#Diversity Lesson for Today: Gender Neutral Pronouns

#Diversity Lesson for Today: Gender Neutral Pronouns

It’s not a mandate! It’s just a nice thing do.

Please learn the following words: ze, hir, zir, xe, xem and xyr. I don’t know how to pronounce them, but it is our duty as nice people to replace all those terrible, no-good, negative gender associated pronouns and start being more sensitive to people who do have a gender, but apparently don’t want to be reminded of it. Here is a primer to get you started on the latest sensitivity training:


Besides, he, she, her, and him, are so passé, and of course Offensive. Progress people!


So this is the deal. The diversity crowd at the Pride Center at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville is asking students and professors to use gender “neutral” pronouns in order to be more inclusive and welcoming. Because it’s really a big concern that historical words and scientifically, anatomically correct pronouns for gender could be Offensive, and we wouldn’t want to introduce anyone to reality on such a large scale that might cause trauma.

In fact, just get in the habit of issuing your trigger warning along with your usual warm greeting (unless you want to be reported to the po-po):

Hello, my name is —-. I am a completely insensitive slob and really will mean no harm when you are driven to inconsolable sobbing (and perhaps even something as degrading as mattress dragging) because I forgetfully refer to you with the gender-correct pronoun associated with the gender you were assigned at birth. For that I will truly be sorry, and I hope you will forgive me. Phew, glad that’s out of the way. Want to go up to my dorm room and have sex? Awesome! Can you just sign this consent form right here? Thanks. I think we are going to be great friends with benefits! See, who said men and women can’t be buddies? Oh sorry! – almost went full-blown traditional English language jerk there by unthinkingly labeling you as the woman you are. Wait, “you” is ok right?

Yeah, I’m not joking. Here’s the suggested way professors are supposed to start class:

“Instead of calling roll, ask everyone to provide their name and pronouns,” she wrote. “This ensures you are not singling out transgender or non-binary students.”

Campus needs be welcoming and inclusive to all, and one way to do that is “to use a student’s chosen name and their correct pronouns.” Of course we won’t worry about grammar (see the singular noun/pronoun agreement? – no I didn’t think so). We’ve got bigger things to worry about, like


Come on ladies – the DROP OFF MOM TOO didn’t make you laugh? No? Well, then clearly you wannabe MILFs out there take yourselves (xemselves?) way too seriously.

But let’s get back to what matters. The UT chancellor for diversity and inclusion said:

“It’s about education. We are (a) higher education institution and exposing our students to a lot of different things.”

A lot of different things. Like things I’d prefer they find out on their own. For instance, at Duke University, things like this:

[A]ll first years were assigned “Fun Home,” a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. The book includes cartoon drawings of a woman masturbating and multiple women engaging in oral sex.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, now a Broadway musical!

Well, if that doesn’t need a trigger warning then I don’t know what would. Just put it in a plain brown wrapper is all we’re saying. You know, like Hustler. But they don’t have trigger warnings for immoral things – only things that could be “offensive or discomforting.” Human sexuality and exploring your options is not Offensive!

(Interestingly, Duke was not the first to assign this book as summer reading to incoming freshman – College of Charleston in South Carolina assigned it as “recommended” in 2014 and subsequently lost $52,000 of public funding for the summer reading program).

But, back to what matters, again. It takes barely any time just to ask people what their gender preferred pronoun is – I mean what’s the big deal? It’s just being a nice person. Like making bathrooms friendly and welcoming spaces for all people (maybe even at the same time). Everybody needs the bathroom! And also this saves water. Win-win.


But this is tough, so let’s take it slow. Just learn this lesson for today. Here’s how the UT diversity officer says you are supposed to approach someone:

“You can always politely ask,” she wrote. “’Oh, nice to meet you (insert name). What pronouns should I use?’ is a perfectly fine question to ask.”

Here’s my answer: You can call me Ma’am.


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  • Appalled By The World says:

    Welcome to Onion Nation, where headlines best suited from that paper are played out daily as ACTUAL news.

    “1984” has come alive. I guess it’s now time to change the name of this blog as “Girls” is not a word to be ever uttered again. Maybe even “Victory” is too offensive, as it implies that someone has to be a loser-we can’t have that!

  • Penny says:

    It’s time to rethinking sending our kids to college………..smhid

  • Micha Elyi says:

    The column in the table labeled “pronoun” should instead be labeled “possessive”.

    By the way, there is no need to invent a third-person neutral pronoun. English already has one. It’s “one”, as in “One must wash one’s hands before one eats.”

    • Jenny North says:

      Thanks for your comments. The chart comes from the UT website.

      Using the pronoun of “one” sounds a lot like “it” is the noun. While I’m not sure they would be happy with that, I think the whole thing is a big waste of time.

  • TwoDogs says:

    The only reasonable response to this nonsense ? “Fuck this shit.”

  • corwin says:

    If everyone uses gender neutral terminology,can we expect SAT scores to be equivalent among all groups ?

  • […] These may sound a little funny at first, but only because they are new. The she and hepronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze when growing up. (Via Victory Girls) […]

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