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Ask Amy: Forms of address evolve all the way to M

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: How should I address an email or letter to someone I don't know well who uses "they" pronouns? My specific problem is determining how to appropriately address my business emails and letters without assuming excessive familiarity, since I may not know all of the recipients well.

I continue to use "Dear Ms. Surname" and "Dear Mr. Surname" as my default for people who identify as she/her and he/him.

Only today did I realize that I am completely at a loss as to how to be equally considerate of people who identify as they/them. Thank you for your guidance.

– Stumped

Dear Stumped: I love your question!

Remember when “Ms.” was all the rage? As in inciting all the rage?

 

Well, Ms. now seems slightly stodgy.

A gender-neutral form of address that has emerged (to replace Ms. and Mr. and Sir/Madam) is “Mx.”

I like it! It’s got that edgy: “Sorry, I can’t talk right now because I’m out wakeboarding” vibe.

(There are other honorifics to choose from, including the always-elegant “M.”)

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