hon?’

Seriously though, the only other choices in their pull-down menu are still just Mr, Mrs, Ms, and Miss (November 2015). Nothing else, no ‘Other,’ no ‘No title.’ They need some advice.

But note that you are then encouraged to provide your first name, which for most people is gendered, so even if they had ‘Other’ and ‘No title’ most people’s gender would still be obvious. National Geographic need to add these two, plus Mx, not for concealing gender, but for the purpose of allowing transgender and agender people, and people of a non-English speaking background, to subscribe honestly.

On to Paul in 2001, who suggested on February 8 that Mx could be the title for, I think, a Star Trek character who in his opinion is a androgyne:

Snarky's an androgyne, remember? And "Mr." is only for males. S/he should be "Mx. Long-sig"...

"Snarky is too much of a Ferengi in a wheelbarrow…

I’m not sure if I like the association of androgyne with the Ferengi, but then you don’t get to choose your neighbours, either.

Mx Snarky would be Mr Bloggsnovich’s distant (very distant) cousin—because they’re both fictitious. Or perhaps there really is a person with the name or nickname of Snarky.

The following year, 2002, I heard about a real person in Australia, someone who was both transgender and intersex, who was using Mx, and so I began using it.

Until I began preparing this article I’d never heard of these Usenet posts, nor the magazine article, but that was no great impediment as these are hardly in-depth or meaningful discussions.

Could the misguided advice that Mx is for everyone have stemmed from a few of these Usenet posts? They can’t seriously be taken to have any prescriptive value for how Mx should or could be used. Apart from the single example of Gnome 11, they do not show Mx being used effectively, or even ineffectively, for any purpose at all, at any time. Their value is purely academic.

There may have been other appearances of Mx in the early internet but they were probably similar to these, and thus of very limited interest. So move along folks, there’s nothing much to see here.

Appendix Four: Issues for form makers

If you are designing an online or hardcopy form please carefully consider how to make it easier for your customers to avoid making mistakes. I offer these possibilities for your consideration.

I suggest that these three: Mx, No title, and Other, should always appear together along with the usual titles.

Mx: people may wonder about this, but if they don't know it they're unlikely to use it as long as they can choose one of the other two options;

No title: for cisgender people, and indeed anyone, who doesn't want to reveal their gender for whatever reason; and

Other: because many transgender people will not want to use the two above, and individuals from non English-speaking backgrounds may not want to use the traditional English titles.

There may be some point in being able to decline providing gender markers, to minimise gender-based discrimination. Many individuals want to do this even though this method may not be effective in concealing their gender.

Including Mx and Other but omitting No title, could mean that transgender people feel they're unable to avoid stating their gender, because while Mx means transgender, Other is often taken to mean something broadly similar, or agender. Or, at least, these sorts of people have been using Other for a long time.

Including Mx and No title but omitting Other, may present problems to some agender people, and cisgender people from non English-speaking backgrounds. The latter may also find it confusing and choose Mx, thinking of the ‘x’ as a wildcard.

Perhaps Mx could be used in pull-down menus and radio button lists as Mx (Mix), Mix (Mx) or Mx/Mix. Or simply as Mix.

In short, please don't use Mx without BOTH of the other two options otherwise some of your customers are likely to make mistakes or feel pressured into making an inappropriate choice.

It may be advisable to add brief instructions or descriptions for users to avoid confusion. A pop-up menu could have something like one of these:

Mx or Mix is a non-binary transgender title
Mx is for non-binary transgender people
Mx indicates non-binary transgender
A non-binary transgender title

Avoid using the term 'gender-neutral' as this is easily misunderstood as meaning unspecified or indeterminate, which is not what Mx means. Avoid 'agender' for the same reason.

