The student union at Oxford University, one of the most prestigious schools in the world, has decided students must refer to each other with gender-neutral pronouns such as “ze” instead of “he” or “she.”
According to the Sunday Times, the student union is implementing the gender-neutral pronoun rule to “stop transgender students being offended.”
The Sunday Times notes that “deliberately using the wrong pronoun” to refer to someone already violates the school’s Oxford behavior code.
Oxford’s “University Policy and Procedure on Harassment” manual states “deliberately using the wrong name or pronoun in relation to a transgender person, or persistently referring to their gender identity history” “may amount to harassment.”
Under its “harassment” banner, Oxford provides students with specific resources for people who have experienced “racism or hate crime,” including a Hate Crime Network.
Peter Tatchell, a gay right activist stated the move is not about simply being “being PC.” Tatchell told the Sunday Times, “This issue isn’t about being PC. It’s about respecting people’s right to define themselves as neither male nor female.”
Other schools across the country are also enforcing similar policies. Sophie Buck, the welfare officer at the Cambridge’s student union, said, “Events start with a speaker introducing themselves using a gender neutral pronoun. It’s part of a drive to make the union intersectional.”
In America, the move to force the acceptance of gender-neutral pronouns has moved beyond colleges and universities. In New York City, refusing to use pronouns like “ze” can result in a fine of up to $250,000.