Pamphlets provided to students at Oxford University are asking attendees to be considerate of their transgender peers by calling them by the proper pronoun, ‘ze’, rather than forcing a ‘he’ or ‘she’ label on them.
The gender neutral pronoun of ‘ze’ is being called the safe way to label an individual if you are unsure of their preferred gender. According to Oxford University’s behavior code, deliberately using the incorrect gender pronoun is an official offense and could be punishable under the code, according to Oxford Mail.
According to reports, Cambridge University is also considering a similar initiative on campus.
Peter Tatchell, a gay rights activist for Oxford East, has stated that the usage of “ze” instead of “he” or “she” is all about respect for the individual and is not meant to be a negative on campus.
“The issue isn’t about being PC. It’s about respecting people’s rights to define themselves as neither male nor female.”
Tatchell went on to state that identifying that there is a gender beyond the standard male and female needs to be acknowledged and using the pronoun ‘ze’ is a great start.
“This issue isn’t about being politically correct or censoring anyone. It’s about acknowledging the fact of changing gender identities and respecting people’s right to not define themselves as male or female.”
Although using the “ze” pronoun seems to be respectful to transgender individuals, there is some debate as to whether it is respectful to individuals that identify as a “he” or “she” that might be difficult to distinguish from either gender. For example, a male transvestite may appear to be female when dressed in women’s clothing, yet may be heterosexual and identify solely as a male. It us unknown how that individual would feel being identified as a “ze” when he is not part of that gender identity.
Tatchell has approached that subject, according to Metro, stating that the pronouns should only be used after the proper pronoun has been identified.
“It is good to have gender-neutral pronouns for those who want them but it shouldn’t be compulsory.”
The new pronoun has left many Oxford University students confused, as it is aimed at preventing transgender students from being offended by the use of “he” or “she.” Yet, it may unintentionally cause non-transgender students to be offended in the process. For example, according to the Oxford University pamphlet, it is recommended that all students identify themselves as a non-gender specific pronoun, such as “ze,” until there is a comfort level that allows the integration of “he” and “she.” As such, all individuals would be grouped together without gender during initial meetings.
Although unity and convergence of cultures is a common sense initiative throughout the world, forcing gender to be removed from the equation until a comfort level is reached has become quite a confusing matter as the students of Oxford University are being required to conform to the new initiative, or fear being reprimanded by the university for disobeying policy.
Franky Sissons, a transgender student at Oxford University, feels that the gender-neutral pronoun of “ze” is a good thing and feels it should happen during all main events, such as lectures.
“Gender neutral pronouns are good… It should happen in lectures, too.”
Last month, Oxford University took the use of gender neutrality a step further and implemented gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, creating a safe place for transgender individuals to take care of their personal business without fear of choosing a label that does not befit them.
The Times of India shared that St. Catherine’s College is hoping to veer toward the same direction as Oxford University.
Pradeep Shetty wonders why Oxford University has chosen to offend the majority students in an attempt to prevent offense of the minority.
“Politically right gone wild. Why are they offending majority of hes [and] shes for the fear of offending a very small number of transgenders. Ironic. Isn’t it?”
What are your thoughts? Is the pronoun “ze” necessary in the path toward true equality, or does it prevent another level of separation that widens the equality gap?
[Featured Image via GrAl/Shutterstock]