Perhaps also a link or reciprocal link to a heading in the main document or an appendix?
As one of the most important reasons for recording a person’s common title is to determine which pronouns to use, perhaps forms could have a new section giving a choice of pronouns. So, in addition to a choice of titles, we also get a choice like this:

Tick one [i.e. one line]:

he, his, him
she, her, her
they, their, them
Other: (type in the boxes, three of them)
This could be accompanied by this anchor link to "Personal pronouns: the singular they:" http://www.mixmargaret.com/about-mx-with-miss-mrs-mr-ms-and-the-singular-they.html#Personal_pronouns

The ability to specify pronouns would prevent a lot of the misgendering which currently happens, especially in regard to non English-speaking customers.

As time goes by it is likely this section on form design will be updated several times. It will be fine-tuned after more feedback and may include examples of old and improved forms, so come back often or keep in touch.
See my blog for ongoing developments (opens in a new window): http://mixmargaret.com/blog/category/trans-androgyne Appendix Five: Resources for allies

Our many allies, whether cisgender or otherwise, can help promote the appropriate use of Mx in many ways, especially by sharing and writing about this article and the previous one (see the share buttons at the end or use anchor links, described below).

Share with these people, especially if you know them personally:

  • Opinion makers, article writers, article reviewers
  • Politicians, prominent people
  • Legislation and regulation drafters in the public service
  • CEOs of companies big and small (ask them to pass it on to their ‘people’)
  • Web page designers
  • Systems designers
  • Organisations which have forms for people to use when joining
  • Behind-the-scenes office staff involved in HR/recruitment
  • Official change implementers
  • Local government community development officers
  • Social workers
  • Community organisations
  • Dictionaries, database writers
  • Cisgender friends
  • Transgender friends
  • Your best friend, and just about anyone you know at all, really

But please avoid spamming or sending junk mail. Stick to people you already have correspondence with, or who know you well. Don’t do mass emails—that’s important.

Tell your friends or acquaintances a couple of things you particularly liked about this information, what really struck you, what seemed new or especially important. See if you can relate it to what is happening in your friend’s organisation or their field of endeavour.

Suggest this article to reviewers at magazines, newspapers and online sites (especially in the mainstream media, because it’s as much about cisgender organisations as it is about transgender people). Write about it on your blog, with short quotes and links to the article. If you’re going to discuss it please make sure you know the subject well by reading and absorbing the whole article first. You don’t want to get egg on your face.

Tell your friends to “Put the kettle on,” or say “Long, but it’s a great read, I couldn’t put it down,” or “So full of interesting info, different things and angles I’d never thought of before.”

Find many other ways of using this document as a resource (see the Creative Commons licence).

Send or use the URL (link) of this article along with your own comments in email, Facebook, Twitter etc. (or use the Share buttons).

Or, instead of just the main link, you can combine it with one or more ‘anchor links’ (also known as ‘jump to links’), if you know how to make these. When your friends click on one of these they are shown the page at the position of a heading.
For example, this anchor link (in one long line)
"http://www.mixmargaret.com/about-mx-with-miss-mrs-mr-ms-and-
the-singular-they.html#1977_1982:_Nothing_to_see_here"
brings them to the section headed “1977, 1982: Nothing to see here, move along folks
It’s like getting a book delivered to your friend’s door already open at the chapter you really want them to read first.

To find these anchor links do a right click on your chosen heading where you see it in the  NAVIGATION  SECTION. Select ‘Copy this link,’ and then paste the link in your email or Facebook message etc. using another right click.

Don’t forget to test your links before you send them to your friends.

Share this information in any English-speaking country, and places (such as India) where English may only be a government language or only one of several official languages.

I plan to make a PDF version. This will have the whole document in one computer file, with all the graphics and links. Also, a hardcopy booklet will be published through Hovea Music Press, which will be available at this page where I sell my music: mixmargaret.com/shopify-links-for-mdj.html

More ideas for sharing:

And keep in touch with myself or other transgender advocates.

There is no point engaging in heated debates with those who are not willing to at least listen. Stick to people with open minds because you don’t need the aggravation.
Mx Margaret, supermarket staff 2006
Mx Margaret, as supermarket staffer in 2006
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About Mx, with Miss, Mrs, Mr, Ms, and the singular they (including appendices),
by Mx Margaret Dylan Jones,
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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