Supporting the Institution of Marriage. A Trans Perspective

Our unusual take on marriage equality for same-sex, transgender and intersex couples in Australia. Jenny and I can and will marry, but many others are simply not allowed to under the current law. See below for lots of links.

Unless the process gets struck down in the High Court on 5th & 6th September 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will conduct the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, using the names & addresses of voters on the electrol roll aged 18 years or older.

Below is the transcript of our Facebook video, made by Jenny and myself.

Jenny & Margaret
From Jenny & Margaret’s YouTube video, with background piano music by Margaret: “Rainbows Over Hovea.”

JEN: Hello. I’m Ms Jenny Nairn.

MDJ: And I’m Mix Margaret Jones.

JEN: My fiancée Margaret is an androgyne. I am a cisgender woman. Margaret and I make a great couple; all my family love her.

MDJ: It is wrong to claim allowing marriage equality for same-sex couples, and trans and intersex people, will erode or somehow damage the institution of marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth.

JEN: This debate is about marriage equality. It’s about two people who want to seal their relationship in marriage, regardless of their gender.

MDJ: In reality the campaign against marriage equality is an attempt to suppress us, to put us back in the bottle and make us invisible again.

JEN: Marriage rates for heterosexual and cisgender people, that is, non-transgender people, have been historically low for decades with fewer couples getting married and divorce rates high. This has had serious effects on families and extended families. I know this for myself as I have been divorced for fourteen years with two young children, and it was difficult! But I’m looking forward to getting married again.

MDJ: Allowing same-sex, transgender and intersex couples to use the civil contract known as marriage will enhance the concept of the family. LGBTI families form in many ways and they include blended families with children from previous relationships. These children should not be denied a happy and secure family life.

[Update:Children of same-sex parents enjoy better levels of health and wellbeing than their peers from traditional family units, new Australian research suggests. In what they described as the largest study of its type in the world, University of Melbourne researchers surveyed 315 same-sex parents and 500 children about their physical health and social wellbeing.” See http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-05/children-raised-by-same-sex-couples-healthier-study-finds/5574168 ]

Accepting the reality of our inherent or intrinsic equality as LGBTI people, because despite unequal treatment we are and always have been equal, and allowing us to marry, will surely boost the concept and practice of marriage.

JEN: Marriage, as a social contract pre-dates all modern religions by thousands of years and there is no reason why churches should have any veto over it. They do not have a monopoly on love.

Modern marriage is about love, and nurturing relationships, and I think we can all agree that these are good things. But, until very recent times marriage was not usually about love and caring at all. It was all about protecting women and children as objects owned by men—nothing to do with protecting women and children for their own benefit and nothing to do with loving couples. We want to marry for the modern reasons of love and nurturing.

MDJ: The current marriage law has caused great hardship to many transgender and intersex Australians. Often trans people are required to get divorced in order to change their legally documented sex or gender. Many of us have been forced to divorce our loved ones so we can change our official identification. This is much worse and more frustrating than you might imagine as these identification changes are crucial in many ways to our well-being, and the well-being of our families.

Some intersex Australians have birth certificates which identify their sex as ‘indeterminate,’ rather than as male or female. They may have no disability whatsoever, yet they may not [are not allowed to] marry simply because marriage is still only between a man and a woman.

It’s inappropriate to name a non-binary or enby [N.B.] person like myself as a ‘husband’ or a ‘wife,’ yet that is what the current law requires.

JEN: Some of us will marry in a religious ceremony because some of us are Christian (such as myself), orJewish, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist and so on. We might even use a church or some other place of worship.

Changing the law to enable marriage equality will help to save the modern social institution of two people in love coming together in a civil legal contract to properly secure the future of themselves and their families.

TOGETHER: Please vote YES
MDJ: for marriage equality in Australia for same-sex, transgender and intersex couples if you want to preserve and strengthen the institution of marriage.

TOGETHER: Vote YES
JEN: if you want to support children growing up in loving families with committed parents.

TOGETHER: Vote YES
MDJ: if you want all couples and their children to have the same rights to hospital visits, shared taxation, inheritance and many other entitlements.

JEN: When people are treated equally, everyone benefits. Let’s get equality for ALL couples in Australia who want to formally commit to each other.

Thank you.

MDJ: Please check you are registered for the postal vote by 24th of August 2017, and get your ballot posted back well before the 7th of November, that’s the deadline. Please see the links for more information on how to do that and for explanations of the terms we’ve used such as Mx (Mix), androgyne, cisgender, transgender, intersex, enby, and non-binary.

===================================

Video written & spoken by Ms Jenny Nairn (cisgender woman) & Mx Margaret D. Jones (non-binary transgender enby/androgyne).

Music: Rainbows Over Hovea © 2016, composed & performed by Margaret D. Jones, MusB(UWA), DipEd, LTCL, ATCL, AMusTCL, AMusA.

Please ensure you are registered for the Australian POSTAL plebiscite by 24 August 2017. To check your enrolment with the AEC, see https://check.aec.gov.au/

Ballot papers will start arriving in the mail from September 12. The postal vote closes 7 November. Please make sure you post it back promptly. Don’t let it gather dust!

To clarify: Although I’m an androgyne and the name on my birth certificate is “Margaret Dylan Jones,” I am legally male. This means Jenny and I can get married whenever we want, which is sadly not the case for so many other LGBTI people.

For links and info about the plebiscite/survey on marriage equality in Australia, and a brief glossary for the terms Mx (Mix), androgyne, cisgender, transgender, intersex, non-binary and enby, see http://mixmargaret.com/links/

See my major article about Mx or Mix, a non-binary transgender honorific title: About Mx, with Miss, Mrs, Mr, Ms, and the singular they

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’

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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