A title used before a person’s surname or full name by those who wish to avoid specifying their gender or by those who prefer not to identify themselves as male or female.
Where does the term come from?
In an article in The Telegraph, Olivia Goldhill said “Mx” originated in the late 1970s as a “feminist word for those who didn’t want their gender to be revealed in their title.”
How should I pronounce it?
In an article in Vogue, Nicole Mowbray said it was to be pronounced “mix” or “mux.”
From a 2015 TIME article by Katy Steinmetz:
According to Dictionary.com lexicographer Jane Solomon, this honorific has one of those rare, very-clear etymologies: Dating back to at least the late 1970s, the M was taken from the first letters of those gendered honorifics, and the x was attached to suggest an unknown quantity or thing, like it might in algebra class.
So is it preferred over Mr., Mrs., and Ms.?
Whether or not it’s “preferred” depends on the individual person, of course, but it has become more common. Cassian Lodge told The Telegraph that using “Mx” hadn’t been much of a problem:
If I am going to have ongoing and meaningful communication with someone and they’re using the wrong title, I do correct them, much as a woman might when she is accidentally called Mr in a letter or similar… Mostly using Mx means I have to correct people’s assumptions a lot, which isn’t that awkward really. People are generally very respectful and accepting. It’s still quite unusual to see Mx on forms alongside Mr. and Ms., but I think this is going to change pretty quickly.
“Mx.” appears on forms?
It certainly appears on some. HSBC, one of the UK’s largest banks, added the honorific to its paperwork in 2017, according to The Independent:
HSBC will now give customers the option of a range of titles, including “Ind,” which stands for individual, meaning free of gender, and “Mre,” an abbreviation for “mystery.”
I didn’t know there were so many alternative honorifics.
HSBC project manager Stuart Barette told The Independent that the bank intentionally included several gender-neutral terms beyond “Mx”:
For transgender people we had ‘Mx’ but we didn’t have a whole range of other ones. And actually, especially for people who identity as non-binary, they don’t necessarily always want to use the ‘Mx’ titles.
The aforementioned Vogue article suggested some others, including Pr (“person”), Misc (“miscellaneous”), Ser (pronounced “sair”), and Msr, which is a combination of “miss” and “sir.”
How do I know which honorific someone uses?
Unless they tell you, you won’t be able to know. As is the case with most terminology, it’s best not to apply a term to someone unless you know that person would use it.
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