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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 8, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 19
Oxford English Dictionary considers gender-neutral title 'Mx'
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Oxford English Dictionary considers gender-neutral title 'Mx'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Oxford English Dictionary - the repository of standard English since 1884 - is considering adding a gender-neutral title, Mx., to Mr., Mrs., and Ms.

'This is an example of how the English language adapts to people's needs, with people using language in ways that suit them rather than letting language dictate identity to them,' OED Assistant Editor Jonathan Dent told the Sunday Times.

'When you look at the usual drop-down options for titles, they tend to be quite formal and embrace traditional status such as the relationship between a man and wife, such as Mr. and Mrs., or a profession such as Dr. or even Lord. This is something new.'

Other gender-neutral forms of address have been in use for many years, for example Dr. or Rev., but this would be the first intended for general use instead of being specific to a profession.

According to the Sunday Times, Mx. was first used in 1977, in the American magazine Single Parent, as an alternative to titles that were perceived as sexist and discriminatory, like Mr. and Mrs., but did not really become commonplace until recently, when it came to be used for intersex and non-binary people.

Brighton and Hove was the first town in the United Kingdom to introduce Mx. on all official forms in 2013.

Barclays Bank, one of the UK's largest, is one of the first companies to officially use the title.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, another of the UK's biggest banks, is also considering adding Mx. to its recognized forms of address. The bank says it will probably also stop asking customers to provide their mother's maiden names, since many now say they have two fathers.

Earlier this year, the Law Society of Scotland adopted new rules that allow attorneys to register without specifying a gender.

Several U.S. states have also adopted gender-neutral language for public documents, with 'spouse 1' and 'spouse 2' replacing 'husband' and 'wife,' and 'parent 1' and 'parent 2' instead of 'mother' and 'father.'

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Oxford English Dictionary considers gender-neutral title 'Mx'
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