After being given some official support via an addition to Dictionary.com at the end of last year, Mx, the gender-neutral prefix first proposed in the 1970s, has now finally been adopted by a key local authority.
Oxford City Council has revealed that the honorific (pronounced ‘mix’) will be added to all official forms, appearing alongside Ms, Mrs, Miss and Mr, in a move by councillors to be more inclusive of gender diversity.
The addition follows a review carried out by the council’s Equality and Diversity Group, along with a complaint from Caroline Jordan, headteacher at Headington School in Oxford, who is calling for more neutral terminology to be also used within schools.
During the review, the group found that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff felt reluctant to reveal their sexuality in internal surveys, prompting action to make the council’s policies more inclusive.
Talking to the Independent, Councillor Tom Haynes, Vice-Chair of Oxford City Council Scrutiny Committee, says: “The council’s workforce has been changing to look more like the diverse communities that it serves.
“Good policies have helped to bring this about and tackle discrimination but further improvements are possible. In particular, the Council can take practical steps to build a workplace that’s friendlier to transgender employees, and how we gather together personal information on employees is central to that.”
While Mx is already an option on paperwork at some high street banks, universities, government departments and at the DVLA, and was also introduced to forms by Brighton and Hove City Council in 2013, LGBT advocates have applauded the move by Oxford City Council given its status as one of the largest councils in the country.
“It is great to see Oxford City Council making positive steps to include non-binary people,” says Sarah Gibson, Assistant Editor at Beyond the Binary. “The existence of non-binary people is still largely ignored but there is a strong impetus for change with increasing numbers of non-binary people and improving awareness.
“More and more organisations are adopting the gender neutral title 'Mx' in a similar way to the now commonplace 'Ms'. Something as simple as being able to use the correct title can have a large impact on someone's life.”
According to Time, the etymology of Mx comes from the fusing the ‘M’ used in all traditional male and female titles, with an ‘x’ to denote the unknown, as used in mathematics.
The title is regularly used by trans people and those who consider themselves gender fluid, but can also be adopted by anyone who simply prefers not to be defined by their gender.