Hills Choir 30th anniversary concert & party

The Hills Choir Inc. celebrated their 30th anniversary with a lovely concert on 11 December 2016 and a private party a week later.

Jean Bourgault conducted the choir for her final performance (again). Next year the conductor’s role will be taken by the very talented local singer, Storme Reeves.

Sitting in the audience I was privileged to hear a string of wonderful performances by the choir and the long list of guest performers including the student percussion ensemble of Eastern Hills Senior High School in Mount Helena, Western Australia, where the concert was held.

There’s always a bit of nostalgia for me when I listen, play or sing in this wonderful and fairly new auditorium at EHSHS. In the 1970s I was a student there, doing years 8, 9 and 10 before heading ‘down the hill’ to Governor Stirling SHS to do my final two years before university. For years 11 and 12 I needed to change to Govo because Eastern Hills didn’t have a classroom music programme in those days, though in year 8 I did get six months of trumpet lessons in a demountable classroom with Sam Maher (a classmate for that, much better at trumpet than myself, was Phil Bourgault, one of Jean’s sons). Now the school has an amazing specialist music programme (largely developed I suspect by Maurice Bourgault, another son), with the student performers often participating in the choir’s concerts.

Jean Bourgault was the music teacher at the primary school next door. Her husband, Henri, taught me French in Year 8. Jean and Henri were classmates of my late father in teachers’ college (Dad was a mature age student) but I didn’t know this until a few years ago. Small town, Perth, eh?

Jean was never my teacher but I distinctly remember standing by the side of the road outside the schools showing her a small music theory book in which I’d written answers. She had a quick look at it and very politely and tactfully said “You ought to have a theory teacher.” This must have had quite an impact because I subsequently had a lot of theory teachers.

There’s no great review of the concert here from me, really just a few pics for posterity including the printed programme (zoom in to read it). More pics have been put up on a Facebook page.

At the party a week after the concert I had the opportunity to play a couple of original piano compositions which I completed earlier this year. Puck at Parkerville is a playful neo-baroque solo inspired by the mischievous character Puck from Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was produced in my childhood home, the Parkerville Amphitheatre, in the 1970s.

Rainbows Over Hovea is a moody but ultimately uplifting work inspired by the Jane Brook valley, particularly the lovely areas around the amphitheatre (which, despite its name, is in Hovea) and the John Forrest National Park. Both piano solos will be published soon.

20161211-64-toni-arndt-hills-choir72

Jean Bourgault conducting the Hills Choir. Eastern Hills Senior High School Auditorium, Mount Helena, Western Australia.

20161211-74-melissa-mikucki-bassoon-brandon-scherrer-pno72

Bassoonist Melissa Mikucki accompanied by Brandon Scherrer.

Hayley Ferris playing Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90, No. 4 (piano solo).

Hayley Ferris playing Schubert’s Impromptu Op. 90, No. 4 in A flat (piano solo).

Storme Reeves singing Have Yourself a Merry Christmas, with Alan Banks

Storme Reeves singing Have Yourself a Merry Christmas, with Alan Banks

Hills Choir concert programme for 11 December 2016.

Hills Choir concert programme for 11 December 2016.

Hills Choir concert programme for 11 December 2016, inside pages.

Hills Choir concert programme for 11 December 2016, inside pages.

Below are pics from the large end-of-year Christmas Party at a private residence in Glen Forrest, 17 December 2016. Many former choir members were able to attend.

Choir history display board One.

Choir history Display Board One.

Chloe Mauger and Display board Two, which she had a big hand in making.

Chloe Mauger and Display Board Two, which she had a big hand in making. I saw myself in some of the pics on this board.

The piano on which I played Puck at Parkerville and Rainbows Over Hovea, plus another Schubert Impromptu (No. 3 in G flat).

Me at the party, sitting at the piano on which I played Puck at Parkerville and Rainbows Over Hovea, plus another Schubert Impromptu (Op. 90 No. 3 in G flat).

For these pics and more see www.facebook.com/MixMargaretDylanJones

See the choir’s own website at www.hillschoir.org.au

Please feel free to make a comment here and/or on Facebook.

