Today the mX newspaper will appear on trains in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane for the last time. A News Corp representative said the decision to close the paper was “a reflection of the changing reading habits of commuters who now turn to their mobile phones and tablets on their way to and from work”. While it’s a little sad that those travelling on public transport will no longer have a ready supply of tabloid journalism, word jumbles, and fellow commuters’ gripes to amuse them on their way home, there’s one big reason to celebrate. mX’s closure paves the way for Australia’s use of the similar-looking gender-neutral title Mx.
An alternative to the gendered titles Ms, Mrs, Miss and Mr, the gender-neutral Mx (pronounced ‘mux’ or ‘mix’) allows those people who do not wish to reveal their gender or who do not identify as male or female to select a gender-neutral title not related to some kind of career or qualification (like Justice or Dr). A routine selection for many, those dropdown menus can become very tricky to deal with (and potentially upsetting) if you don’t identify as or qualify for any of the options given. The simple solution is Mx and it has been used increasingly by institutions in the UK for the past few years. You can use the gender-neutral title to get a driver’s license, set up a bank account, to register with the National Health Service and Royal Mail, and to enrol at some universities. Its use has become so prevalent that last month an assistant editor of the OED, Jonathan Dent, said that they were considering including it in the third edition.
Australia is yet to provide its population with the option of using Mx and we hope here at Fully (sic) that the closing of mX will help encourage the title’s use. Indeed, ABC news reported that the paper’s existence was a key argument against its adoption. While we know that Mx’s uptake won’t be immediate (after all, you have to give people a bit of time to forget that their much-loved afternoon reading ever existed), we’re really looking forward to the day we report to you that the Macquarie Dictionary’s entry for Mx has been updated to include more than its current definition of ‘maxwell’.