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to write to the NHS using just my initials and to expect them not to assume I'm a Mr.

(120 Posts)
RedToothBrush Tue 22-Jan-13 08:04:17

I have made five FOI requests in the last month, using my initial and no title.

Two of the responses (so far) I've had have been addressed to Mr.

AIBU to think that I should be allowed not to state my gender and marital status when making formal and official enquiries and to simply be addressed as I have titled myself.

Is this really too much to ask or expect?

Parly Tue 22-Jan-13 10:38:51

Not indicating a title / gender and just signing off with initials is such an arsey thing to do.

cocoachannel Tue 22-Jan-13 10:38:57

Are these requests for different pieces of information? I hope it is very, very important - do you have any idea how much resource is wasted on FOI? Especially when idiots people don't take the time to understand the Act and enter requests which still have to be processed even though the information is exempt.

Grr. Pet peeve of mine having seen the cost working with a few public bodies!

EmmelineGoulden Tue 22-Jan-13 10:41:27

YouOld I didn't say it was sexist to use a title, though I think defaulting to male is. I'm saying that the fact that something is traditional or a custom does not make it good or right or sensible. Insisting on using a title when none has been given seems rude to me as well as a bit foolish. As a custom it seems inevitably to lead to either having lots of "/" or "or"s (which is tiresome to read), or guessing incorrectly.

Why is it petty to not give your gender? Is there other personal information are you required to divulge that is of no practical use to the organization you're writing to?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 22-Jan-13 10:58:40

"Why is it petty to not give your gender? "

It's petty - and rather confrontational - not to give your gender five times in a row, knowing that the organisation defaults to Mr, and then feigning indignance. Like dressing a baby head to foot in blue and making a big song and dance when everyone assumes it's a boy...

StuntGirl Tue 22-Jan-13 11:00:42

YANBU to want to be addressed as you have sent your letters.

However, depending on whether these were different departments their system may not allow them not to put a title, and Mr is usually the first in a drop down menu. Although on our system the first option is Lady grin

Scholes34 Tue 22-Jan-13 11:01:17

If you're from the old school, properly trained in secretarial work (RSA exams, etc), rather than someone just with keyboard skills, you'll always use a title in a letter and in an address because this is the correct this to do and in the absence of knowing the gender of the person you're writing to, the default setting is Mr.

I truly hope the FOI requests are worthy of the amount of time someone has had to put into finding out the information and that it will be put to good, relevant use.

EmmelineGoulden Tue 22-Jan-13 11:01:45

How has the OP been confrontational? I just don't see how using your initials rather than a title and initials is confrontational or petty. It's how the OP signs off. Why does the organization have to do it differently? Three out of the five requests have been responded to just fine without making assumptions about gender.

TheCraicDealer Tue 22-Jan-13 11:03:19

Unfortunately StuntGirl this simple explanation prevents the OP and others from taking offence, so it's been largely ignored.

Thewhingingdefective Tue 22-Jan-13 11:05:19

OP YANBU, however some other people getting worked up on here are.

CaptainVonTrapp Tue 22-Jan-13 11:25:16

PessaryPam this is a choice when you set up your bank account. (certainly now perhaps not then) That either person can do anything without the others say so or one must ask the other.

Why the fuck shouldn't the OP make 5 FOI requests? She may have a perfectly legitimate reason.

cocoachannel Tue 22-Jan-13 11:30:14

She might have perfectly legitimate reasons for them. Sadly many people use FOI for sport.

YouOldSlag Tue 22-Jan-13 11:32:05

OP, did you refuse to give them your DOB as well in case they might be ageist? Did you refuse to give your address as it was none of their business? If you want them to locate a file for you, you have to help them out a bit.

I have no idea why you withheld your gender. It's not exactly none of their business if they are trying to pinpoint your details and snure they have teh right file. You are just being difficult.

I'd rather be addressed as Ms Doe rather than Dear J.Doe.

Dear J.Doe sounds like a clumsy school pupil's mistake in an English lesson.

LessMissAbs Tue 22-Jan-13 11:32:25

Theres no reason to give a gender when writing a letter. I quite often come across emails and letters in my work from people who have not given a gender - I have no idea which sex they are, and rather than assume they are a man, I go with "Sir/Madam" or similar. I often wonder if some women in positions of power do this deliberately, in order to gauge the response. Or perhaps because they think by admitting to female, there may be some negative response/less attention paid?

