South African university drops gender titles because of transgender students
A South African Institution Wits University has dropped gender titles – Mr, Ms. and Mrs. – from all university communication to create a more inclusive environment for students who are transgender‚ non-binary or gender non-conforming.
“Now they can specify the title they would like to have,” says a spokesperson at the university’s Transformation and Employment Equity Office, even if it’s not linked to legal documentation. Explaining the decision, she added:
Addressing somebody by a particular name or title are intrinsically affirming for people who are transgender or gender non-conforming or gender queer.
It makes you part of the university culture if you feel you are visibly appreciated and respected.”
The gender-neutral title “Mx”, which is widely recognized in many countries across the world, is increasingly popular, the university said in a statement.
South Africa’s Gender and Quality Commission has called the change at Wits University “very progressive”, according to news site Eyewitness News, adding they “hope this can be taken forward” nationwide.
This could be a welcoming development in the country and hopefully other top institutions will adopt the system.
It will be quite interesting to know that the Students Union at a UK University, University in Sussex, had in 2017, moved the motion to prevent students from addressing an individual with a title without asking which title they would love to be addressed with.