The UK Allows 'Mx' As An Official Title, And America Should Take Notes
Though it's been sparsely used since 1977 all throughout the UK, "Mx" is a gender-neutral title now entering mainstream usage for individuals who don't identify with traditional Mr., Ms., Miss or Mrs. labels.
Throughout England, government departments, banks, councils, the Royal Mail, DMVs and some universities will now accept "Mx" as the official title for anyone wishing not to identify with "Mr." or "Mrs." on federal forms.
Inclusion of the title marks the first time in recent history a new prefix has been added to our vocabulary.
Pronounced "mix" or "mux," this honorific title symbolizes a paradigm shift in how we label and define ourselves as individuals. Up until now, those who do not identify with binary male-female genders have had no honorific demotion to choose from.
And it's not the way it should be.
As we become a more conscious and inclusive society, we've slowly started to realize all the ways we must adapt our language to meet our cultural desires.
In the UK, many banks, universities and government departments have begun including "Mx" on official forms and documents. Even the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is considering whether to include "Mx" in the next edition.
But not all are as keen on this new term as others. Rolad Sussex, a language expert emeritus professor told The Advocate,
“I think that it's ugly. I'm afraid 'Mx' looks like a half-blown scientific formula or expression of some kind. And 'mux,' it just doesn't sound very nice.”
But no language expert has the power to keep someone from defining themselves as they truly see themselves.
Gender identity is an individual form of self-expression. Rather than seeing male or female as a linear and binary option, we're beginning to understand gender is more of a prism extending into a variety of directions.
People can identify anywhere between male and female, and even beyond this spectrum of results. Whereas sexual orientation and sex are genetically determined, gender is not as static.
Instead, gender identity is determined by how an individual perceives themselves within the context of our society. The addition of Mx is not only more inclusive, it also takes our society out of its archaic black-or-white approach towards gender.
But it's not just transgender or genderqueer individuals who are pushing for this change. Women, in particular, face the pressure of having to disclose their marital status when they select either Mrs. or Miss on federal forms and most other legal documents.
Since as far back as the 1960s, women have been limited by the usage two separate titles imply: "Miss" and "Ms." imply a woman is still under the responsibility of her parents; "Mrs." implies she is the property of her husband.
This minor blip in the English language screams sexism. While a man stands proud and tall no matter what his relationship status, a woman must shape her labels around whether or not she belongs to someone else.
So it's understandably more difficult for a man to empathize with this struggle; he is universally known as "Mr." whether or not he's married. Men, in general, have the luxury of not facing the same societal bias women do in choosing a title to best describe them.
In an interview with PinkNews, a woman who identifies as female shared the positive implications this has on society overall.
“Despite identifying very strongly as female, I've been uncomfortable with gendered titles all my life," she shared. "Being denied a neutral option always seemed just as absurd to me as being required to declare my marital status because of my gender. As a child, I remember telling my mother that I wanted to become a doctor -- not because it was my dream job, but because then I wouldn't have to be called by a gendered title."
The addition of Mx is about more than just adding another option to a drop-down menu.
It's about giving people the ability to feel validated and accepted by their neighbors, their community and their nation on their own terms.
It shows a step in the right direction -- one which doesn't automatically assume people will bend and squeeze fit the mold of whatever box already exists. And no word can summarize just how valuable this feeling is to have.
Mx may be just one small step forward for the English language, but it's one giant leap for gender equality.
Citations: Mx Could Be Oxford English Dictionarys First Trans Affirming Honorific (The Advocate), Whats the deal with Mx (PinkNews), RBS the bank that likes to say Mx (The Guardian), Oxford English Dictionary could soon include general neutral title Mx (PBS), Now pick Mr Mrs Miss Ms or Mx for no specific gender (The Sunday Times)