Trans talk at Wheatbelt Mental Health

It was a sign of the times that I was invited to give a talk about transgender issues to a group affiliated with WA Country Health Service.

For 80 minutes yesterday I presented an interactive talk to the Consumer Advocacy Group (CAG) within Wheatbelt Mental Health, in Northam.

Mx Margaret Jones & audience

Mx Margaret and the Consumer Advocacy Group at Bridgeley Community Centre, Northam

It is certainly appropriate for mental health workers, consumers and affiliated groups to have educational talks about transgender issues even though being transgender is not in itself a diagnosis of any mental health condition. It’s still important because trans people do suffer a greatly increased risk of mental illness including suicide attempts, depression, anxiety and other conditions mostly likely caused by social isolation, family rejection, employment & housing discrimination, bullying, frequent innuendo about not being genuine, and of course, gender dysphoria.

We covered many topics including changes in terminology over recent decades especially in relation to the terms transgender, transsexual (rarely used nowadays), intersex, and non-binary. We looked a little at pronouns including the singular they, and of course I told them all about Mx (or Mix), a non-binary transgender title.

Several people contributed very interesting and insightful questions, comments and anecdotes. Two were staff psychologists with WMH and I was really impressed at their already well-developed and fine-tuned understanding of many of the issues. I was picked-up for a slip of the tongue when I said ‘intersex condition’ instead of ‘intersex variation’ because most intersex people don’t have any sort of physical or mental illness directly related to being intersex and need no treatment (unless they have suffered from some unnecessary medical procedure). What a pleasant surprise that was.

Whenever I talk about trans issues I always bring up intersex stories because we can all learn so much from the intersex experience. For one thing this really puts the lie to the notion there are only men and women walking the earth, and their often shocking interaction with the medical establishment is instructive. Most in this group had not previously heard the word ‘intersex.’

I had handouts for them briefly covering many topics and I believe six pages of that will be scanned and put in their minutes. Yay!

It was so good to interact like this with these good folk and educate them further. We all agreed that the general public has been getting more and more on the same page with the transgender community despite the misinformed rantings of a vocal few.

Mx Margaret D. Jones

Mx Margaret D. Jones

Non-binary in Census 2016

The 2016 Australian Census was an obvious and very public debacle in several respects, but there was a positive side: it allowed non-binary and intersex people to be counted in a distinct way from male and female people.

2016 Australian census Q. 2

Q. 2: Non-binary transgender (Androgyne)

For the first time I was able to click a radio button for ‘Other’ in question two, instead of ‘Male’ or ‘Female.’ In the ‘please specify’ box I wrote: “Non-binary transgender (Androgyne).”

2016 Australian cenus feedback

Census feedback: Glad I didn’t have to lie.

This ‘Other’ option was only available in the online version if you requested a special login code for non-binary people.

2016 Australian census Q. 18

Q. 18: No religion

Another innovation was to put ‘No religion’ at the top of the options for religion in question 18. Apparently, the powers that be thought this would elicit a more accurate figure, and they may be right.

The improvement in the recording of non-binary status in the census is no doubt due to the advocacy and legal achievements of several gender pioneers in Australia over a long period of time, notably Alex MacFarlane, Norrie, and Tony Briffa. More recently Jamie Shupe has been succeeding in legal action in the USA.

Alex MacFarlane
In 2001 Alex, born many decades earlier in Victoria (Australia), was given a new birth certificate showing “Sex: Indeterminate also known as Intersex.

From en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_MacFarlane :

MacFarlane is believed to be the first person in Australia to obtain a birth certificate recording sex as indeterminate, and the first Australian passport with an ‘X’ sex marker in 2003.

