New Delhi: A little over a month after Oxford English Dictionary announced that it would include gender-neutral honorific Mx (instead of Mrs, Mr, Miss or Ms) in its next edition, Nalsar University of Law, Hyderabad, has used the honorific in a graduation certificate for a student who didn’t want to be identified by gender.

Mx, pronounced mix, presents a viable option to both transgenders as well as those who do not want to be identified by gender. The decision was taken by the Hyderabad-based institute after the student requested the administration to change the title in the transcript.

According to LegallyIndia.com, which got in touch with the student, getting this change was quite effortless. “I asked the Nalsar administration to use Mx because I did not see any reason why my transcripts or academic records needed to carry markers of my gender identity, especially given that I am still uncertain as to how I wish to be identified," the student said.

Nalsar convenor of the academics and examinations committee Amita Dhanda said the decision has given students another option to identify themselves. “The university takes a progressive line on issues related to identity and gender. So far the change has just been made in the student’s certificate but it might be used in the future as well," Dhanda said. She said the university’s decision is in accordance with current scientific and social discourse on gender.

It all started when the university sent out emails with provisional transcripts and asked students to mail back with corrections, if required. When the student requested the change, the department made the change with no fuss.

The student was quoted as saying, “While this is all, at one level, rather superficial... in the absence of any concrete efforts to increase access for trans (transgender) students, it is nonetheless a recognition of gender fluidity, and that’s a good place to begin."

Asha Bajpai, professor of law at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), said what matters is whether this step makes a real difference in practice. “This decision shows gender is not relevant. A person’s performance is what is important. And it is a good move, but it will take a long time to change the normal practice. It shouldn’t have the same fate as Ms," she said.

The honorific Ms was introduced by the American Heritage School Dictionary in 1972 for women who did not want to be addressed in a way that identifies their marital status. But even now, Mrs and Miss continue to be widely used.

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