Life

Gender-neutral prefix could soon replace 'Mr' and Ms'

Posted by
Harriet Hall
Published

Things that drive us mad: Getting a letter delivered to Miss something or, even worse, one delivered to Mrs (insert husband’s full name).

Why must our prefix be defined by our marital status?

But lately, the decision of whether to refer to someone as Miss, Mrs or Ms has been far less problematic, than the question of how to refer to someone who doesn’t identify as the gender into which they were born.

A new entry on Dictionary.com is seeking to change all that.

In the 1970s, the new pronoun, Mx (pron: mix), was proposed, but it seemed to simmer in the background and was never fully adopted.

Today, however, with society’s increased awareness of the complexities behind individuals’ sexual identities, thanks to transgender celebrities like Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox and Caitlin Jenner, there feels more of a need to introduce such a term.

According to Time, the etymology of the word comes from the ‘M’ which appears in all traditional male and female prefixes, and the ‘X’ represents an unknown entity.

ruby rose

Actor and DJ, Ruby Rose, is gender fluid

Mx can be applied to refer to people who consider themselves gender fluid (identifying as neither man nor woman), people who are bigender (have two genders), asgender (genderless) or even transgender.

The honorific might also be adopted by those who don’t want their gender to define them.

Speaking to Time, Dictionary.com’s editor, Ben Zimmer, says that they added the word onto their site, because the lack of a gender-neutral pronoun has “caused a lot of headache over the years.”

“We’re starting to see a real cultural shift in which people are talking more openly about gender. You have ongoing conversation about gender in the public eye,” he says.

 “The need for a gender-neutral prefix seems to be very, very top of mind for people.”

The term seems to be a reflection of society’s increasing acceptance of the complexities of many people’s gender identities.

Also added to Dictionary.com, were the terms Digital Wallet, to reference Apple pay, and on fleek, meaning spot on.