Norrie
Also from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_MacFarlane :

[Norrie] became the first transsexual person in Australia to pursue a legal status of neither a man nor a woman, in 2010. That status was subjected to an appeal by the State of New South Wales. In April 2014 the Australian High Court ruled “that New South Wales laws do permit the registration of a category of sex other than male or female.” See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norrie_May-Welby

Tony Briffa
Also from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_MacFarlane :

Tony Briffa JP previously acknowledged as the world’s first openly intersex public official and mayor, states on Briffa’s website that “my birth certificate is silent as to my sex.” See also www.briffa.org

Jamie Shupe (USA)
www.themarysue.com/oregon-court-nonbinary/ (June 2016):

…an Oregon circuit court rules that resident Jamie Shupe could legally change their gender to nonbinary—the first U.S. court to do so.” See also transgender.wiki/jamie-shupe/

Like me Shupe uses Mx as a title, instead of Miss or Mr etc. Thus ‘Mx Jamie Shupe,’ and ‘Mx Shupe.’ I’ve been using Mx (pronounced ‘mix’), a non-binary transgender title, since 2002. See mixmargaret.com/about-mx-with-miss-mrs-mr-ms-and-the-singular-they.html

2016 Australian census Q. 36

Q. 36: Occupation: music teacher

If anyone in Australia has not yet done the census be aware it is compulsory and you can be fined. The deadline is 23 September, 2016. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) sent me this:

If you are using the online form and the responses of male and female do not apply to you, please take the following steps:
1. Call the Census Inquiry Service on 1300 214 531.
2. Ask for a Census Login for the special online form. You can receive your Login by SMS or email.
3. Use your new Census Login to complete your Census form at census.abs.gov.au

You could also ask the ABS if there is a special hardcopy form.

HSO concert at Midland Town Hall 20160703

OK, so they’re not the WASO or the Berlin Phil, but there is nothing like a real, live orchestra. A full house enjoyed the Hills Symphony Orchestra’s concert today, and so did I.

HSO at Midland Town Hall on 20160703

HSO at Midland Town Hall on 20160703

According to Facebook I must be in the 10% who’ve never seen Game of Thrones, but now I know some of the music, which was memorable enough as concert music.

Several items from Tchaikovsky ballets reminded me of why I like his music. From melodic elements which seem too simple, too basic, Tchaikovsky fashioned great music which never disappoints. Often made of simple scale fragments and sequences, his music still engages your attention and your emotions, which is similarly a quality of Beethoven’s music. Perhaps there is also magic in the chord progressions and modulations? (These relate to some of my own preoccupations as a composer.)

The King Kong film music seemed well-fashioned but I’m not sure I’ll remember it.

Hills Symphony Orchestra

Midland Town Hall

The amateur HSO is a precious jewel in the local scene. I hope they keep getting such big and appreciative audiences because they deserve it, they put on great concerts. See below for their links.

Mx Margaret Dylan Jones

Mx Margaret Dylan Jones

http://www.hso.org.au/concerts.html

www.facebook.com/HillsSymphonyOrchestra

All-Smalley concert at State Theatre

Since Roger passed away in August I’ve been to two concerts featuring his music (see near the end for the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra’s concert).

It was great to be in the audience last night (20160607) for a Tura concert consisting entirely of music by my mentor, Roger Smalley (1943-2015). The Perth group Decibel performed five works in the first of their first Scale Variable concerts in the Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre (in Western Australia). Most of the music was  composed in the UK before 1976 when Roger moved to Australia to teach composition at the University of Western Australia.

What a delight this was! Though I recognised some of the material I had the feeling I was hearing it for the first time, or with new ears. After reading the great programme notes (by Cat Hope) I realised that some things had found their way into later works, so mystery solved.

These are pieces rarely heard with some probably not performed for decades. The members of Decibel and their friends went to a lot of trouble to assemble or recreate the materials needed, beginning with tracking down some lost items.

The first work was Didjeridu, for four channel tape, composed when Roger was Composer-in-Residence at UWA during his first visit here in 1974. From the programme: “[the work] uses source materials extracted from an LP that is still housed in the UWA library, featuring traditional music from the Mornington Peninsula.” I happened to sit next to Jenny Wildy, who was the music librarian at the Wigmore Music Library for nearly forty years. She said “I know that LP!”

Transformation (1968 rev. 1971) is for piano and live electronic “ring-modulation.” I thought I’d heard Roger using ring-modulation in another work, but I don’t recall it sounding like this. Adam Pinto’s masterful rendition of this virtuosic work was exciting, and the ring modulation was a revelation.

Impulses (1986) for ensemble treats ideas from an earlier work, Pulses. Full of pulsating, of course.

