The City University of New York (CUNY)-Guttman recently published a new guide for students that adds “zim,” “ver,” and “emself” to the list of acceptable “gender-inclusive” pronouns that can be used.
The “Gender Identity and Pronouns” guide tells students that the “dichotomy of ‘he and she’ in English does not leave room for other gender identities,” and to fix this, the guide offers a list of alternatives students may use instead.
The guide claims that possible alternatives include “zie/zim/zieself,” “vie/ver/verself,” as well as the irregular set of pronouns, “zie, hir, hirself.” To refer to a student using these pronouns, you might say: Zim drank a coffee, or perhaps, Alice bought verself a bookbag.
Students are encouraged to ask their fellow peers which pronouns they prefer, and the guide warns that “it is a privilege to not have to worry about which pronouns someone is going to use for you on the basis of how they perceive your gender.”
“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 guide explains.
CUNY-Guttman spokesman Bruce Lyons confirmed to PJ Media that the newly published pronouns guide has been used throughout the year on the school’s Manhattan campus to educate students and professors about the LBGTQ community.
“Pronoun usage is a basic way to respect one’s identity,” Lyons told PJ Media.
Students “can opt into one of the trainings that are held throughout the year that do discuss the importance of correct pronoun usage, and other important information, to support oneself becoming a better ally and support to members of the LGBTQ community,” Lyons explained.
He also added that the pronouns workshops have had a demonstrable impact, noting that students and professors alike have “begun to use their pronouns more publicly,” such as in “email signatures, on syllabus, in introductions on the first day of class, [and] name tags.”
“Pronouns are not binary so we wanted to share information, via the website, for our community to access some commonly used pronouns,” Lyons explained.
The CUNY-Guttman pronoun guide is one of many that have popped up recently on university websites, but this is one of the first that is actively being used to educate students on campus.
Other universities with similar guides typically just post them as online references, and students may or may not actually read them. Bryn Mawr’s website, for example, lists “co,” “kit,” and “sie” as gender neutral pronouns. Kennesaw State’s website, on the other hand, lists “ve,” “ey,” and “ne” as options for students. But neither of those guides are actively distributed to students, making CUNY-Guttman’s approach an outlier.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.