A call for examples

Practical Androgyny needs you!

Examples of the following are needed for future articles. Please get in touch if you’re aware of:

  • Organisations that allow non-binary genders to be recorded on their registration/application forms, especially if you have visual evidence
  • Banks or credit card companies that allow their debit or credit cards to be issued without honorific titles (Mr, Ms etc) before the holder’s name, include the process required if this isn’t standard practice
  • Websites, especially social network and dating sites, that allow the user to specify ‘Other’ for gender and/or write in a free form gender field, especially if gender neutral or third gender pronouns are also used

The more examples we have, the more precedents we can present when lobbying other organisations for change.

44 thoughts on “A call for examples”

  1. I’m already aware that NHS job application forms allow non-binary gender but don’t have details or evidence.

    I also know for sure that the UK bank NatWest issues cards without titles if asked. Other banks seem to have mixed results, so it would be ideal to have a list of proven examples.

    I’m aware that Metafilter, Diaspora and most likely the new vCard standard offer free text gender fields, while Google Profiles allow ‘Other’ for gender, and Facebook and DeviantArt allow gender to be left unspecified with gender neutral pronouns used as a result.

    Got any more examples, or even notable counter examples?

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      1. Yes I boycotted Facebook for ages as a ‘non-binary gender refusenik’, then joined recently in the short period when they allowed registration without specifying a gender. I get the impression that they need a gender to be able to advertise at you, which is what Facebook’s all about in the end…

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    1. Google+ allows “Other” for gender! I recently discovered Facebook no longer allowed new profiles to not specify male or female and felt quite sick, so for that reason alone I’m probably going to do the switch.

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      1. Sorry for the double post, but forgot to mention that ace-book.net, the asexual dating site, allows “other”.

        Anything in the lineage of AVEN (the main online asexual community) should be genderqueer- and trans-aware (if not problem-free) given that, according to the latest AVEN survey (2008), a fifth did not identify (without reservations) as their assigned gender. (The survey’s problematic in itself as it gives a sort of primacy to birth gender-assignation–it breaks up even gender-identity stats based on assigned gender. I’d probably have emotional trouble answering that question if I’d been a survey participant.) The majority of these trans* participants were “something other than male or female.” I think it’s probably important, then, for trans/genderqueer leaders, activists, and community leaders to at least have some basic idea about how-not-to-discriminate-against-asexuals. /offtopic

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      2. AVEN has good heritage there, I’m one of the ‘founders’ in that I wrote the original version of the general/’big’ FAQ and was probably the first person to talk about non-binary gender and things like polyamory on the forums. I’m ParanoidGynandroid (user 15) on there, BTW, mostly a lurker now days 🙂

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  2. Fetlife, while not exactly a typical social networking site, gives users a drop-down choice between male, female, crossdresser/transvestite, trans – male to female, trans – female to male, transgender, gender fluid, genderqueer, intersex, butch, femme, and not applicable.

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    1. Thanks for the report!

      It’s great that ‘genderqueer’ and ‘not applicable’ are offered as non-binary gender options, but I’m uncomfortable with ‘trans – male to female’ and ‘trans – female to male’ included as separate to male and female. The options given are a weird conflation of gender, gender role and sex, which seems to encourage the third gendering and fetishisation of binary identified trans people. I suppose it *is* a fetish website and the options *are* opt in. But even so, it would make me a little uncomfortable to register to a site that presented gender in those terms. Similar to how I feel when ‘transgender’ or ‘transsexual’ is included under sexuality rather than gender, although I’d say that’s an even more severe error.

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  3. Strangely, I’ve never actually seen a credit or debit card with an honorific printed on it. At least, none of the financial institutes I’ve ever used have had that practice.

    I can personally verify that Wells Fargo, Chase, and Capital One print only your name on their cards. I don’t believe the question is even asked.

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    1. Ah that’s interesting, perhaps this is an uniquely British problem. In the UK our driving licenses only code gender as a digit within the driver number, so bank cards displaying titles are the most prominent gender signifying forms of ID. I’m glad to hear that this isn’t a common problem in North America.

      I wonder what other commonwealth countries do. Anyone from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc able to comment?

      And unfortunately, if you apply in person, they often don’t even ask the question here too. It can be quite vexing to discover you’ve been arbitrarily assigned a title you didn’t ask for.