Another piano solo with ring modulation is Monody (1971-72), “the first of Smalley’s pieces to feature ring-modulation as structural, rather than colouristic and decorative role.” This was quite a mesmerising performance by Stuart James.

Decibel gave us the Australian premiere of Zeitebenen (‘time levels,’ 1973-75) for live electronic ensemble and tape, a major 45 minute work which made up the entire second ‘half’ of the evening. A large and varied work. I feel so privileged to have heard it, and I was impressed with how the composer managed the long time frame.

Before coming to Perth Roger was part of Intermodulation, an important electro-acoustic group of four composer/performers, for which he wrote this music. “Decibel is not unlike Intermodulation in its make up and intent… thus the program is dedicated to compositions for acoustic and electronic instruments… Decibel is a world leader in the integration of acoustic instruments and electronics, the interpretation of graphic notations and pioneer digital score formats…”

On 6 December 2015 I went to another really wonderful concert by the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra in the Fremantle Town Hall but I didn’t get around to blogging about it at the time. They gave a great rendition of Roger’s Footwork (2006, also known as Birthday tango) in a programme of mainstream works, and it was very well received. I’ve misplaced the printed programme and there’s nothing about it on their own website. Unlike last night’s concert there was no restriction on photos.

FCO Town Hall concert

Fremantle Chamber Orchestra on 6th December 2015, playing Roger Smalley’s Footwork

So that’s my five cents worth; I don’t write full-on music reviews. There is a little more about the Decibel concert at http://www.decibelnewmusic.com/intermodulations.html Perhaps the whole written programme will be put online, too? It has a lot more detail. (Hint, hint to Cat Hope.)

There was also a review of the Decibel concert the next day in The West Australian newspaper by : https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/entertainment/a/31795960/decibel-honours-smalley-legacy/

For more about Roger see my first blog about him from August 2015 and the many comments on it at http://mixmargaret.com/blog/2015/08/19/vale-roger-smalley-a-great-australian-musical-intellect/ At the end of that blog I’m adding more and more links to performances and articles about Roger, including the Decibel concert and any reviews I find.

Chidlow Recital, May 2016

With a couple of friends I held a classical music recital last week. We were  SO  STOKED  at the big attendance and all the great comments we got. Everyone had a great time and it seems it was a tremendous success. Yay us!

We three had a lot of fun preparing for the event, and we really enjoyed playing and singing our favourite music. It is such a joy to share music you love with a really appreciative audience. We held it at the Chidlow Hall, built in 1905 in the Shire of Mundaring, way out east past the hills of Perth, Western Australia. In recent years the Shire wanted to do away with the hall but now the local residents have taken it over and are refurbishing it.

Audience at Chidlow Hall

Audience at Chidlow Hall

Many people told us they loved the way we all spoke about the music before playing it. They said they found the music easier to follow and it made it all the more enjoyable. I can well understand that as I got used to hearing quite a bit of spoken introduction in countless wonderful performances I attended when I was a university student. It just seems like common sense to me and I don’t understand why anyone would do otherwise. In many situations it would be disrespectful, and unnatural, to simply walk up to the instrument and play without saying anything.

For my part, I talked about how I used to find Mozart’s music rather boring until I realised I was listening for something that is not in it. When I figured out how his style worked about ten years ago it was a revelation to me, and I think that resonated a lot with the big audience.

I illustrated the Bulgarian rhythm of a Bartók piece before playing it, and showed how it is identical to one of the most common and most loved rock or pop rhythms, sometimes known as the frug. Later someone asked me if that was from Bach, and I realised he thought I’d said ‘fugue.’

Naomi and Tony also gave very useful spoken insights into their guitar solos and songs, respectively (see the full programme below).

I took the opportunity to play a couple of original piano solos. I wrote Androgyne Prophecy in 1977 around my 16th birthday. Puck at Parkerville was completed just a month ago, and depicts the mischievous elf or sprite Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow, from Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play was produced in my family’s Parkerville Amphitheatre ca. 1974.

