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Pronoun badges for university freshers

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Edinburgh University student union officials will hand out pronoun badges to freshers so that they know what pronouns to use when referring to each other. The Students’ Association has published a guide to sharing pronouns which explains that assuming what pronouns to use based on appearance “can be frustrating and harmful.” Tim Dieppe investigates and challenges Christians to be committed to speaking the truth about who people are.

 

The Telegraph reported on Saturday that Edinburgh University student union officials will hand out pronoun badges to freshers so they know whether to refer to each other as “he”, “she” or “they”.

The university’s Students’ Association has published a guide to sharing pronouns which explains that:

 “it’s important to challenge the idea that pronouns are an indicator of gender, or vice versa.”

 

‘Pronouns should not be assumed on appearance' 

The guide also warns that assuming what pronouns to use based on appearance “can be frustrating and harmful.” It continues:

 “If we choose to make assumptions about which pronouns are correct, we risk misgendering people and/or singling out trans people who want to clarify their pronouns.”

“By normalising the practice of sharing our pronouns, we can all challenge the narrative that pronouns can be assumed, and create a safe and supportive community for trans people.”

Adopting a “don’t care” attitude is also criticised:

“Saying you “don’t care” about pronouns can suggest that trans folks are silly for requesting that their pronouns be respected.”

The guide even says that “preferred pronouns” are problematic:

“While the intent behind this is often good, the use of the word “preferred” can be problematic and so we’d recommend not using it.”

 

‘Gender is fluid’

The guide also states that it is “important to note that gender is fluid, and people may wish to change their pronouns throughout their life for a variety of reasons.”

On meeting someone for the first time, students are advised to share their pronouns and ask what pronouns to use. For example:

“Sorry, I don’t think we’ve met before. My name’s Sarah and my pronouns are she/her - how about you?” Or: “Could you just remind me of your pronouns?”

Kai O’Doherty, vice-president for welfare at EUSA said that “it is a voluntary system so if people do not want to wear them they do not have to wear them.” However, given that the guidance criticises a don’t care attitude, it appears that students may face some criticism for non-compliance.

 

How to respond?

One way of responding to such nonsense is by mocking it. A student in Michigan chose “His Majesty” for his personal pronoun as a way of ridiculing what he described as “this fantasyland of political correctness.”

Another way is to regard it as offensive for someone to ask me what pronouns they should use when referring to me. ‘It is not obvious that I am male?’ It is not clear that transgender students themselves are requesting the use of pronoun badges.

 

Enforced lying

At present there is no law requiring people to use artificial pronouns in the UK. In Canada, however, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-16 which makes gender identity and gender expression grounds for discrimination under Canada’s Human Rights Act. In New York you can be fined for not calling people ‘ze’ or ‘hir’, if that’s the pronoun they demand that you use. Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson has said that he would go to prison rather than be forced to use mandated pronouns. He is committed to speaking the truth rather than conforming to political correctness, and willing to pay the price for this.

As Christians we should be known for our commitment to speaking truth. This can be done compassionately, and lovingly, but also uncompromisingly. Jesus spoke the truth all the time, and attracted hostility because of it. The ‘politically correct police’ are looking to enforce lying about who people are with bullying and intimidation. It is time to commit to truthfulness in all our speech.

 

Links:

Telegraph: Edinburgh University student union officials to hand out pronoun badges at freshers' week https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/08/25/edinburgh-university-student-union-officials-hand-pronounbadges/

Edinburgh University Students’ Association guide to sharing pronouns https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/pageassets/representation/liberation/lgbt/Pronoun-Guide.pdf

Tweet from Kai O’Doherty announcing pronoun badges for freshers. https://twitter.com/EdUniVPW/status/1032608570154643456

Independent: Edinburgh University students to be given gender pronoun badges during freshers week. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/edinburgh-university-gender-pronoun-badges-transgender-students-freshers-welcome-week-a8511136.html

Jordan Peterson says he would go to prison rather than use mandated gender pronouns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35vOiOo-m_M

Washington Post: Students were told to select gender pronouns. One chose ‘His Majesty’ to protest ‘absurdity.’ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2016/10/07/a-university-told-students-to-select-their-gender-pronouns-one-chose-his-majesty/?utm_term=.1c895abc90a0

Washington Post: You can be fined for not calling people ‘ze’ or ‘hir,’ if that’s the pronoun they demand that you use. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/05/17/you-can-be-fined-for-not-calling-people-ze-or-hir-if-thats-the-pronoun-they-demand-that-you-use/?utm_term=.3b01530178c2

 

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