On August 26 Donna Braquet, a gay rights official at University of Tennesse (she’s director of the Pride Center), suggested a new way to make their campus “welcoming and inclusive for all”: using a student’s chosen name and “correct” pronouns.
This is what she wrote on the university website:
“We should not assume someone’s gender by their appearance, nor by what is listed on a roster or in student information systems. Transgender people and people who do not identity [she means identify] within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth.”
Here’s how she thinks her suggested practice would work:
“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 name a student uses may not be the one on the official roster, and the roster name may not be the same gender as the one the student now uses.”
Imagine how practical and time-saving this method must be…
“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.”
She even provided a conversion table that shows students and staff how to use non-gendered pronouns. Her guidelines have been sent to the entire university.
(By the way, this conversion table shows how little she knows about grammar and linguistics. Coming from someone who works at a university, it’s kind of disappointing.)
An article on the Daily Mail says that her practice has received “a backlash from critics” and that a university spokesman said: ”
‘We would like to offer clarification of the statements that have been made referring to gender-neutral language.
‘There is no mandate or official policy to use the language. The information provided in our Office of Diversity and Inclusion newsletter was offered as a resource to our campus community on inclusive practices.
‘We recognize that most people prefer to use the pronouns he and she; we do not dictate speech.
‘We do strive to be a diverse and inclusive campus and to ensure that everyone feels welcome, accepted, and respected.’