Citizens of Brighton and Hove may no longer be called Mr or Mrs under new plans.
All titles could be scrapped from official council forms and paperwork after transgender activists complained the names forced people to choose between genders
The proposal, which has the backing of Brighton and Hove City Council’s deputy leader Phelim MacCafferty, has been branded “utterly ludicrous” by an opposition councillor.
It comes following an investigation by the council into the lives of the transgender community in the city.
The scrutiny panel is set to put forward a number of recommendations, including the scrapping of Mr and Mrs, to the council for approval in December.
See the report on Brighton and Hove City Council's website.
Coun MacCafferty, who chairs the panel, suggested calling people by their titles on official forms was “completely useless”.
He said: “Trans people aren’t necessarily male or female and sometimes they don’t want to be defined by their gender. Putting Mr and Mrs on a form is completely useless. This is an issue that concerns most institutions from banks to mobile phone companies. Why is Mr on my debit card, for instance? I don’t understand why it’s there. We should at least examine the issue and we will have the recommendations early next month.”
Coun MacCafferty said the change would have to be “done sensitively” and promised the council would “make sure the population is with us” before any change was made.
Steph Scott, an LGBT activist who defines herself as ‘genderqueer’ – neither male nor female – described the titles Mr and Mrs as “extremely outdated”.
She said: “Being called Mr or Mrs forces me to choose between genders. It’s assuming people live in a binary world where you’re either one thing or another and it pigeonholes people. I think it’s a good idea to expand across the city because it’s about getting people to be aware that gender isn’t just male or female.”
The activist said Brighton and Hove City Council had already started addressing people by the gender-neutral title 'Mx' on their tax forms.
But Dawn Barnett, Conservative councillor for Hangleton and Knoll, said: “It’s completely ludicrous and shows a complete lack of respect. How are they going to address letters properly? This is just political correctness gone too far.”
The Trans Equality Scrutiny Panel was set up to examine issues affecting transgendered people’s safety, welfare and job opportunities. It includes chair Coun MacCafferty, Conservative councillor Denise Cobb and Labour councillor Warren Morgan, alongside co-optees Jay Stewart and Michelle Ross.
The panel visited support groups across the city in July to hear about the issues facing the trans community and will present a set of recommendations to the council in December.The newspaper conducted a poll in which 55% of respondents said they wished to be addressed as Mr, 20% as Mrs, 6% as Miss, 5% as Ms and 14% gender neutral. Some of the readers' comments are quite amusing as well.
Back in the real world, the Porte Angevine makes quite an atmospheric picture after dark. Until one knows that the lighted window is of a kebab take-away!