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      1. Unfortunately, I don’t have any positive examples to contribute. But, indeed, that seems to be more of a UK thing. Living in the US, I don’t recall seeing cards printed with titles. Actually, a lot more forms in general seem to request/require gender-specific titles in the UK.

        It would be interesting to find out how that works elsewhere.

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      2. I think in the UK it’s starting to be seen as a politer, indirect way to ask for someone’s gender. I know titles are asked for in the US under some circumstances as someone on Genderfork was asking about titles having been asked for one on a college application form.

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    2. I’m in Canada with TD Canada Trust, and they don’t even print our names – there’s a signature field at the back of the card, and that’s all.

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  4. Im with the Royal Bank of Scotland, a few years back, after several unpleasent incidents with retail staff accusing me of using a stolen card, I asked them to change the name on my debit card from Miss [insert wretched birthname] to just the initial and surname, they were quite happy to do this.

    The NHS form had extra options in the minority reporting section, this is a link to a form, the section is at the end – http://www.jobs.scot.nhs.uk/Application_Forms/Application_Form.doc

    Also, there are queer dating/social sites that have extra options, I keep this forum running, the host doesnt expand on the male/female option, but they do give you the chance to add other fields, so I did! http://www.ftmuk.net

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    1. Glad to hear RBoS allows title-less cards without hassles.

      Thanks for the example form. I’m disappointed that it’s in the Equal Opportunities Monitoring section and still only allows for Female or Male with a follow up question about ‘undergoing’ gender reassignment. That effectively erases non-binary genders and those with trans* identities that don’t include transition. The most other questions, such as sexual orientation include the options of ‘Other’ and ‘Prefer not to say’ but the gender question does not.

      The free text gender field on ftmuk.net is great, but I’d sad to say that I wouldn’t register for a site that had ‘Gender’ as a required field with only ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ as options, even if I could add extra information below. Have you considered complaining to your forum host?

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      1. I did contact them about it and they said it was their host or something which specified it and they couldnt change it either. Given its a free forum as they advertise on it, I wasnt really in a position to make demands, so I had to do my best to be accomodating. I dont think anyone really bothers with it to be honest, its only shown under the user profile, not in the rest of the forum.

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      2. Take it from me, users don’t complain, we just go somewhere else if we feel excluded by the registration process. I boycott any site that forces me to specify a gender that’s displayed anywhere.

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  5. I bank with Barclays and asked them to record MX as my title when I opened the account but they said their system wouldnt allow them to; they were able to omit titles completely from the cashcard and statements/letters though. I have friends who were able to get their title printed as MX on their cashcards, both bank with Natwest – I believe this something you need to request.

    I asked my GP to change my title to MX on my GP/NHS records and he said he needed to check the legality of that with the PCT – after 3 months of getting nowhere I called the PCT myself who said it is perfectly legal to have MX on your GP record as long as the software being used supported that option, otherwise it would be fine to leave the title feild blank. I had a Statutory Declaration drawn up to prove the legality of MX to my GP but still got resistance so have since changed GPs – my GP record has no title now. I have friends who have MX as their title on their GP record; I guess it depends on the GP and their surgerys software. The PCT said the NHS ‘spine system’ does not allow MX as an honorific but they can leave the title feild blank if requested. Somewhat annoyingly though, when I get whatever medication the GP has prescribed me the pharmacy include a gendered title on the printed sticker they put on the medication even though there is none on the prescription – seems to happen no matter what pharmacy I go to.

    The Inland Revenue were happy to change my title to MX on my tax records and used it in the letter they sent me, although the replacement national insurance card they sent had no title on it – I think thats pretty standard though.

    Despite my tax records showing my title as MX, the DWP still use a gendered title in correspondence with me – when I called them to have it removed they said there is no option. Im not sure I believe this as the people I spoke to seemed totally incompetant and more interested in why I wanted to change my title in the first place. Im planning to write to someone more senior about this.

    The Post Office have MX as my title on my account with them and print it on my statements – although they initally refused and I only managed to get them to change my title by presenting them with a copy of the Statutory Declaration I mentioned above.

    Note: as far as I am aware honorific titles (or State of Address) can be changed ‘legally’ without needing a legal document as back up, you simply make the request and the company/organisation/etc has to comply. The only exception is for titles like ‘Dr’ which imply more than just the owners gender, but Miss/Ms/Mrs/Mr/Mx/blank/etc can be changed ‘on the spot’ so to speak, I confirmed this with a solicitor. Its a shame I had to spend a few hours of my time and the £8 sorting out the Stat Dec when I really shouldnt have needed to (wouldve been £70 if I hadnt drawn it up myself, I’m happy to forward you a template if you want? UK-based*), but at the end of the day it has meant I now receive the bulk of my mail, etc, referencing me in gender-neutral terms which for me is a workable solution.

