Culture Beat / Aug. 31, 2015

University of Tennessee Just Made Grammar More Confusing

Watch out for the Grammar Nazis.

If you’re on one of the campuses of the University of Tennessee, watch out for the Grammar Nazis. If the university’s experiment lasts longer than the first week of school, then those who enforce a strict adherence to the rules of the English language will do more than back a party line on they’re, their and there. “Transgender people and people who do not identify within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth,” the University of Tennessee’s Pride Center Director, Donna Braquet, wrote on the university’s website. She encouraged the school to start using a whole new set of pronouns — ze, xe, hir, zir, xem — to refer to people who wish to not identify with their gender. Braquet requested that teachers, rather than calling roll, instead ask each student to provide the name and pronoun he or she — or ze — wishes to be referred by. She says it relieves a burden for people expressing different genders or identities. “The name a student uses may not be the one on the official roster, and the roster name may not be the same gender as the one the student now uses,” Braquet wrote. As Hot Air’s Allahpundit notes, “I’m not sure I grasp the difference between ‘hir/hirs’ and ‘zir/zirs.’ Which one should you use for Caitlyn Jenner? One, I think, is for a man who identifies as a woman and the other for a woman who identifies as a man, but I’ll be damned if I know which terms applies to which. The whole point of this exercise, I thought, was not to make any judgments about gender based on appearance.”

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