I love all the world’s cultures. It’s a tribute to North America that unlike much of the Old World, we are not only receptive to other cultures, but very rapid to embrace them in order to enhance our own life experience.

There is however one challenging aspect to a multicultural environment: It’s very difficult to associate gender with many first names.

I just realized this, as we are putting together a large invitation mailer to doctors and pharmacists for a research project. Our project coordinator came to me with about a third of the envelopes unaddressed, and asked if I had any idea as to the salutation we should use. Now, “Doctor” is a great term in English as it is gender neutral. But in French it isn’t, and a female doctor is addressed as “Docteure” in writing. And pharmacists have no special professional salutation, just Mr. or Ms.

Here are just a few of the first names: Houshang, Magdi, Poobalan, Amit, Faisal, Leaggy, Emad, Suk, Shantha, and Hani.

I think we’ll have to develop some genderless salutation, like: “Dear potential study participant”.