Enlightening bolts and Mx.

Dear President Trump,

I can always tell when you and your administration are stressed because your contact page “autoreplies” are delayed such that notes back to me come in odd clumps days later rather than arriving within a few minutes of submission. This latest round has been going on since the Mueller report was finalized.

The autoreply I got yesterday is what prompted this missive about them. When things are semi-normal and the autoreplies are working ok, I get two of them daily because I always have to submit letters in two portions due to the character limit. However, yesterday I got only one autoreply. Aside from it being an odd singleton, it was singular in another way; instead of the usual generic “Thank you for contacting the White House” blurb at the beginning of a 10-line note saying your staff will review my correspondence shortly, the salutation for this one was personalized with “Dear Dr. Simpson,” and there was a full letter ostensibly from you about today, 4/27, being “National Prescription Drug Bring Back Day,” which is about as not catchy as it could possibly be. It’s probably just a random hiccup that my name got tagged in, but I prefer it when I don’t feel quite so singled out and visible.

The other, far more important thing this particular autoreply got me thinking about is that the prefix box on your contact page is required and yet it only has the standard binary options “Mr.,” “Ms.,” and “Mrs.” along with “Dr.” I feel badly that it hadn’t occurred to me before that non-binary people don’t have an appropriate option from which to choose. I should have caught this before. It’s only since I started the political essay class I mentioned two weeks ago that I’ve been in a situation where introductions include our preferred pronouns. There’s one person who indicates theirs is “they/them” and I think this finally sensitized me enough to notice the omission on your site. Even though you all will never add it, if an enlightening bolt were to strike and you were to decide to be inclusive, the preferred prefix is “Mx.” with the “x” serving a wildcard function.

Yours is the only contact page that I routinely deal with, but I’m going to be sure to keep an eye out from now on to see whether other ones include “Mx.” or at least don’t require that a prefix box be checked so that non-binary people aren’t forced to identify in ways that erase a huge part of who they are.

May we feel safe when we encounter official forms.
May we all be happy to recognize the full spectrum of human variety.
May we get that acting gender-blind (etc.) compromises our health and saps our strength.
May we make peace with ways of being that are outside our ken and may we bring them inside our ken.

Tracy Simpson

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