Naomi Millett, classical guitar

Naomi Millett, classical guitar

Our programme:

Mix Margaret & Friends
Classical Music, Old and New

Naomi Millett, guitar
Toni Arndt, soprano
Margaret D. Jones, piano

Naomi
Courante and Galliard by Silvus Leopold Weiss
The Maids in Constrite from the Jane Pickering Lute Book
Go From My Window from the Jane Pickering Lute Book
Allegretto in A major Op. 10 No. 4 by Matteo Carcassi
Alla Polacca (Polonaise) by Ferdinando Carulli

Toni
Lieder by Franz Schubert (b. 1797, d.1828) (accomp. by MDJ)
Romanze (from Rosamunde)
Frühlingsglaube
Liebhaber in Allen Gestalten
An Die Musik

Margaret
Piano Sonata in C, K309 (first movement) (1777) by W.A. Mozart
Androgyne Prophecy (1977) by MDJ (sheet music available)
No. 6 of Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm (from Mikrokosmos, 1926 – 1939) by Béla Bartók

INTERVAL   Free refreshments

Naomi
Sarabande by Francis Poulenc
Llanura by Reginald Smith Brindle
Estudio Sencillos No. V ‘Allegretto Montuno’ by Leo Brouwer
Allegro No. 26 by Brouwer
Movido/Rapido No. 20 by Brouwer

Toni
Two arias from Mozart’s opera, The Marriage of Figaro (1786) (accomp. by MDJ):
Porgi Amor
Non So Più

Margaret
Song Without Words, Op. 19 No. 3 in A (1829-30) by Felix Mendelssohn
Sonatine (second movement) (1905) by Maurice Ravel
Puck at Parkerville by MDJ (2016)

About Naomi
For many years Naomi was the presenter of The Guitar Show on RTR 92.1 FM community radio. (The show is now called Plucked Strings.)

As a fine soloist and performer she has played guitar or mandola in many duos and other ensembles. She was an Arts journalist with The West Australian newspaper for fourteen years, where she interviewed many leading classical guitarists, and has been a leader in the classical guitar (and mandolin) community of Perth behind the scenes. For many years Naomi has been an examiner for the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB).

Since having two children and moving to the Wheatbelt in 2007 Naomi has continued to teach, write, perform, record CDs and adjudicate at eisteddfodau, most recently the successful Pilbara Music Festival held in Port Hedland. She works part time in consumer advocate/peer support areas with the WA Health Department.

About Toni
Well-known to Hills audiences for her many solo appearances at concerts with the Hills Choir, Toni has a great love of soprano arias and art song. Her extensive repertoire includes Lieder and other music by Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Fauré.

About Margaret
Margaret grew up inside the Parkerville Amphitheatre, which her family founded and ran from 1966 to 2001. See www.parkerville-amphitheatre.com

For five years Margaret studied composition at UWA with Roger Smalley AM. Margaret’s piano compositions have been in the AMEB exam syllabus for many years. See her extensive website at www.mixmargaret.com for sheet music, free recordings and videos, and information about her many musical qualifications and accomplishments. Margaret is available to play her wide repertoire of classical music for private functions, cafes, exhibitions and book launches.

Margaret is an androgyne (a type of non-binary transgender) and is referred to as she or they. Instead of Miss or Mr, her title is Mx (Mix). Margaret has continuously used Mx since 2002 and is one of its earliest adopters. This honorific title was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in its online form in 2015 (see Margaret’s major online article on Mx/Mix, with a little about the singular they).

Many thanks to Kim Graham (Chidlow Progress Association), young Clive (Fuzzy) Millett, and to all those who helped spread the word.

More info (including how to buy scores online): www.mixmargaret.com

7.30pm Friday May 20, 2016 at Chidlow Hall, Chidlow, Western Australia.

 

Soul Tree is on the market, with no piano

This amazing organic café in Glen Forrest in the Perth Hills is now up for sale. In the few years Marilyn and Charl have owned and run it they have completely transformed it in almost every way.

In December I gave my last performance there. I’ve discontinued my piano playing residency at the café partly because of the uncertainty over the ownership, but also because I’ve been playing there two to five times a month for fourteen months and it feels like it’s time for a little break.

