A Gender-neutral Non-binary Honorific
—-On and envelope or address block on letter or email:
———-Mx. (Full name)
—-The pattern for a couple who have stated their desire to be so addressed, then on an envelope or address block on letter or email is similiar to anyone presenting themselves as a couple:
———-Mx. (Full name)
———-and Mx. (Full name)
—-——–—-Names in alphabetical order by surname:
—-—-———-—-Mx. Taylor Apple
—-—-———-—-and Mx. Jordan Zeffer
—-——Dear Mx. (Surname),
—-——Dear Mx. (Surname) and Mx. (Surname),
—-——–—-Which would look like:
—-—-———-—-Mx. Apple and Mx. Zeffer,
Mx. is an option for those who do not identify as being of a particular gender, or who don’t want to be identified by gender.
But while it is one-honorific-fits-all, don’t address anyone as Mx. (Name) unless they state it’s their preference. It falls into the category of an individual’s preferred honorific like Ms., Mrs., Dr., Professor, Reverend or Pastor, etc.
Mx. or Mx – period or no period? While it is not an abbreviation, if following American style guides, it is written with a period. If following British style guides it is written without a period.
Dear Mr. Hickey,
I just gave a business etiquette presentation to a group of 18 to 21-year-olds. One participant came up after my presentation and asked me to incorporate gender-neutral pronouns in my presentation on forms of address.
Do you have any advice?
A person’s name belongs to them … and if they have a preference on their honorifics or the pronouns used in conversation …. others should follow their preference.
#1) Actually — there aren’t any pronouns in forms of address. Pronouns are used in the third person …. “He is going to Chicago” or “She was once a Rockette” or “They are the first to arrive.”
But even though pronouns aren’t actually forms of address you should use whatever the person presents as their preference when referring to them.
#2) Form of address with gender-specificity are the courtesy titles that start with His/Her/Their ….. Her Excellency, His Holiness, Their Majesties. I’d recommend you use Their for all for those who express that as their preference — Their Excellency, Their Holiness, Their Majesty – though I don’t know of any kings, ambassadors or popes who’ve requested gender neutral honorifics or pronouns thus far.
#3) In terms of honorifics … Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, … ones that imply gender or marital status — I suggest you start with Mr. and Ms. … and if you find out they have a preference … follow their preference … Mrs., Miss, M. … Mx. … whatever they specify.
That’s the current practice. Even the White House offers M., Mx. and (None) on the dropdown menus for specifying honorifics when sending a message to the POTUS on the White House website.
#4) As to an obligation to actively inquire of others their preferences for their honorific and pronouns …. I think it falls into the same pattern as inviting guests for a meal and finding out about allergies or whether there are special needs (e.g., if they are vegan or allergic to shellfish.) When it’s practical it’s considerate of the host to offer, and cooks & caterers can usually accommodate the basics. But when there are limitations of time or because of the number of guests … it is also the obligation of the guest to let the host know their preference — while there is still time to accommodate the preference.
So I’d say it’s considerate to ask about pronouns and honorifics when you have a sense it might be an issue. But it’s equally reasonable for the guest to make their preference known so they can be addressed correctly. More and more often you see a person’s preference noted on the professional email signature block. But not everyone does so and you may be only in touch with someone socially and not see their professional email signature block.