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    1. Thanks for the excellent feedback, this covers a lot of what I’m currently writing for a honorific titles article. I’ve personally tried to get no title used whether possible and have fought hardest when it’s on a card or form of ID I’ll have to show to others. It’s extremely helpful to have such detailed experiences from someone who’s using Mx with some success.

      For reference, my pharmacy prints no title on my medications, I didn’t even have to ask them to do this, they just took what was already printed on my prescriptions after I had my title blanked on my GP’s computer records. My paper medical records also have ‘Does not identify as male or female’ written in the space for sex, but the folder is still colour coded by gender.

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      1. May I ask if you are using a small ‘local’ pharmacy or one of the bigger ones like LLyods? LLyods bought out the two nearest family-owned pharmacies to me and and I wanted to take the title issue up with the counter staff but the pharmacies are always busy so its impossible to discuss the issue with any privacy (people always want to know what MX means and why I want to use it, etc), also I thought what if they remove the title then the next time I go in the next person adds a title anyway? (as people seem to think it is the appropriate thing to do to fill in title/gender/sex when it has been left blank). I was going to email their customer services dept for advice but guess what the first question on their email form is? The options are Mr/Ms/Mrs/Dr and its mandatory – so Im going to snail-mail them instead.

        I asked my GP ages ago if they could remove the sex marker from my records but they said they cant; apparently the NHS contact you for certain services such as smear tests and prostate examinations and if you have no sex marker on your records they wont be able to contact you about these services – but having said that, at some point last year the sex marker on my medical records was changed to the “other” one without me requesting it (I noticed it on a hospital referral letter) so if the above is true then I am expecting a letter at some point referring me for an examination of a body part/s I dont have! I am planning to speak to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service about this among other related issues.

        As an aside, something I have recently begun to notice with the NHS after having spoken to a few transitioning/transitioned non-binary identified people is that the NHS (GIC clinicians specifically) seem to respect the use of the title MX and gender-neutral pronouns for those who transitioned via a binary-oriented treatment protocol prior to transitioning via a non-binary protocol, whereas they tend to refer to those transitioning directly from their assigned birth sex/gender to a non-binary position with the title/pronouns associated with the marker on their birth certificate. I was wondering if you had any thoughts/experience on this?

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      2. They’re a chain of 16 different pharmacy branches across Nottingham and surrounding towns. Many pharmacies offer private consultations in my experience, mine actually asks me to do an annual catch up with the pharmacist in a side room where we talk through all my medications. I also talk to them on the phone regularly which has no application form barrier. Having to gender oneself when complaining about having to gender oneself is an annoyingly common experience.

        It’s a poor excuse that there has to be a sex marker on medical records given that transsexual patients may or may not have undergone reassignment surgery but are allowed to change their sex marker once transitioned. I’ve been asked by an embarrassed medical professional ‘are you the type with a cervix?’, which is probably the only socially acceptable circumstance to be asking that question 🙂

        And yes, that observation about the NHS CICs reflects the anecdotal and first hand evidence I have, that once you’ve transitioned to a binary gender then realised you’re actually non-binary, you get more respect and belief than people transitioning directly to a non-binary role. I’d like to see that change, people shouldn’t be forced to go through an inappropriate RLE to gain respect or equal treatment. At some point I’ll be giving a call for personal stories about GIC experiences for non-binary gender identity.

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  6. Dreamwidth.org (a social/blog network) has the options ‘female, male, other, rather not say’, and they don’t display any gender information publicly. Livejournal.com uses ‘Unspecified/Other, male, female’ (I don’t know why ‘other’ is listed as the first option, but hey.)

    My Suntrust-issued Mastercard has no title or gender listed. Seems like this is standard in the USA.

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  7. Datebound.com, which is promoted as a queer dating site, gives checkboxes for gender–you’re required to check one but may check more than one. Options are Female, Male, Transgendered Female, Transgendered Male, Gender Variant, Intersexed. (I’d love to see the “-ed”s get knocked off of transgender and intersex.)

