10 Things people ask about the GoTitleFree campaign…

The GoTitleFree team is often asked the same things when talking about our work with people.

We thought we’d share our answers with our community, just in case you’re ever asked what GoTitleFree is all about, and why you support us! x

1. Do you want people to give up their titles? 

No. Identity is so personal. Authentic identity is so important. GoTitleFree is not demanding that people stop thinking of themselves as a ‘Mr’ or a ‘Miss’ etc. if it suits them.

We are not taking gender away from those who want it.

We are not campaigning against the institution of marriage.

We support everyone who wants to identify as male, female, married – or any other status which truly represents them.  

 

2. Why does it focus on challenging businesses? 

Because besides greetings cards from relatives, the only place we see marital status titles, is when a business contacts us by phone or letter, or when we’re registering for something online.  

Our legal identity doesn’t even include a title. There is no title on your passport. Just a first name and a surname. Titles are purely social, and since starting the GoTitleFree campaign in 2018, we have not uncovered a single reason why an organisation should need to know this information from you.  

We do not believe it’s fair that businesses should gather a piece of information about a woman that they cannot possibly gather on a man.  

We do not believe that anybody should be forced to select a gender, or any identity option, which doesn’t truly represent them. And for the 270,000 non-binary people in the UK, the constant requests for titles are a huge problem

 

3. Is this about married women changing their surnames? 

No. We think surnames are less of a problem. Surnames are gender free. Surnames are marital status free. Surnames can be chosen. Businesses give us a free text box to type them in, and if we want to change our surname to anything in the world, we can, and a business will allow us to use it.  

We know that the tradition of women taking a man’s surname upon marriage is a problem, but we feel that titles are a completely different problem, and arguably a bigger one.
 

4. Is the campaign about professional titles? 

No. Professional titles are attained, and are less attached to gender.  

We respond to tweets and messages every day from women who are delighted to have attained the title of ‘Doctor’… because it means that they no longer have to bow to the assumptions connected to their previous female title.  

(It’s worth adding that we have never once seen a tweet or message from a man saying how relieved he is to have attained the title of ‘Dr’ for the reason that he can now use the title instead of ‘Mr’…)
 

5. What is the campaign’s stance on noble titles and honorifics like ‘Dame’, ‘Marquess’, ‘Earl’, ‘Viscount’ etc.? 

Our July 2020 blog interviewing a Reader of Feminist History, Amy L. Erickson, covered how all titles are borne out of a quest for status, and she spoke of how she discouraged her students from assuming the title of ‘Dr’ and using it everywhere.  

If titles are truly about desire for status, then the removal of them would help us towards a much more egalitarian society. – And isn’t that the way things should be?  

We would like to see a world where everybody is treated fairly, and that nobody has privileges because of their title.  

Thankfully, not many drop-down boxes include noble titles etc. But we have seen it. And far too often! 

Our main focus is getting the ‘Miss’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Ms’ and ‘Mr’ box taken down.
 

6. Doesn’t the title ‘Ms’ give an equal option to women? Isn’t ‘Ms’ the equivalent to ‘Mr’? 

No.  

Many people still don’t know what ‘Ms’ means.  

Most of our Twitter conversations are correcting people who tweet attempting to educate the Twittersphere that ‘Ms’ means ‘lesbian’, or ‘divorced’, ‘old’, ‘spinster’, ‘widowed’, ‘none of your business’ (aggressive)… the list goes on.  

There are many requests for advice on how to even pronounce ‘Ms’. 

There are no presumptions around ‘Mr’ regarding age, sexuality, availability or attitude. And so we don’t think ‘Ms’ is a fair and equal equivalent.
 

7. Why don’t you like ‘Mx’ either? 

Based on the continued confusion around ‘Ms’ which has existed a little longer, we have low expectations that society will use ‘Mx’ correctly and when necessary.  

‘Mx’ also doesn’t even tell businesses anything about the person completing the form. They may be selecting it for so many reasons.  

We feel that by adding ‘Mx’ to the list is an admission that the list no longer effectively serves our modern society, and that therefore removing the list is a better and simpler way to address the problem and give people true freedom.
 

8. Is going title free easy? 

For some smaller businesses, perhaps. They can remove the drop-down box and their CRM systems and simply stop collecting the data. Making sure that customer service teams understand why it’s happening will be less of a training challenge.  

For larger businesses who have complex communication strategies, they may need to unpick a larger number of automated references to titles. They may have a larger number of external services who may still ask for titles. Big organisations will need to decide what to do with the existing title data that they have, and train larger customer service/ front of house teams on how to have gender inclusive conversations.  

But we’re here to help. The GoTitleFree team regularly runs ‘Train the Trainer’ sessions to equip Heads of Customer Services with easy ways of ensuring that their teams are ready. 

Organisations who want to discuss or book a session can contact us on: info@gotitlefree.org

9. How would a title free world actually work? 

  • If we remove titles from conversations, what do we replace them with?  
  • How can we continue to be formal and polite without titles? 
  • If I don’t want to call somebody by their first name, what do I do? 

– These are all questions we’ve been asked by people dealing with customers. School and Doctor’s Administration staff. Customer Care Centre teams.  

We understand these worries, and have several crucial and really easy solutions which we’ll be talking to employers about at our free event at 3.30pm BST on 9th September 2022:

“Who is going title free? – Examples and best practice case studies”

Here is the link to register for the event and to join us:

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcpd-GqrT4vGNSOvH8eKE7KDqaY–oHjOvF

10. If this is for businesses, is there nothing people can do as individuals? 

Of course there is. We know that challenging businesses one at a time is tough. When you see a drop-down box, there isn’t always a way of immediately protesting.

Our experiences of asking customer service contacts to remove titles sometimes works, but sometimes leads to being transferred to a manager, or a different team, only to be re-read the limited options again.  But please do ask! Do keep challenging organisations when they demand this information from you. 

You can also: 

  • Sign our petition 
  • Share our campaign with your networks – especially businesses who ask you for your title! 

Find our more about other ways you can help here. 

Thank you. And see you soon in a title free world!

Stella Sutcliffe

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