Gender Neutral Honorific to be Added to Oxford English Dictionary

Mx added

The Oxford English Dictionary announced last month that Mx, pronounced “mux” or “mix,” is up for consideration to be added to the next edition of their dictionary. If added, it could provide gender queer people more visibility, more support and a way for people to avoid awkward situations when someone’s gender is not known.

The title would be added to “Mr,” “Mrs” and “Ms” and could be used before the names of people who identity outside of being male and female or if the person’s gender or marital status is unknown.

The title is already commonly used in Britain, according to Mx Advocacy. The organization has documentation showing that British government, banks, utilities and educational facilities have been using Mx for sometime.

People can even get the honorific printed on their driver licenses.

Jonathan Dent, the assistant editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, told The Sunday Times that the term will be the first new honorific to be accepted to the current set of gender identifiers.

Jack Qu’emi, who identifies as gender queer, has mixed feelings about the title being added to the dictionary.

“I can now throw that fact in the faces of those who tell me gender neutral titles aren’t ‘real words,’ but I also know it shouldn’t matter whether the word is in the dictionary are not because language is an ever evolving concept,” Qu’emi said. “I desire to be referred to in a certain way. That should be validated and respected, not put down to ‘Is it in the dictionary?’”

According to the Sunday Times article, Dent said the addition demonstrated how the English language is evolving to accommodate a changing society.

Brent Stanfield, who uses the pronouns “they/them,” is excited about it as a form of recognition, but skeptical about how it will affect word usage.

“I’m still doubtful about whether that will actually increase usage, but I’m glad that it will be a form of validation for the people using it,” Stanfield said.

Stanfield sees a lot of uses for the gender neutral title.

“I think it’s important to have a gender neutral title, especially in the South where it’s very important to address people with a title,” Stanfield said.

Stanfield said the word would especially come in handy when reading academic work and researching writers.

“In my case, I think I see it as very useful for academic work,” Stanfield said. “It would keep the focus on the work instead of having to figure out the gender of every single writer we read.”

Qu’emi said there would be benefits to the word gaining visibility.

“If more people recognized the title, it would mean more people using it,” Qu’emi said. “The rate in which I’m misgendered would probably fall.”

Both Qu’emi and Sanfield said regardless of whether the word is added, they will continue to use it.

“I don’t need the validation of the Oxford English Dictionary to express who I am,” Qu’emi said.


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