You just can't make this stuff up! When I thought political correctness and queer sensitivity could not get any more ridiculous, it did. This is a press release from the University of Tennessee:
Inclusive Practice: Pronoun Usage
By Donna Braquet, Director of the Pride CenterWhile this is said to be voluntary and just a suggestion, you can be sure that at some point, and probably pretty soon, this will become the norm for the University. Then you can expect it to become the norm in companies that do business with UT and when UT graduates enter the work force, it will spread to the general population.
With the new semester beginning and an influx of new students on campus, it is important to participate in making our campus welcoming and inclusive for all. One way to do that is to use a student’s chosen name and their correct pronouns.
We should not assume someone’s gender by their appearance, nor by what is listed on a roster or in student information systems. Transgender people and people who do not identity within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth.
IntroductionsIn the first weeks of classes, instead of calling roll, ask everyone to provide their name and pronouns. This ensures you are not singling out transgender or non-binary students. The name a student uses may not be the one on the official roster, and the roster name may not be the same gender as the one the student now uses.
This practice works outside of the classroom as well. You can start meetings with requesting introductions that include names and pronouns, introduce yourself with your name and chosen pronouns, or when providing nametags, ask attendees to write in their name and pronouns.
Gender-neutral pronounsWe are familiar with the singular pronouns she, her, hers and he, him, his, but those are not the only singular pronouns. In fact, there are dozens of gender-neutral pronouns.
A few of the most common singular gender-neutral pronouns are they, them, their (used as singular), ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.
These may sound a little funny at first, but only because they are new. The she and he pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze when growing up.
How do you know?How do you know what pronoun someone uses? If you cannot use the methods mentioned above, you can always politely ask. “Oh, nice to meet you, [insert name]. What pronouns should I use?” is a perfectly fine question to ask.
The more we make sharing of pronouns a universal practice, the more inclusive we will be as a campus. When our organizational culture shifts to where asking for chosen names and pronouns is the standard practice, it alleviates a heavy burden for persons already marginalized by their gender expression or identity.
Learn moreTo learn more about gender identity, gender-neutral pronouns, or transgender topics, consider signing up for a Safe Zone workshop at safezone.utk.edu.
In my professional life, I have on occasion succumbed to the fashion of using the awkward "he/she," especially when writing grants. I did not want to lose points in a grant application because some politically correct person may be reviewing my grant proposal. The use of "he/she" has been pretty much standard government-speak for about twenty years. So, instead of using the singular pronoun in a sentence, such as "everyone brought his lunch," I would use the awkward, "everyone brought his/her lunch," or use the plural form and say, "they all brought their lunch."
It was bad enough just not trying to offend people who thought that "his or he" were sexist pronouns. Now one must be concerned about people who think they are neither "he" nor "she" and want to change the language to reflect that nonsense. If the University of Tennessee has enough money to try to change the culture by inventing new politically correct pronouns, the University of Tennessee has too much money.
The state legislature should reduce the funding for the University of Tennessee by the amount of money going to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the governor should replace the members of the UT Board of Trustees and put people on the Board who will not tolerate such silliness. Donna Braquet should lose zir job and zir position should be eliminated.