Why I'm using "Mx" as a title


Binary code displayed on a screen.

I am not non-binary. I am cis-gendered - and pretty much the definition of "default male". And yet, whenever I encounter a form which has it as an option, I select my title to be "Mx". I've even stopped my usual practice of choose His Excellency - much to the dismay of my postie, I'm […]

Continue reading →

Some thoughts on "Hacking the Cis-tem"


Black and white photo of the Queen Mother pressing a button on a 1960's era computer.

I recently read a wonderful paper by Mar Hicks called "Hacking the Cis-tem" which is about database design in the 1960s and the nascent digital state's approach to transgender individuals. It's a short and readable paper with some jaw-dropping anecdotes. Like the man who immediately got a pay rise after his transition, despite working in […]

Continue reading →

Book Review - Sex: Lessons From History by Fern Riddell


Book cover.

These are the facts: throughout history human beings have had sex. Sexual culture did not begin in the sixties. It has always been celebrated, needed, wanted and desired part of what it means to be human. So: what can learn by looking at the sexual lives of our ancestors? What does it tell us about […]

Continue reading →

The return of the "armchair auditor"


a cartoon robot saying equal pay now.

About a million years ago, the then Coalition Government in the UK announced a slew of Open Data projects. They wanted - in their words - to "mobilise an army of Armchair Auditors". That is, ordinary people would be able to look through the data and find interesting errors. I'm a civil servant (this is […]

Continue reading →

Gendered 2nd Person Pronouns


The Terminator is a terrifying metal skeleton with glowing red eyes.

English is a stupid, irregular language. But at least it doesn't needlessly ascribe gender to inanimate objects. However, I think this is a weakness when using 2nd Person pronouns - especially in fiction. Most literature is written in the 1st person ("I opened the door") or the 3rd person ("She picked up a fork"). But […]

Continue reading →

Book Review: A History of Women in Men's Clothes - Norena Shopland


A book cover of the title embossed in tight silk.

Traditionally, historic women have been seen as bound by social conventions, unable to travel unless accompanied and limited in their ability to do what they want when they want. But thousands of women broke those rules, put on banned clothing and travelled, worked and even lived whole lives as men. As access to novels and […]

Continue reading →

Titles and Pronouns


Some giant question marks standing in a field. Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/dbrekke/181939582/

I am not a linguist, nor an expert on gender. I'm just trying to muddle my way through this confusing world the same as anyone else. The English language is adaptable. We'll happily bodge words together to make new ones, verb our nouns, and grammar-flex to the point of breaking. It's a fun language! English […]

Continue reading →

How popular are "And Daughters" businesses?


Shop sign - Marlow and Daughers. Via https://flic.kr/p/a6S2rR

It's quite popular to see high street shops names "Somesuch and Sons". Indeed, my grandparents ran "Eden & Sons" for many year. Much rarer is seeing "... & daughters". But, of course, the plural of anecdote is not data! The UK register of businesses - Companies House - has a pretty good search engine. Doing […]

Continue reading →

Default Ordering Of Title Options


An extremely long title list which includes Right Honourable, Wing Comander, Dame, etc.

I was signing up to a website the other day, and it wanted to know my title. Here are the options it offered me: Look, I get it. If I'm ever daft enough to undertake a PhD and masochistic enough to complete it - I am going to demand that everyone addresses me as Doctor […]

Continue reading →

Book Review: The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon


Gendered Brain Book Cover.

Do you have a female brain or a male brain? Or is that the wrong question? We live in a gendered world where we are bombarded with messages about sex and gender. On a daily basis we face deeply ingrained beliefs that your sex determines your skills and preferences, from toys and colours to career choice and salaries. But what does this constant gendering mean for our thoughts, decisions and behaviour?

Continue reading →