STEVEN PETROW | OPINION COLUMNIST | 7:00 am EST February 28, 2019 USA TODAY
Maddie Luebbert teaches 9th grade English in a Philadelphia public school and, according to a recent NBC News report, is much admired by the students. As in most public schools, the teachers use “Mr.” or “Ms.” (and sometimes, “Mrs.”) as their title when addressed by students. Luebbert, 25, prefers “Mx.” (pronounced “mix”), a gender-neutral alternative to the usual titles. Luebbert herself identifies as “nonbinary” — which is to say neither male nor female.
Say what? Mx.
Most Americans haven’t come across this title yet, likely for two reasons. Other than teachers, doctors, professors and members of the clergy, we generally don’t use courtesy titles — or what are also known as honorifics — anymore. The second reason: It’s only in the past handful of years in this country that as more people who identify as gender nonconforming, nonbinary or transgender come out, Mx. has gained some currency as the gender-neutral cousin to Ms.
But it’s time to add Mx. into the daily mix of titles we use. In considering the addition of Mx. to the OxfordDictionaries.com, published by the venerable Oxford English Dictionary, its assistant editor explained in the London Times, “This is an example of how the English language adapts to people’s needs, with people using language in ways that suit them rather than letting language dictate identity to them.”
'Ms.' sets a good precedent
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