2015-5-18 09:17


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 explained it was the first time in recent history that commonly used and accepted titles had changed.

Mr Dent was quoted as saying it showed the way English could adapt to people's needs, rather than letting language dictate identity.

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.

The Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the NHS are among those public bodies now accepting the Mx 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 has started using the title and HSBC has introduced Mx for some customers and is in the process of including it for all its customers.

Oxford University introduced the title last year and has explained that it is 'the most commonly used and recognised gender neutral title'.

Birmingham, Cambridge and Portsmouth University also use the title as well as UCAS the university admissions service which introduced it for students last July.

SJ Jacobs from the UK's Nonbinary Inclusion Project has been quoted by the Sunday Times as saying that the increased acceptance of Mx as a title was a 'big step forward'.

Jacobs said the inclusion of the title was an important sign of validation for many but that more still needed to be done to make sure other organisations such as IT and fraud prevention services accept the title.

One company was quoted as saying it had not used the term over embarrassment. They were unsure how to pronounce the title.

'Most people pronounce it as "Mux,"' Jacobs said, explaining that it is said with a sort of schwa sound in the middle but a lot of people just spell it out.