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University Institutes Gender-Neutral Pronoun Policy

Carrie Dedrick | Updated: Aug 31, 2015

University Institutes Gender-Neutral Pronoun Policy

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus is asking professors to use gender-neutral pronouns to make the campus more welcoming to transgender students. A document from the university’s Office of Diversity says professors should call students by the name and pronoun of their choosing. 

Donna Braquet, of the Office of Diversity wrote, "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."

Gender neutral pronouns include, ze, hir, zir, xe, xem and xyr, according to Charisma News

Braquet continued, "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."

According to the university’s new protocol, professors should not call roll according to the class roster, but ask each student to provide the name they wish to be called and the pronoun they prefer. 

Braquet wrote, "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."

The policy has been met with criticism by many in the area, including Republican State Sen. Mae Beavers. 

Beavers said, "It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. If you must interview a student before you greet the student, that's not acceptance—that's just absurd."

Publication date: August 31, 2015

University Institutes Gender-Neutral Pronoun Policy