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Oxford English Dictionary could recognise gender neutral title ‘Mx’

Nick Duffy May 5, 2015
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The Oxford English Dictionary is considering adding the gender-neutral title ‘Mx’ for the first time.

The title Mx is a gender-neutral alternative to Mr and Ms, which has grown in use and seen an increasing pick-up, with a number of councils and banks now offering it.

It is one of a number of gender neutral honorifics, such as Dr. and Rev. – but is intended for general use instead of specific to a profession.

The upswing in usage for the honorific might see it included in the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The dictionary’s assistant editor Jonathan Dent told the Sunday Times: “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.”

“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.”

Despite becoming increasingly popular in recent years as a way to refer to intersex and non-binary people, the title was coined in the 1970s as a reaction to existing ‘discriminatory’ titles.

Earlier this year, the Law Society of Scotland made changes to allow solicitors to register without forcing them to specify a gender.

RBS – one of the five major retail banks in the UK – is also considering adding Mx to its recognised titles. The bank could also stop asking customers for their mother’s maiden name – because a lot of people have two dads.

Related topics: dictionary, gender neutral, intersex, Mx, non-binary, OED, Oxford English Dictionary, Rev, title

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