A pronoun guideline document offered by Bard College encourages students to use the gender-neutral “Ze, Zim, Zir” pronouns.
Bard College’s “Pronoun FAQ” document instructs students on how to approach their transgender and gender non-binary peers.
“To create a gender-inclusive environment for faculty, staff, students, and visitors, Bard College encourages all members of the campus community to indicate the pronouns they use for themselves, if desired, in classes, residence halls, workplaces, electronic communications, and other settings, and strongly encourages community members to respect pronoun usage,” the document reads.
The document encourages Bard College community members to use gender-neutral terms like “folks” or “all people” instead of gender-specific language like “guys” or “gals.” Such specific language only serves to isolate those they may not identify by gender-specific terms, the document argues.
“A pronoun is a word used to refer to an individual or group instead of using their name (grammatically speaking, pronouns are used as a substitute for a noun or a noun phrase). Pronouns can be in the first person singular (I, me) or plural (we, us); second person singular or plural (you); and the third person singular (e.g., she/her, he/him, they/them, ze/hir) or plural (they/them). Some people go by just one set of pronouns, others use more than one set,” it continues.
The document explains the concept of non-binary pronouns and how they help individuals who identify outside of the “gender binary” feel more comfortable. The gender binary, according to the document, is a social system that encourages everyone to act according to a narrow set of male/female behaviors and expressions.
Non-gendered or non-binary pronouns are not gender specific and are often used by people who identify outside of the gender binary (the gender binary is a social system that provides only two genders and requires everyone to be raised as a man or a woman, depending on the sex assigned to them at birth). The most common set of non-binary pronouns is they/them/their used in singular. You may have heard these referred to as “gender-neutral” pronouns, but that’s not always an accurate term because many gender-nonconforming people see themselves as having a gender.
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