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Opinion

UT's pronoun advice is no joke - well actually it is

September 5th, 2015 12:00 pm by Editorial Board

UT's pronoun advice is no joke - well actually it is

We thought we had mistakenly logged into the satirical website theonion.com ? the other day when we saw a story about the University of Tennessee. We read further. Then we Googled to find other sources because surely this story was some bad joke.

But no, UT has officially entered the Twilight Zone. It is advising students to stop referring to each other as “he” or “she” and to stop using such offensive pronouns as “her,” “hers,” “him” or “his.” UT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion says students should use the new, nonsensical, gender neutral pronouns of — we kid you not — “ze, hir, hirs, xe, xem and xyr.”

We’re not making this up, folks. Visit: http://diversity.utk.edu/2015/08/pronouns? .

At that URL you’ll find a communication to students from the director of the Pride Center. The Pride Center is what used to be known on campus as the OUTreach: LGBQ+ and Ally Resource Center — can’t fault them changing that name. But if you’re still confused, the Pride Center is for students who declare something other than a heterosexual identity.

The message from the center’s director tells students they “should not assume someone’s gender by their appearance.” Good advice. Caitlyn Jenner, for example, looks like a woman and identifies as a woman but continues to have the physique of a man, though some body parts have been enhanced. So, indeed, you don’t always know.

The message continues, “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.”

What? Students at UT can simply invent an identity and use other than their legal name? Or can enroll as one sex and choose another?

Well then, can they also “change” their race merely by declaring it? And if so, then shouldn’t students also be able to change their species? After all, if a student identifies as a humpty backed camel, for instance, should the Pride Center and Office for Diversity and Inclusion insist that’s his or her right? Oops, sorry. Guess we should say its, nirs or vis right.

Here’s how absurd this all is. The message continues, “How do you know what pronoun someone uses ... you can always politely ask. ‘Oh, nice to meet you, [insert name]. What pronouns should I use?’ is a perfectly fine question to ask.”

No, it’s a rather stupid question to ask.

As state Sen. Frank Niceley observes, “It seems to me the biggest lack of diversity we have at the University of Tennessee is people of common sense. Maybe we ought to go back to thee and thou for everybody, and that’ll take care of it.”

We doubt it, Sen. Niceley.

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