A push for gender-neutral pronouns across college campuses

Story by Kirsten Fedorowicz, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Deviant Art

When Harvard does something,  people start to pay attention.

In a September 2015 article published by CBS, the ivy league school has become part of the movement to include gender-neutral pronouns in paperwork and housing.

Gender-neutral pronouns includes terms like “ze,” “xe,” or “they.” These pronouns are to make students who don’t feel like they fit into the “she” or “he” category, identifying as genderqueer, transgender, nonbinary, bigender, or otherwise androgynus (falling between male and female) feel more comfortable in their academic environment.  

Another reform is in the bathrooms, which are typically divided into the male and female bathrooms. These male and female bathrooms can feel uncomfortable for someone who does not feel like they fit in either of those categories. Social media, such as Twitter, brings to light some issues. Hashtags, such as #translife matters and #wejustneedtopee, highlight the problems of people who identify as one gender being expected to be in the other gender’s bathrooms. Those who are cisgender (identifying as male and female, whatever they were born as) often feel awkward encountering a person who doesn’t identify as male or female in a bathroom safe space. Bathrooms are separated in part due to the fear of sexual assault within the bathroom, a prevalent issue on college campuses’ today. Due to the uncomfortableness of addressing this issue within the intimate bathroom environment, there haven’t been as many changes to the bathrooms as there are to rooming.

Some educators don’t agree with with the changes, finding them completely unnecessary in student health. Others disagree with the usage of “they” as usable to refer to a single person, or believe that “ze” and “xe” fall outside of the grammatical language we should be using.

These changes are issues tackled on campuses across the United States. It is a discussion that may soon affect Aquinas College, too.


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