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College group recommends avoiding ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ — suggests ‘Mx.’ instead

Also avoid ‘he or she’ and ‘son or daughter,’ guidelines state

A group at Williams College recently called for the campus community to stop using the terms “Mr.” and “Mrs.” and instead use “Mx.” in an effort to be more inclusive.

It was one suggestion among a list of guidelines recently approved by the Trans Inclusion Committee at Williams College, The Williams Record reports.

“The guidelines offer tips and suggestions for those in certain contexts. For example, instead of using binary gender honorifics – ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ – for individual or group communication, TIC suggests not using any honorifics, using an inclusive honorific, such as ‘Mx.’ or asking people’s preferences,” the Record reports.

The committee was founded within the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity and is headed by Emery Shriver and Amanda Turner, both of whom declined to comment on the passing of the new guidelines or provide a copy of the full set of best practices to The College Fix.

A campus spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from The Fix.

A list of Communication Best Practices found on the Williams College Gender and Sexuality Resource Center website does state that instead of using “Mr.” or “Mrs.” one can use the “Mx.” or “use no honorifics” or “ask which honorifics people use before writing.”

The list also suggests avoiding “binary pronouns,” such as “he or she” and “son or daughter.”

The guidelines were crafted during the Fall 2018 semester when the committee realized there are “microaggressions” in normal conversations and communications toward non-binary members of the college, the Record reports.

The move to use non-binary terms such as “Mx.” has been found in other contexts on college campuses across the nation as well. For example, many in higher education commonly replace “Latino” with “Latinx.” The word “woman” is often switched to “womyn” as well.

According to the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, similar best practices “are what institutions should strive for in addressing the needs of trans students—that is, students whose self identification or expression challenges traditional notions of ‘male’ and ‘female.’ Under this umbrella term are female-to-male (FTM) and male-to-female (MTF) transgender people, crossdressers, genderqueer individuals, and people with many other nonbinary gender identities.”

MORE: Articles about the “Latinx” trend

MORE: Professor tells students not to use term ‘he’ without adding ‘she’

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About the Author
Maddison Meeks -- University of Colorado, Boulder