Gender neutral titles

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A gender neutral title is an alternative to the gendered honorifics Miss, Mrs, Ms and Mr, for people who don't fit the gender binary and therefore don't feel that a gendered title fits their identity. It is used in formal situations when it is inappropriate to refer to someone by their first or last name only.

For the most part, gender neutral titles without qualification/career connotations are not recognised by the general public or businesses/organisations. Activists and supporters are working toward awareness and acceptance of alternative titles. The generally accepted gender neutral titles are associated with qualifications and careers, such as Dr (Doctor) and Rev (Reverend).

For some nonbinary folk, being referred to with a gendered title can trigger gender dysphoria.

Contents

Changing your title

United Kingdom

A UK-specific Statutory Declaration template for title change to 'Mx'

A Deed Poll can be used to change your name and/or your title free of charge, if you can get two witnesses together.

A Statutory Declaration of title change (see image of template to the right) can be drawn up and presented to a regular solicitor to witness/sign for a cost of approximately £10.00 (this usually includes a couple of legal copies); having the solicitor draw the document up for you may incur a much higher cost (£70.00+). You do not usually need to make an appointment for this service as the process only takes a few minutes.

The Deed Poll Service notes that “There's no need to follow any formal procedure (such a executing a Deed Poll) if you only wish to change your title. You simply need to start using your new title and notify all the record holders that you have changed it.”[1]

Neutral/inclusive titles

List in alphabetical order.

Ind

Ind is short for "Individual". Coined by Torin Unrealisk in 2014.[1] This title may be more appropriate for those who do not feel "mixed gender" implied titles meets their gender-neutral standards. Ind was designed to be entirely free of gender, thus making it an attractive option for agender and gender nonconforming persons.[2]

Kaiet

In fiction by Janet Ganus, Kaiet is the gender-neutral equivalent of Mr and Ms. The plural form of it is Kaieti, the gender-neutral equivalent of ladies and gentlemen. These titles go with Ganus's gender-neutral pronoun set kai, kaim, kais, kaiself.[3]

M

Pronounced em, like the letter. Meant to be a neutral title that is not based off "mixing" binary genders. One potential problem is conflation with the French "M." for "Monsieur," a masculine title. [2][3]

Misc

Pronounced misk. The roots are interesting. The word miscellaneous comes from the Latin *miscellus*, meaning “mixed,” following the rationale that a lot of genderqueer people would say that they have aspects of various genders at various times.

Example: Misc Sam Smith, Misc Smith.

First mention in January 2011.

Mre

Pronounced mystery or misstree. A play on non-binary gender often being perceived as "mysterious." One potential problem is that it contains the "mister" and "miss" sounds in the beginning. In 2001, Liz Menzel wrote, "As Mr. is short for Mister, and Mrs. was once short for Mistress, how about Mre., for 'Mistree' (or I suppose for 'mystery,' for those who demand their spelling)."[4]

Msr

Pronounced misser. [4]

Mx

Originally pronounced mux, but now sometimes mix or mixter. The x acts as a wild card, taking the usual title format of Mr and Ms and putting in an x to remove the gender in the title. The title was intended as one that expresses no gender, rather than a specifically genderqueer title, and thus can be used by anyone regardless of gender/trans* identity.[5]

Example: Mx Sam Smith, Mx Smith.

Nat Titman spoke about the origins of Mx and their preferences in question 23 of the Beyond the Binary interview series:

"I liked Mx better when I first saw it being used around the turn of the millennium when it was described as a gender non-specific title that could be used for anyone, where the x was intended as a wildcard that could match any other title, much like the asterisk on ‘trans*’. At that time it had the suggested pronunciation of ‘mux’. It wasn’t until 2002 that I saw people claiming that it’s pronounced ‘mixture’ but could be shortened to ‘mix’ (with others on the mailing list expressing surprise and disagreement with this), and several years more until ‘mixter’ was mentioned.
"In practical terms, I’ve found that in many accents ‘mix’ sounds too much like ‘miss’ when pronounced and ‘mixture’ is even more prone to sounding like ‘mister’, so the original ‘mux’ pronunciation may be more distinctive, although possibly less recognisable as a title (although it’s not that far from the way Ms often ends up pronounced ‘mus’ or ‘muz’)."

Two of the most common ways to change ones name in the UK is by Statutory Declaration or via the UK Deedpoll Service; the latter offers the option of including the 'Mx' title as part of a name change, or as a standalone service. Their website [5] includes the following; In October 2011, we introduced the title of Mx (pronounced Mix) as an option for people who do not identify themselves as either male or female and, therefore, feel a gender specific title such as Mr or Miss is inappropriate and unsuitable for them. We are unable to guarantee that all record holders (i.e. government departments, companies and organisations that hold your personal records) will recognise your new title but we believe many will and in time all will. Initially, the problem will be record holders’ computer systems not being able to accept Mx as a title but when a significant number of people request record holders show their title as Mx a tipping point will be reached causing record holders to reprogram their systems to accommodate Mx as a title [6].

In a July 2011 survey involving over 2,000 nonbinary respondents, Mx was the most popular gender-inclusive title, and was second to Ms overall; when a title is mandatory, 37% of respondents chose Mx, though the commentary points out that "lots of people said they had answered according to titles that are often available on forms, and that titles such as Mx and Per are rarely available on said forms."

Pr

Pronounced "per" and is intended as an abbreviation of "person".

"Per" as a personal pronoun replaces gendered personal pronouns "his" and "her" in the future of Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

Ser

Pronounced sair, to rhyme with hair. A neutralisation of the word "Sir" that's been used sporadically in works of fiction such as Greg Bear's The Way novels, and the Dragon Age series of video games. Due to this wider exposure, it seems to more readily "click" into place for certain people.

See Also

External Links

References

  1. Torin Unrealisk (minimalistfish). http://minimalistfish.tumblr.com/post/102483931685/torin-unrealisk-thank-you-for-what-you-wrote
  2. Torin Unrealisk (minimalistfish). http://minimalistfish.tumblr.com/post/76750503799/ind-as-a-gender-neutral-title
  3. https://web.archive.org/web/20070310125817/http://aetherlumina.com/gnp/references.html
  4. https://web.archive.org/web/20070310125817/http://aetherlumina.com/gnp/references.html
  5. Beyond the Binary: question 23 - What do you think about Mx?, dated July 8, 2013.
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