All the staff and patrons have been delightful. It’s been wonderful playing three hours each time from a repertoire of maybe 10 or 12 hours’ worth of scores, but there are other works I couldn’t play there because they aren’t suitable for creating a relaxing, laid-back atmosphere.

A few originals were sneaked in and were always very well-received. Recently my creative music-composing side has been taking off (well, slightly), so I will soon have more original works to perform, somewhere.

But if you’re looking for very delicious and very healthy food and drink in daylight hours, check them out www.soultreecafe.com.au

 

Sunday Dec 20, 2015 is next screening of Amphitheatre doco

The next public screening of the documentary “Parkerville Amphitheatre: Sets, Bugs and Rock n Roll,” just a one-off, is Sunday night, 20th December 2015 at Outdoor Kookaburra Cinema, Allen Road, Mundaring Weir (in the Perth hills). kookaburracinema.com.au

Contact
Info Line: 9295 6190
Screening Times
Gates open – 6:30pm
Show starts – 8:00pm
Prices
Adults: $15
Children: $10

See two trailers at www.facebook.com/tempestaustralia.

See a very brief history of the amphitheatre at www.parkerville-amphitheatre.com

This feature length (87 minute) independent documentary on the amphitheatre was completed by Tempest Productions in early 2015. The world premiere on 4th July 2015 at the Revelation film festival was SOLD OUT.

Jenny Crabb & Susie Conte, film’s directors, will provide a short commentary prior to the screening at the Kookaburra. And I’ll be there, too.

Major article on Mx now online

I’ve just completed a second, and very much larger, article all about the honorific title Mx or Mix:

About Mx, with Miss, Mrs, Mr, Ms,
and the singular they

Mx is a non-binary transgender title I’ve been using for myself since 2002.

The new article is much too long to fit in a single blog post so it’s online as an ordinary web page at

http://www.mixmargaret.com/about-mx-with-miss-mrs-mr-ms-and-the-singular-they.html

with a separate page holding five appendices (all well worth a read) at

http://www.mixmargaret.com/about-mx-five-appendices-to-mix-article.html

 

Androgyne using the new Mx title since 2002, now in OED

Updated to 4 July 2016

The new honorific title ‘Mx’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary recently. Some transgender and intersex people are now using Mx instead of Miss, Mrs, Ms or Mr. But there are some problems with it, not the least of which concerns the OED’s definition (more briefly discussed in my YouTube video New Mx title now in OED. See also my major article on this subject at About Mx, with Miss, Mrs, Mr, Ms, and the singular they).

(Note that in this blog post, the way I use ‘transgender’ refers to ‘non-binary transgender,’ and does not include ‘transsexual,’ simply because the latter, ie binary transgender people, will probably have a different perspective or attitude to Mx.)

To my mind Mx is an abbreviation of Mix or Mixture just as Miss, Mrs, and Mr are or were originally abbreviations of Mistress, Mistress (you read that correctly), and Master, respectively.

Many years ago I was a very early adopter of Mx (or Mix) after hearing that an intersex person in Victoria, Australia, was using it. Unfortunately I don’t recall their name.

Mx Margaret D. Jones ca. 2002

Mx Margaret D. Jones ca. 2002

As an androgyne, choosing to use the title Mx in 2002 was an excellent decision. For well over a decade most of my bills have come addressed to Mx Margaret Dylan Jones, or something similar. That’s credit cards, tax bills, bank statements, utilities etc. Mx or Mix is used in some sheet music publications of my classical piano music. At live performances where I play piano solo or accompany choirs or student soloists I’m introduced as “Mix Margaret…”

The sky has not fallen in and not once have I encountered a problem with it, apart from when computer operators find their software is just a bit too binary, but that is slowly changing.

In 2004 a seven-minute profile of myself was broadcast nationally on ABC television by the George Negus Tonight (GNT) programme. They consistently called me ‘Mix.’ (See the link at the end.)

December 2002 Mx Margaret Jones, doctor's letter

7th December 2002. Formal letter from my endocrinologist to my GP, about ‘MX MARGARET JONES.’ Also has ‘Mx Margaret Jones’ after Cc, below the signature.

