The gender-neutral salutation ‘Mx’ is to join the titles ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Miss’ and ‘Ms’ on official documents in the UK. Driving licences, passports, high street banks and even some government departments now accept the title, which is used by people who do not want to identify with a particular gender.
The title is now also under consideration by the Oxford English Dictionary and it may be included in the next edition. The Sunday Times quotes the dictionary’s assistant editor, Johnathan Dent, as saying the new title shows how English can adapt to people’s changing needs.
“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,” he said. “This is something new.”
Barclays, RBS, Halifax, Santander, Natwest and the Co-operative Bank all use the title, while HSBC is in the process of adding it. The Royal Mail has also introduced Mx on online applications, while Oxford University said it had added the title as it is “the most commonly used and recognised gender neutral title”.
He explained the title was first used in the US publication Single Parent Magazine in 1977. It was primarily used by those concerned with gender politics who wanted to get rid of ‘discriminatory’ traditional titles such as ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’. Now it is used more by people who do not wish to identify as male or female.
SJ Jacobs of the UK’s ‘Nonbinary Inclusion Project’ said the increasing use of Mx was a “big step forward.”
“For some, seeing that Mx title that they’ve chosen on a letter or a bank statement will be very important and help them feel validated,” Jacobs said.
However, despite the increasing use of the title, few people seem sure how to pronounce it correctly.
“Most people say it as ‘Mux’ with a sort of ‘schwa’ sound in the middle, but a lot of people just spell out the letters,” Jacobs said.