Colleges and Gender Neutral Language
Written by Juliana Bringer. Media by Mary Todd Christian.
Recently, colleges and universities across the U.S have begun using gender neutral language instead of the usual he/she pronouns. Just to name a few, Harvard, Vanderbilt, and the University of Tennessee have all begun using gender neutral language. Gender neutral pronouns are used when a person’s gender is unknown or that person does not identify as female or male. These colleges and universities are allowing students to choose what pronouns they prefer to be recognized as.
Gender neutral pronouns are not widely known, and learning to use them may be difficult at first because they are new. I know when I first came across a gender-neutral pronoun, I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Instead of “he” or “she”, the term used would be “ze” or “xe”. However, they are beginning to surface and become more prevalent especially now that transgenders and nonbinaries are becoming more accepted in today’s society.
The director of the University of Tennessee’s Pride Center, Donna Braquet said, “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 identify 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.” In statements released, Donna noticeably identifies with “ze”. Ze goes on further to explain how the University of Texas implements the learning and acceptance of gender-neutral pronouns. Instead of doing a regular roll call, they ask each student to give their preferred name and gender pronoun at the beginning of the class.
But is the acceptance and allowance of gender neutral language the right thing to do? Personally, I believe it is. Not only does it give freedom to transgenders and nonbinaries, it could also lead to a better inclusion of all genders. I believe that the use of gender-neutral pronouns in all things would be a good idea. Yes, it is something that all of us would have to learn and relearn. However, does that mean we should ignore it? No, it doesn’t. There are even Bibles being released with gender neutral pronouns. No, they may not be using “ze” or “xe”, but they are refraining from using a gendered pronoun for an unspecified person.
Basically, it all comes down to respect. We should respect a person’s decision to use whatever name or pronoun they feel most comfortable with. God wants us to love everyone even if we disagree with their decisions. If someone wants to be identified by “ze” or “xe”, then do so. It will show the person that you care enough about them to let them be themselves.
I know when I first came across gender-neutral pronouns, I didn’t recognize them for what they were. Instead of “he” or “she”, the term used would be “ze” or “xe”.