However, I fear the inclusion in May 2015 of Mx in the Oxford Dictionary online version may now, for the first time, present some headwinds for me. It’s clear they have failed to adequately define the meaning or use of Mx, and they’ve come up with a poor pronunciation for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On October 3, 2015 at www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/mx#Mx they had this definition:

Mx
noun

A title used before a person’s surname or full name by those who wish to avoid specifying their gender or by those who prefer not to identify themselves as male or female. (This is unchanged at July 4, 2016)

Their definition suggests Mx is used to avoid stating one’s gender. The phrase ‘… those who prefer not to identify themselves as male or female’ may at first seem liberal and up-to-date with contemporary thinking but it’s not about modern notions of gender identity at all. It’s tantamount to denying the existence of any other gender besides male or female, which flies the face of the views of many researchers and academics.

Based on the way people are using it Mx definitely refers to various types of transgender or intersex identities, however difficult to define or however loosely defined those may be. As far as I can tell the only people using Mx are certain intersex and transgender people who, like myself, far from trying to conceal their gender are trying to make it clearer.

Any cisgender (i.e. non-transgender or non-intersex) person using Mx to refer to themself will be considered by others to be transgender or intersex, which is certainly not what they’re wanting. Using it to avoid specifying one’s gender is not going to work and like posting nude selfies on the internet it may be impossible to completely undo. Mx will inevitably continue to refer to an atypical gender identity, and that will be a gender which is not exclusively male or not exclusively female.

BUT  WHAT  IF  YOU  ARE  GENDERLESS?

I’ve often heard individuals say they do not have a gender. Sometimes I feel like this myself and I suspect many people occasionally do not feel like they have a gender. For example, not every man using Mr always thinks of himself as typically male. So I wonder if, perhaps paradoxically and showing its versatility, Mx may also serve to denote a person who is consistently genderless, as many otherwise transgender people consider themselves to be.

The online dictionary provides four examples which one assumes are meant to clarify their definition and illustrate how Mx is being used:

‘the bank is planning to introduce the honorific ‘Mx’ as an alternative for anyone who feels that they don’t, for reasons of undetermined gender, fit into being either a Mr, Mrs, Miss or a Ms’

‘A council is to include the title ‘Mx’ on its official forms to be more accommodating to the trans-community.’

‘To me, Mx Bond embodies the very best kind of girl a boy could ever grow up to become.’

‘Brighton & Hove council adopted the trans-friendly Mx title in 2013, after an inclusivity panel made the recommendation.’

However, these are all transgender or intersex uses and not cisgender at all. So their examples are consistent with my experience and usage, and with my observations of how others have used Mx, but they quite clearly contradict the Oxford Dictionary’s own definition!

BUT  HOW  DO  YOU  SAY  IT?

The Oxford Dictionary provided two pronunciations (you can listen to them spoken at their site):

Mx
Pronunciation: /məks/  /mɪks/

I suggest in practice /məks/ would soon become ‘mucks’ or ‘mux.’

The same dictionary’s definition of the word ‘mix’ (not the new honorific title) is identical with their second offering for Mx: /mɪks/. That is, ‘mix.’

The pronunciation is definitely better as ‘mix,’ not ‘mux,’ for several reasons. First, the real meaning of Mx often, though not always, pertains to a mixture of gender characteristics, which should be reason enough. Second, and this is more of an aesthetic preference, ‘mix’ is a much nicer sound. Also, ‘Mux’ sounds the same as ‘mucks,’ and who knows what that is supposed to mean?

The pronunciation ‘Muck’s’ could be misinterpreted as denoting possession as in ‘Muck’s Ackroyd’ wherein people may wonder what an ackroyd is and why Muck has one. With ‘Muck’s Jane’ they may wonder if Jane is a friend or perhaps a daughter of Muck. Granted, ‘Mix’ could be heard as ‘Mick’s,’ but at least mix is already a word and retains its original meaning of ‘mixture.’ Thus, it should not be so confusing.

The use of Mx or Mix as an honorific title is an elegant solution where many awkward alternatives have been suggested over several decades. Like the other titles Mrs, Miss, Ms or Mr, it starts with an easy ‘m,’ is only two or three letters, and I suggest is even easier and nicer to say than Ms.

