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He? She? Ze? Colleges add gender-free pronouns, alter policy

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Sep 18, 9:14 AM (ET)


(AP) In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 photo, Laila Smith, a junior at Harvard University,...
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BOSTON (AP) — Welcome to Harvard. Feel free to pick a pronoun on this form: _- He. _- She. _- Ze. _- E. _- They.

During the registration process at Harvard University, students are now allowed to indicate which pronouns they use, with suggested gender-neutral options like "ze" or "they." Harvard isn't the first college to embrace gender-neutral pronouns, but it's among a wave of major institutions that are widening their policies and pronouns to acknowledge transgender students, as well as "genderqueer" students, who don't identify as male or female.

"If someone is being alienated or potentially outed by inappropriate gender references, we think that's not appropriate," said Michael Burke, registrar of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

American University posted a guide on its website explaining how to use pronouns like "ey," and how to ask someone which pronouns they use. Cornell University and MIT offer similar primers on their websites. Ohio University started letting students register their gender pronouns this year, and officials at Boston University said they're discussing the topic. Last week, the State University of New York, one of the nation's largest public college systems, announced that it's working on a data-collection tool to let students choose among seven gender identities, including "trans man," "questioning" and "genderqueer."

Advocates for transgender students applaud the changes, saying it can be insulting to be identified by the wrong pronoun.


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Yeah,.....thats a bit too much yet.  We haven't even secured Trans* rights around the country, so I feel it is too soon to start trying to mainstream these (sorry, crazy) other pronouns.  It is too much all at once to throw at the public, at the congress who needs to pass several bills (and I hope ENDA includes us), and at the media, some of whom will take a report like Harvard's and make a circus sideshow.  I heard a right-wing pundit (read: idiot) talking (ridiculing) about our "LGBTXYZ" movement.  

Battles aren't won by running at the enemy in many small, disconnected groups across the area; it takes a high-level, coordinated intelligence preparation of the battlefield first.  We need a trans-law strategy at the national level and silly things like this Harvard story push us off our mark.

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