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Monday, May 4, 2015

new gender neutral title 'Mx' is to join the honorifics 'Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms' !!!!

Mrs? Or is that Ms, Miss? -  Getting married? What do you call yourself now? -  some years back, there was this article in BBC news at a time when the  European Parliament  caused "outrage" in the British press by  publishing a pamphlet asking staff to refrain from using the titles Miss or Mrs.

Mrs has been a commonly used English honorific used for women, usually for those who are married and who do not instead use another title (or rank), such as Dr, Professor, Lady, Dame, Baroness, etc.  Mrs originated as a contraction of the honorific Mistress, the feminine of Mister, or Master, which was originally applied to both married and unmarried women. The split into Mrs for married women from Miss has been in vogue for centuries. It is rare for Mrs to be written in a non-abbreviated form.   The plural of Mrs is from the French: Mesdames. This may be used as-is in written correspondence, or it may be abbreviated Mmes.
Crowds at Marina – photo has nothing to do with post !!

That decision of European Parliament asking staff to refrain using titles Mrs or Miss drew severe criticism.  "Ludicrous", one Tory MEP told the Daily Mail. "Political correctness gone mad", he continued. Another, in the Daily Telegraph, branded it a "waste of taxpayers' money". It is more than 30 years since Ms began to gain ground among a US feminist movement keen to find a title which did not denote a woman's marital status. Decades later - while being a Ms might be seen in Brussels as simple as being, well, a Mr - many elsewhere are less keen to catch on. Being a Ms is, frankly, unheard-of in some quarters.
"I don't think it's very helpful," said Charles Kidd, editor of Debretts Peerage and Baronetage - the guide to aristocracy. "I was brought up to address a married woman as Mrs John Smith, for example." Being a Ms isn't always plain sailing - with the most mundane tasks often turned into an exhausting battle of principle.

For example, attempting to take out insurance, this conversation is likely to follow:
"Name?", "Jane Smith".           
"Marital status?", "married". "Address Mrs Smith?".
"Actually I'm a Ms, Mrs Smith is my mother."
Momentary silence.
Then: "I'm sorry, if you're married you can only be a Mrs. The system won't allow another title."
Again, her dealings with insurers have also had their moments. "I found that married women were given a different premium to unmarried women. Yet, because men are Mr and so they couldn't tell their marital status, there was no change."

For some a title which indicated a woman's relationship to a man was simply "archaic" – to them the  marital status being known at work is by no means helpful. Moving away -  how would you complete Mr, Mrs, Miss ...................... and ... Mx – know what it is ? 

MailOnline reports that a  new gender neutral title 'Mx' is to join the honorifics 'Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms' on driving licences and other official documents, the first change to officially recognised titles in decades. Royal Mail, high street banks, government departments and some universities all now accept Mx which is used by transgender people or other individuals who do not identify with a particular gender. The title has been added, without fanfare, to official forms and databases and is under consideration by the Oxford English Dictionary for inclusion in its next edition.

Assistant editor of the dictionary, Johnathan Dent, was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying the move towards Mx was a sign of the English language's ability to adapt to an ever-changing society.   He said titles, whether on online drop-down boxes or elsewhere, tended to be formal and enforce traditional relationships such as those between husband and wife, as in Mr and Mrs, or even profession such as Dr or Lord. 'This is something new,' the assistant editor said.  Oxford University introduced the title last year and has explained that it is 'the most commonly used and recognised gender neutral title'

The Royal Mail has said it introduced Mx as an option for those registering online following requests from customers two years ago. It has been rolling out the title across all of its online applications since then. Barclays was one of the first high street banks to offer the Mx title and its customers can now use the title on their credit and debit cards, correspondence, cheques and with online banking. Royal Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Santander, Natwest, and the Co-Operative Bank have started using the title and HSBC has introduced Mx for some customers and is in the process of including it for all its customers.

The title first appeared in the US publication 'Single Parent Magazine' in 1977. Mr. Dent explains that the honorific was first called for by those with gender politics as their primary concern. They wished to see Mx replace Mr, Miss and Mrs which they viewed as discriminatory. In the late 1990s it became more associated with those identifying themselves as neither male nor female. 'Most people pronounce it as "Mux,"' is stated -  that it is said with a sort of schwa sound in the middle but a lot of people just spell it out.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th May 2015

The first part of the post credits BBC and Mx part it is DailyMail.

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