A students’ union is discouraging its members from using the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’, to avoid assumptions being made as to how people identify.
Sussex University students’ union has released a gender inclusive language policy, which applies to all its meetings, radio broadcasts, communications, societies and elections.
The policy states that preferred pronouns should be stated at the beginning of every meeting, regardless of whether they have been stated at previous meetings, and that gender neutral language should be used when the pronoun is not known.
The policy continues: ‘In situations where introductions are not appropriate or where an individual has not directly stated their pronouns, gender-neutral language should be used to refer to them, and no assumptions should be made based on presentation or appearance.
‘The gender-neutral pronoun ‘they’ should be used as opposed to ‘he’ or ‘she’, and the pronoun ‘them’ as opposed to ‘him’ or ‘her’.
‘Individuals whose gender identities are not known should not be described as ‘men’ or ‘women’, and inclusive terms such as ‘person’ should be used instead.
‘The use of gender-neutral language by other students in situations where pronouns have not been stated should be encouraged, although this is impractical to enforce.’
Anyone who suffers persistent misgendering is told to report their concerns to the elected officers, who will have gender inclusivity training as part of their role.
The policy also insists the person’s preferred name be used and their former name not be revealed.
It states: ‘Where an individual has a preferred name other than that listed on the database, that name should be used to refer to them. A person’s deadname should not be revealed and every step should be taken to ensure that this doesn’t occur.’
In 2014, the union marked a ‘massive win’ and a ‘great achievement’ when gender neutral toilets signs were placed in 75 of the facilities across the campus.
In December, Oxford University’s students’ union was forced to deny rumours it had banned the use of the words ‘he’ and ‘she’.
The union published a statement online, which read: ‘On the weekend of December 11th, several articles were published stating that Oxford University Students’ Union had produced a leaflet which told students “to use gender neutral pronouns such as ‘ze’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’”.
‘As far as we’re aware, the information which has been published is incorrect. We have not produced a leaflet implying that all students must use ‘ze’ pronouns to refer to others, or indeed to themselves.’
The union went on to make their support for trans students clear and say they would never force anyone to use a pronoun they did not want to.
Source: Daily Mail