Universities tell students to ‘Practice with Pronouns’

Many universities are encouraging students to 'practice with pronouns' using an online tool.

'Never argue with or question a person’s gender identity or pronouns,' American University's Pronouns Guide states.

Universities are encouraging students to “practice with pronouns” because, according to the University of North Carolina (UNC)’s “Gender Non-Specific Pronouns“ resources page, “You can’t always know what someone’s pronouns are by looking at them.”

Many schools including UNC recommend the website Practicewithpronouns.com, which enables users to practice unlimited combinations of custom pronouns in everyday language, but the site also lists a number of “Commonly Used” pronouns to practice.

The purportedly common pronouns are “ze/zir,” “ze/hir,” “ey/em,” “ve/ver,” “ne/nem,” and “xe/xem.”

Below are some of the colleges and universities that recommend this website.

American University

“Don’t assume the gender of a pronoun,” American University’s Pronouns Guide reads. “[S]he/her/hers are NOT ‘female’ pronouns, and he/him/his are NOT ‘male’ pronouns.”

The guide states that sharing one’s pronouns and inviting others to do the same should be done to “respect the diversity of gender identities beyond man and woman.”

“Never argue with or question a person’s gender identity or pronouns,” the Pronouns Guide states. 

California State University, Northridge

According to California State University, Northridge’s “Why Pronouns Matter for Everyone“ pronouns guide, the use of gendered pronouns is “where our language can become triggering or divisive for folx whose gender expression doesn’t match their gender identity.”

“People may choose to use a variety of pronouns, including neopronouns,” which are pronouns that “are not indicative of gender,” and “could be used by genderfluid, nonbinary, transgender, or cisgender individuals.”

The guide states “there are no ‘male/female,’ ‘man/woman’ or ‘feminine/masculine’ pronouns. All pronouns can be used for any gender.”

Michigan State University

“Having people automatically use the pronouns with which you identify is a part of having cisgender privilege,” Michigan State University’s “Pronouns“ guide states. “If you are cisgender, sharing your pronouns and using the pronouns that someone asks you to use are powerful ways to be an ally to the trans community.”

The guide warns students to “not refer to a person’s pronouns as their ‘preferred’ pronouns or ‘gender’ pronouns.”

“Using ‘preferred’ implies that a person’s pronoun selection is merely a preference and, therefore, something that is not required. Using ‘gender’ ignores people who are agender,” the warning continues. 

Xavier University

“Introducing yourself with your pronouns is an effective way to be an active ally to trans+, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming folks,” according to Xavier University’s “Pronoun Resources” page.

The resource guide warns, “Never refer to a person as ‘it’ (unless they specifically ask you to). ‘It’ or ‘he-she’ are offensive terms used against the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.”

The guide additionally explains that “[o]ne way to show your support is to add your own pronouns in your email signature.”

University of Wisconsin-River Falls

“It is a privilege to be cisgender and not have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for your based on how they perceive your gender,” University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) “Gender Pronouns“ guide states. “If you have this privilege, yet fail to respect someone else’s gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive.”

The school’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging also released a pronoun “How-to Guide“ that lists conjugations including “Sie” and “Sir,” “Ve” and “Ver,” “Zie” and “Zim,” “E/ey and Em,” as well as “Per” and “Per.”

As with Xavier University’s guide, UWRF warns students not to call people “it” or “he-she,” further noting that, “Some individuals will reclaim these words for themselves as a form of empowerment. Do not reclaim these words for them.”

Campus Reform has reached out to all schools mentioned. This article will be updated accordingly.

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