Lower-case "x" as a gender-neutral typographic convention

You can type Mx instead or Mr and Ms to denote someone whose gender is unknown or nonbinary, "Latinx" is a gender-neutral and nonbinary-friendly version of Latina and Latino -- it's part of a wider trend to backforming gender neutrality into a language that assumes gender is a binary instead of a continuum.

Mx (pronounced "Mux" or "Mix") entered the Mirriam-Webster this year, and some businesses (like the Royal Bank of Scotland) are already using it in routine correspondence. Latinx is getting more use in the wake of the Orlando shooting, which targeted an lgbtq club on "Latin Night."

As Tim Carmody writes, there's lots of exciting stuff happening in language right now. Planned Parenthood has dropped "male condom" and "female condom" in favor of "internal condom" and "external condom," as part of a wider project to separate "anatomy, sexual activity, and gender identity."

Again, while the changes eventually get reflected in Planned Parenthood's intake forms and other official language, it was implemented early in digital and social media -- specifically, in response to users on Tumblr.

"The Tumblr audience is smart. They understand feminism. They understand that sex ed isn't one-size-fits-all--even though that's what they were taught in school," says Perugini. "And they know that words matter. They didn't see themselves reflected in the language we were using on our social media pages or our website, and they let us know."

This is happening. It's happening in progressive, diverse, digital communities first. And for all their fractiousness, and the inherent difficulty in dealing with areas as complex and personal as identity, gender, and sexuality, it does feel like some standards are emerging. These are words worth watching. If you work with digital technology and people (and yeah, that's almost everyone), I hope you're paying attention.


X marks gender-neutral
[Tim Carmody/Kottke]