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  8. I am currently in the process of changing my name and title, but I thought my experience with Halifax may be worth posting.

    I visited my local branch to have my name updated and asked for my new details to be recorded without a title. I was told this would only be partially possible however the staff I dealt with were very pleasant. Previously I had some aspects of my account under MR and others without a title. Since updating my name Halifax have now changed everything to say MR without my consent.

    I posted a query to Halifax regarding this via their Twitter:

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    1. Thanks for the tip! I tried to register for the site and only saw options for male, female or undisclosed. Do they really give it as three exclusive options, so it’s not possible to say you’re trans and male or trans and female? Because if so that’s extremely othering and inappropriate for the vast majority of people who would describe themselves as ‘trans’.

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  9. I bank with Lloyds, and have eventually persuaded them to provide me with cards with my preferred form of my name, including only writing out my third name in full. It took a hand-written letter to central customer services, though, followed by going back in to my branch and insisting they apply the manual override (I can provide a copy of my letter from them if desired). I still haven’t written back, many months on, but need to: their justification for requiring a title is “security reasons”, and, well, there is so much wrong with that…!

    Over in California – so less relevant – when applying to one of Caltech’s Student Faculty Programmes, gender is (a) in the “optional demographic information” section, and (b) male/female/self-identify with free text box/prefer not to say.

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  10. Hi,

    I was surprised when one of the webforms for University of California Santa Cruz allowed like six gender options. I have a screenshot if you’re curious? Feel free to email me.

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  11. The University of York (UK) allows potential post-graduate students to choose a gender of “I identify as neither male nor female” when applying to study there. I have a screen shot of this part of the online form.

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  12. I have a BHS Mastercard, an extra card on my wife’s account. I asked for a gender neutral card ie no title prefix, and it was issued no problem, but the lady on the phone did not think it would be accepted by the computer untill I pointed out that the card used in Mastercard promotional photographs has no title.

    Ruth

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  13. Further to my previous post, I also have a over 60 travel pass in my female role. I had to prove eligability, but having done that could have the photo and name of my choice. I had tried to get one about 3 years ago and was refused. 18 months later it was OK’ed after a check with the supervisor. Times are changing. I live in Rotherham UK. A friend in Leeds says Leeds Metro will issue a second pass in any gender if asked in writing.

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  14. I’m in the UK and recently changed my name and title by deed poll, my preferred title being ‘Mx’ if systems do not allow for no title to be listed. The amount of rubbish and resistance I’ve come up against whilst trying to change my details everywhere has been shocking. My experiences so far are:

    Library – they were nice and polite so I may go back and ask for my title changed again. They have to have something listed as title in their system and whilst they allow you to be ‘contessa’ and other such uncommon titles, they don’t have Mx and they won’t allow you to have nothing. Caved in and chose Ms but that as the first place I visited was the only place I did and will probably go back and ask to change it again, probably to something ridiculous as they evidently won’t allow anything sensible.

    National Trust – see library. Same system. The guy on the phone line told me that he wouldn’t put nothing in the title for me as ‘he’d get marked down’ for it (which is a bit off to put his performance over customer satisfaction really but he was a nice guy so whatever). Eventually, after being offered ‘herr’ etc we settled on ‘Captain’. Which is a bit of a ridiculous thing to have on my membership card but I’d rather have ridiculous than ‘Miss’. Also left them a voicemail feedback suggesting they introduce the option to have no title listed and add ‘Mx’. I later emailed them to confirm that I didn’t want gendered titles on my correspondence and they not only referred to me in emails with a gendered title but also went back to referring to me by my previous (and now no-longer-legal) name. I have not yet received my replacement card. Very disappointed with the National Trust on this.

    Halifax – no option to not have a title but told they could type one in so after a lot of faffing I was allowed Mx. Since went back in to deal with my account and was confronted with my old details. Queried this and was informed that my name change application had been ‘rejected due to Mx’ (nice of them to write and inform me of that -_-). Spent about an hour with the (to be fair, quite apologetic and nice) staff and was told that they just couldn’t put no title or Mx. Was offered an extensive list of exotic titles to choose from and settled for the (yet again ridiculous) title of ‘Musician’ (HOW is that even a title?!) and lodged a formal complaint.

    Royal Bank of Scotland – circled the ‘do not put anything in title’ box twice, thought I was home and dry, then received a replacement bank card with no title listed (victory) which was however addressed to ‘Ms’ in the letter. Since went back and complained. Remains to be seen if it sunk in and future correspondence will be addressed without a title. Interested to note that other people have had cards with ‘Mx’ on from them, wonder if it can vary branch to branch?

