Students at Oxford University have been told to use the pronoun “ze” rather than “he” or “she” to eliminate discrimination against transgender people.
Guidance offered in a leaflet by the students’ union advises against using traditional pronouns, arguing that doing so suggests there are only two genders. Deliberately using the wrong pronoun for a transgendered person is an offence under the union’s code of conduct.
Peter Tatchell, an LGBT rights campaigner, has welcomed the move, telling Mail Online: “It is a positive thing to not always emphasise gender divisions and barriers.”
He said: “It is good to have gender-neutral pronouns for those who want them but it shouldn’t be compulsory.
“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.
“Giving people the ‘ze’ option is a thoughtful, considerate move.”
Cambridge University has also indicated that it would like to follow a similar path. Sophie Buck, welfare officer of the students’ 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.”
And Franky Sissons, a transgender student at King’s College at Cambridge, said: “Gender neutral pronouns are good…It should happen in lectures too.”
But Canadian professor Jordan Peterson, who has made a stand against gender politics on his campus, warned: “UK universities should resist this. Whole disciplines have become irretrievable from these doctrines.”
Peterson made waves when he released a presentation on the internet kicking back against the Canadian government’s plans to implement legislation amending the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to prohibit harassment and discrimination based on “gender identity and gender expression”.
At a free speech rally in October, the University of Toronto professor said: “The changes of the law scare me because they put into the legal substructure of the culture certain assumptions about basic human nature that, not only I believe to be untrue, but they’re also dangerous and ideologically motivated.”
The rally was targeted by transgender activists who tried to drown out the speeches with horns and other noise, while on campus he has been repeatedly heckled, and had his office door glued shut.