X’s and Bios

I’ve written and rewritten this post so many times over the last few months. The drafts ranged from Dramatic Announcement to Flippant Lines to Absolutely Nonsensical. I knew what I wanted to say—just couldn’t figure out how to say it. But writing is all about drafts, so let’s give it another try:

It’s nothing big in the grand scheme of things. Just decided to use gender-neutral pronouns in my author biographies. I prefer them over “he” or “she” in reference to myself, and I complain a lot that I hardly ever see them used. I say I don’t use them because most people don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, and because there’s no standardized system for gender-neutral pronouns in America and Why does America suck so bad?!

Around then is when I realized I might be part of the problem, because if I don’t use them, then how the hell are the people around me supposed to become familiar with them?

So I’m going to use them now. In my author bios, as well as during those odd times when I think it’s a good idea to talk about myself in the third person. I don’t think it’ll change anyone else’s lives in any significant way, but it’ll change my life, and that’s what I’m going for.

Now, there is one advantage to having no standardized system for gender-neutral pronouns in America. It means I still have time to put in my vote, and I’m going with the X-set:

Xe, Xem, Xyr, Xyrs, Xemself

The “X” in these has the same sound as the “X” in xylophone.

The Sie/Hir set is probably more common, and I’ve used it online on several occasions. Using them can be an interesting study in perception because in my experience most people will assume I’ve made a typo and will correct it for me. So “Hir” is often reflected back at me as “His” or “Her” depending on the person reading it. It’s kinda cool from a sociological standpoint.

But I’m also a writer, and I’d rather not have people thinking I make that many typos. 😀

With the X-set, it’s pretty obvious that I’m deliberately spelling the words that way. Plus it fits well with “Mx.” in place of “Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss” and I absolutely believe that “Mx.” should be an option on every form that feels it requires that sort of information. And, come on, X’s are cool.

I went through a phase (that I’m likely still going through) where I tried on all sorts of pronouns, looking for a set that fit me. I don’t mind He/She. I tend to joke that since I’m gender fluid, chances are one of those is right some of the time. The Sie/Ze/En sets made me feel more…settled. But the X set is, by far, my favorite, and it’s my bio. So, by definition, it’s all about me, yeah? 😉

If you’re interested, I’m posting the revised bio below. It’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it’s changed my life for the better.


Born an Air Force dependent, Rowan McBride traveled the world and totally missed the 80’s as most Americans know it. In exchange, xe’s gotten to walk in clogs, break an arm at Mt. Fuji, and say prayers at a Korean Buddhist temple. So far it seems like a fair trade. Although xe graduated from high school in Hawaii, xe didn’t learn to hula and make leis until going to college in Iowa. After leaving the Midwest, xe moved to Washington, DC and very nearly got xemself a Juris Doctor degree. Now xe’s chilling out in Texas, diabolically planning road trips that could span years.

People say xyr life is random, and that’s probably true. Rowan comforts xemself with the working theory that a random life makes for good stories. When that doesn’t work, there’s Pocky. Lots and lots of Pocky.

2 Responses to “X’s and Bios”

  1. ChrisMuldoon says:

    I like it. Here’s what my reaction would have been to reading that bio at the end of a book (or on a site somewhere): I definitely know it’s deliberate and not a typo. By the end it’ll be obvious that “all those weird ‘x’ words” were used in reference to the author. I’d probably have an inkling that it has something to do with gender neutrality, though I would definitely Google it to find out what’s what. And that search would bring me to a Wiktionary article that describes it as a “gender-irrelevant” pronoun. (BTW, I don’t want to be stepping on anyone’s toes, but from someone who hasn’t given much thought to these things…I love “gener-irrelevant” so much more than “gender-neutral.”) That would intrigue me enough to find your author page, follow your blog and go buy your stories. Well done.

    From your post, it doesn’t sound like that was your intent so much as bringing awareness. But it’s a lovely side benefit. 🙂

  2. @ChrisMuldoon – That’s actually the first time I’ve heard that term (“gender-irrelevant”) but I definitely see its appeal!

    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

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