THE  ADVANTAGES  of  Mx  and  Mix

  • Allows androgynes and other transgender and intersex people to be open about their gender
  • Allows us to fill-in forms truthfully, without lying
  • Is an elegant solution.

Mix as a pronunciation, and as the alternative or full spelling, has these important advantages over Mux:

  • Mix doesn’t fall foul of automatic spell-checkers
  • Retains the meaning or implication of mixture
  • Is easy to say
  • Everyone already knows how to pronounce it
  • Is less likely to be misheard as Ms
  • Is already proven to work perfectly in the real world since at least 2002.

NOT  COMPULSORY

Of course, using Mx should be optional and not at all compulsory. Many transgender or intersex people will not want to use it. Mx or Mix doesn’t suit all people with an unusual gender identity so it is important that no-one assumes a non-binary transgender or intersex person wishes to be known by this title. Some people don’t want any gender titles or labels of any kind. And I guess most transsexuals would only want to use the traditional male or female titles. If you don’t know you can ask.

For a long time I have called myself an androgyne, meaning a type of non-binary transgender person (not a transsexual). I’m happy to be addressed or referred to as she and her, and also by they and their. Other androgynes may feel differently about how they should be known.

Intersex people are often not aware they have an intersex variation or trait. Even when they are aware they probably consider themselves to be exclusively male or exclusively female in terms of identity, and would not want to call themselves in any way transgender. But a small number have a very different idea of their gender and some like to use Mx or Mix.

WHAT  IS  THE  POINT?

People such as myself really need a title like Mx for use in filling out official forms and many other situations. Very often you can’t open an online account without specifying a title or at least a gender. This forces us to LIE—if we put either male or female we are LYING. This can cause some real-world problems as well as emotional difficulties. If you are a cisgender person reading this, can you imagine going through your daily life constantly being referred to by, and having to provide, the wrong gender title? Then multiply that feeling by a hundred and you might know what it is like for us. It can be a tremendous insult for transgender and intersex people and at the very least it’s an injustice. Constantly hearing the wrong personal pronouns and titles does violence to one’s soul and can have mental health implications.

Mx may not satisfy all transgender theorists. Any title hides a myriad of differences and Mx is no different. How many different types of men are there? Billions! How many different types of androgynes or gender-queer etc. people are there who might use Mx? That’s also an infinite variety.

Mx and Mix do not denote exactly what type of gender identity a person has other than it is ‘other.’ This means not exclusively male or not exclusively female, whatever those terms may mean. Mx and Mix have proven to be of great practical value over at least the last thirteen years or so. Importantly, the general public seems to find them easy to understand and straightforward to use.

I’ve written to the Oxford English Dictionary in a personal capacity. I hope they will amend their entry on Mx soon. (No change as at 4 July 2016.)

Comments welcome

See the links at the start for the newer and much-expanded main article on Mx.

Listen to my 1977 Androgyne Prophecy music for free
soundcloud.com/mix-margaret-dylan-jones/sets
Watch me play it on a grand piano on YouTube
youtube.com/channel/UCz318nZdr520zMNK6GNfnjQ

Watch my YouTube video about Mx being added to the dictionary
New Mx title now in OED
Comment on this blog: mixmargaret.com/blog
Main site: mixmargaret.com
facebook.com/MixMargaretDylanJones
Read the transcript of my 2004 appearance on the George Negus Tonight ABC television programme
www.abc.net.au/gnt/people/Transcripts/s1158647.htm
Read about me and Mx in my local newspaper September 2015
echonewspaper.com.au/margarets-mx-gender-in-the-dictionary
More about me in the media
www.mixmargaret.com/margaret-in-media.html
2002 IFAS definitions of androgyne and intersex, and other links
mixmargaret.com/androgyne-definition.html

More scans of documents with ‘Mx Margaret Jones’

Back to top

Jan 2003 Music contract for Mx Jones

January 2003. Royalty ‘contract’ for piano composition by Mx Margaret Jones in exam syllabus book by Allans/AMEB (Allans was then the biggest Australian sheet music publisher, and later became AMPD).

Feb 2003 phone bill, MX MD JONES

February 2003. Telephone bill for MX MD JONES