Well, not so new actually as it was first used in 1977 but it has entered the Oxford English Dictionary (as have words like selfie and twerk….).
So in addition to Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, Prof and Rev, there is now going to be Mx. Mx (pronounced mux or spelled out as em ex) is for those people who feel they are of a third gender or do not fit into the other two gender categories – these could be the pangenered, non-binary, agendered, transsexual, gender neutral, gender fluid, gender queer.
Royal Mail and government authorities in the UK are rolling out this new title in online forms at the moment and several universities have been using this for quite some time.
Having lived in Sweden for about 17 years now I am used to not having titles at all. Swedes do not use titles for anyone except the royal family. And when I have taught within the royal family, I have not had to use titles at all. It does not feel strange – everyone is equal. Recently a single personal pronoun ‘hen’ has replaced the previous pronouns for men (han) and women (hon). Swedes are often baffled by the use of titles by other countries. I tend to explain that it is a way of showing respect and establishing formal relationships and hierarchy. Which is even more baffling because Sweden has very flat organisational structures and very little hierarchy. If you phone a Judge of the Supreme Court he will answer his own phone.
So for me reading this it seems strange to add another title to the mix rather than taking all the titles away and replacing them with Mx or nothing. There are very few times when you need to know someone’s gender. For statistics perhaps, or in the medical field. And in your passport for identification purposes. But certainly not at work or the bank.
I have always had a career, I have always supported myself and, until recently, worked in fields dominated by men. I am not an ardent feminist. I don’t mind if people say chairman or spokesman instead of the gender neutral terms of chair/chairperson and spokesperson. I think the addition of a title covering a group of people who previously did not fit into the two-gender model is a good thing. But the addition of another title to the mix will certainly serve to define people who for the most part do not wish to be defined or pigeonholed.
What do you think? Is Mx a good way to go? Do you think titles are good?