As gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students become more prevalent and vocal around the country, questions are being raised as to whether universities have sufficient pronouns to address them.
The Associated Press has an interesting feature on the proliferation of new pronouns for those who don’t identify with the traditional he/she/him/her.
From the AP
Inviting students to state their preferred gender pronouns, known as PGPs for short, and encouraging classmates to use unfamiliar ones such as “ze,” “sie,”
“e,” “ou” and “ve” has become an accepted back-to-school practice for professors, dorm advisers, club sponsors, workshop leaders and health care providers at several schools.
Back in October, Slate
posed the question of whether gender-neutral pronouns will ever catch on.
They seem to be picking up at some schools. The AP gives examples of how the University of Vermont; Mills College in Oakland, Calif.; Hampshire College in Massachusetts; and the University of California, Berkeley, are giving students options that go beyond “he” and “she.”
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Bryan Lowder, who describes himself as a trans-supportive gay man, weighed in on the use of “ou” and the heated debate that surrounded it, dubbed “ou-gate.”
He has a suggestion until a better, more universal option is found:
As our society becomes more aware of and sophisticated about trans and genderqueer identities, they seems like a good and reasonable place to start with gender-neutral pronouns. More elegant options may be devised and debated, but only those that take into account the communal nature of language can ever hope to be taken up widely.
What do you think? Is it time to add more pronouns to the English lexicon?