KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee is encouraging professors to refrain from tired old pronouns like his and her, and embrace a range of new pronouns made up by people with abnormal gender identities.
A recent article posted by the school’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion pointed out by Local 8 tells instructors they should inquire about students’ preferred pronouns during class roll call, because some now prefer terms like “ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.”
“In 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 University of Tennessee article reads. “The name a student uses may not be the one on the 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.”
The University goes on in the article to suggest numerous gender-neutral options that don’t actually exist in the English language, but instead are dreamt up by those who don’t conform to the restrictive “male” or “female” gender identities.
“We 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,” according to the University. “A few of the most common singular gender-neutral pronouns are they, them, their (used as singular), ze, hir, hirs, and ze, 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 growing up.”
The suggestions, written by Donna Braquet, director of the school’s Pride Center were posted to the University’s website Aug. 26, along with a handy-dandy chart that breaks down how one should actually pronounce the make-believe pronouns.
The singular forms of they, them, and there are pronounced just as they are in their plural forms, while ze, hir, and hirs are pronounced zhee, here, and heres. Ze, zir, and zirs sound like zhee, zhere, and zheres. Xe, xem, and xyr are pronounced zhee, zhem and zhere, according to the chart.
The article sends readers who still might have questions to the school’s “Safe Zone” website.
“Safe Zone is a voluntary network of faculty, staff and students who believe that every member of the UT community should have an equal opportunity to grow and learn in safe and open environments,” according to the site.
“While issues related to sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression, have become more prominent in society, individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, and asexual people (LGBTQIA) continue to face harassment and discrimination,” it continues. “The program is designed to improve visibility and support for LGBTQIA students and employees.”
To that end, Safe Zone also provides and interactive map that directs LGBTQIA to a network of Safe Zone volunteers throughout the downtown Knoxville campus.
There’s even a tab to quickly find gender inclusive bathrooms, so LGBTQIA students don’t have to use traditional binary bathrooms.