December 2, 2015
A new pronoun in the Mx.
by Taylor Sperry
For the Observer, Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke reports that while you were busy eating leftover turkey last weekend, the New York Times was grappling with a potential change to their style guide.
In a story about Bluestockings—the iconic radical bookstore and activist center on New York’s Lower East Side—the Times introduced the gender neutral honorific “Mx.” (pronounced “mix”) to refer to staff member Senia Hardwick, who prefers not to be assigned a gender.
Mx. has become an increasingly popular pronoun in recent years—it’s up for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary—but until usage is more widely-adopted, the Times’ standards editor, Philip B. Corbett, says he’s unlikely to make any clear-cut changes to the paper’s guidelines. Still, that could be sooner than we’d thought when the issue first came up in June (after the Times published a piece about Barnard College’s decision to begin accepting transgender women).
In an e-mail this week, Corbett clarified:
“The two main goals are to be respectful to those we write about, and to be clear to our readers. Usage is still evolving and there’s not one settled or widely recognized set of guidelines . . . In the meantime, we just have to discuss situations case by case.”
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.