    Lloyds – also really pleasant, let me not have a title listed. Not received any correspondence yet to verify if they’ve actually put this into action.

    Boots Advantage card – probably the rudest people I spoke to, wouldn’t allow no title to be listed and insisted on choosing from the prescribed choices, of which the only remotely neutral one was ‘other’. Sent through my replacement card with letter also addressed to ‘Other’ and then my surname. I went online and complained through their feedback form stating explicitly ‘I do not wish to be referred to as Ms, Miss or Mrs and Other is not an acceptable substitute. Please either introduce Mx as a title or allow for no title to be listed’. Received a brief response email informing me that another replacement card has been sent out with my title listed as ‘Ms’. Ironically the member of staff who signed it didn’t put their title. I can only conclude that Boots are actually idiots who don’t read emails properly and intend to boycott them until this is resolved.

    English Heritage – immediately changed my name and listed no title, sent me a replacement card with correspondence addressed to me with no title. Made NO fuss about it, were polite and professional. Is it really so difficult for other companise to follow suit?!

    Other places I’ve contacted have been the NHS, council tax, HRM revenues and customs. I’m still awaiting a reply from them all. I’d be interested to hear of anyone else’s recent experiences.

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  15. Just rang HSBC and, after a little bit of polite but pointed ‘I’ve never heard of that title’ and ‘you say it’s gender neutral but all the men I know use Mr’ the person I was speaking to (Tim, if that helps) had a go at changing my title in the records and it went through the system without an issue. So that’s something to bear in mind if faced with resistance from HSBC – it seems their database accepts the title, even if its employees might not!

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  16. I’ve also managed to get HSBC to change my title to Mx. Nearly. Mx appears on my cards but all other correspondance uses a non-neutral title.

    DVLA changed the title on my Drivers License to Mx when it was up for renewal – I had to write a letter to explain why, but apart from that there were no problems.

    The door to door sales rep from Swalec wrote Mx on the application forms for an account but by the time the account paperwork came through my title had morphed back to what the data inputter was more used to 😦

    Smile bank (Co-op online arm) were by far and away the most hostile to this request and were pretty insulting, claiming it wasn’t a legal title and no-one else used it!

    I’m working on two more organisations at the moment and should be able to post more good news soon…

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  17. Just been on the phone to the Co-operative bank. They first started telling me I needed proof, so I explained that no such proof exists and that the deed poll office has made it clear that no such proof is necessary in order to use the title ‘Mx’. They gave the examples of marriage and acquisition of a PhD as cases where proof is needed, and I repeated that while that may be the case for those titles, it is not the case with many others. I was then put on hold for 15 minutes before being told that I would have to send a letter to the name change department as they don’t deal with this sort of thing over the phone. I asked them to clarify that even if I was changing my title to ‘Dr’ or something, it would still not be possible over the phone. While they were polite, I am nevertheless annoyed that I was grilled and made to wait for so long over an issue that cannot be dealt with over the phone anyway. It seems the 15-minute wait was just so that they could talk among themselves about whether non-binary genders even exist. Which is fine, but not when I’m paying for the call!

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      1. Hey sorry for the delay. I’ve been dealing with this transatlantically so it’s all taken a while. But I have good news! I just got a new debit card from them with the title Mx!

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  18. I bank with Halifax. Having recently changed my name and title by deed poll (changed my title to Mx), I tried to register this change with Halifax at my local branch. The person manually entered ‘Mx’ as it was not in their list of titles, so I thought it was all fine. However, I received a call about a week later from the same person who dealt with me in-branch, to say that the name change couldn’t be processed because the title was not allowed.

    I was told that although they could specially print me a card with the title ‘Mx’, they could not change it to ‘Mx’ on my actual account details due to the computer system. They therefore would not print the card with ‘Mx’ or with no title because apparently it could cause me problems when shopping online if the title on my account and card didn’t match.

    As other people have noted with Halifax, the person who dealt with me was very friendly and respectful and said they would be annoyed as well if someone made them use a title which they didn’t feel was appropriate to their gender. But in the end, I had to choose a gendered title in order to have my name change go through on the system.

    I was told that this has been raised as a complaint on my behalf, but have so far not heard from the complaints team.

    Like

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