If drop-down menus are designed to default to "Mr" then they should be re-designed. It certainly wouldn't be acceptable to assume everyone was British, or under 65, for example, so why it should be considered acceptable to assume someone is a male unless they notify you otherwise, is illogical.

I actually think there are statistically more women in the UK than men, so even more illogical to assume the writer of a letter is male if no gender is given in the title.

YouOldSlag Tue 22-Jan-13 11:38:11

LessMissAbs, I actually agree that the dropdown menu should revert to Dear Sir/Madam, and your point is well put.

However if the OP refused to give a title or clue, she can hardly get all huffy when 2 out of 5 requests address her as Mr.

Even if you have an androgynous name such as Alex or Sam, its not hard to write Ms Sam Bloggs or Ms Alex Bloggs.

It's madness to withhold gender when someone will be sending you an entire medical file with all your personal details in, yet you don't want them to know if you are male or female. It's just being awkward for the sake of it.

SorrelForbes Tue 22-Jan-13 12:14:01

It's madness to withhold gender when someone will be sending you an entire medical file with all your personal details in, yet you don't want them to know if you are male or female. It's just being awkward for the sake of it.

A request under FOI would not be for personal details.

BitOutOfPractice Tue 22-Jan-13 12:20:40

Are you trying to make a point? Test them? I don't understand why you would purposely make it hard for them to get it right, then complain when they get it wrong. Are you determined to be all indignant and affronted?

What are your reasons for them not wanting to not let them know your gender? I'm curious

EmmelineGoulden Tue 22-Jan-13 13:00:24

It isn't the OP that is making it hard - it's the organization that has made it hard for themselves by insisting on using a title. Plenty of people must write to them without using a title. There will be quite a few situations where they won't know what gender the writer is - ambiguous forenames, names from cultures they aren't familiar with. A default assignment of a gendered title is rude, even when it's forced by a computer system (computer systems don't just write themselves - in those cases people will have spent a lot of time designing it and others a lot of time evaluating it).

projectbabyweight Tue 22-Jan-13 13:06:01

Agreed Emmeline.

Pigsmummy Tue 22-Jan-13 13:18:39

If you wrote tothem with just initials then YABU. Surely your title isn't a secret is it? ...............(gets excited thinking maybe that you are Royalty?)

Scholes34 Tue 22-Jan-13 13:21:14

I really don't know why the OP is getting huffy about this. I'd much rather have a letter addressed to Mr Scholes34 than Scholes34 and if the computer is set to default to Dear Sir or Madam instead if no title is available, I hope it will also default to Yours faithfully at the end of the letter too.

It's correct to use a title. Unfortunately, OP didn't give one with the FOI request.

I get the impression that the OP has lots of time with not a lot to fill it.

PaellaUmbrella Tue 22-Jan-13 13:44:02


Having worked in various customer service roles using various computer systems, I'm willing to bet that they have to select a title from a drop down list in order to issue you a reply.

Whatever they select, they run the risk of getting it wrong if you haven't specified your own title.

Until somebody invents a genderless title for addressing people, there's not a lot that can be done. other than you being a bit more reasonable and signing off the way you wish to be addressed

PessaryPam Tue 22-Jan-13 14:26:50

Dear Citizen XYZ would do it maybe.

houseelfdobby Tue 22-Jan-13 14:34:09


In the UK, there are 31.029m men and 32.153m women.

As there are more women than men, the female title "Ms" should logically be the default option.

But really let's get rid of those titles. Ideally, they should have put Dear J Smith.

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 22-Jan-13 14:35:37

I did a mail merge for my employer (local council) yesterday. I went through it very carefully, checking addresses were formatted correctly, names looked sensible etc. I did this because I am conscientious and, thankfully, it was a manageable number of letters.

There were two people who had only given their initials. There was no indication whatsoever of their gender. My choice was either to write "Mr/Ms" - in which case they would probably have got cross because they would undoubtedly have turned out to be best friends with their local Councillor and expect a more personal service. Or I could write "Mr" (which I was also taught was the default in case of uncertainty). Or nothing, which would also have been wrong.

I went for "Mr". So shoot me.

CelticPromise Tue 22-Jan-13 14:36:52

They could just write e.g. Dear C Promise, no need for a title. It's not the OP making things difficult.

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