College includes 'it' among gender-neutral pronouns

The Bryn Mawr College “Inclusion Center” recently produced a new pamphlet that adds “co,” “kit,” “sie,” “it,” and “ey” to the list of “gender-neutral” pronouns. 

The “Making Spaces More Gender Inclusive” guide, which is prominently featured on the Pensby Center for Community Development and Inclusion’s website, tells students that asking others which pronouns they use is crucial, as it’s impossible to “tell if someone is transgender, non-binary,[…]etc.”

[RELATED: College wants students to go around saying ‘ne’ to people]

The new pronouns are accompanied by a conjugation chart indicating how they might be used as a subject, object, possessive, possessive pronoun, and reflexive. For example, to refer to a student who identifies as “kit,” one would say, “Kit likes kitself.” 

To refer to a “co,” one would say, “Co knows” or “Co likes coself.” 

All pronouns have standard conjugation except for “sie.” To refer to a student who identifies as “sie,” one would say “Sie knows,” but the guide warns that “sie” must be changed to “ne” if used in the reflexive, as indicated by the phrase, “Ne likes syrself.” 

Though LGBT advocates often warn against using “it” as a pronoun, the Bryn Mawr guide doesn’t shy away from that, noting that students who identify as “it” may be referred to in forms such as “It likes itself” or “I ask it.” 

[RELATED: UGA offers how-to guide on using gender-neutral pronouns]

The pamphlet concedes that it is by no means an exhaustive listing of pronouns, and refers students to a Tumblr page with “royal,” “animal,” “nature,” “general,” and “non-English” pronoun selections. 

Such pronouns include “hu/hu/hume/humeself,” “zij/ze/zijn/zichzelf,” and “tey/tem/ter/temself,” and students who identify as animals can use pronouns such as “pup/pups/pupself,” “meow/mews/meowself,” and “spide/spides/spiderself.” 

Since pronouns can change “often,” the Bryn Mawr guide encourages that pronouns become a mandatory part of personal introductions. Further, it warns teachers against “calling role” from an attendance roster, as it “does not give much flexibility to ask [students] their pronouns.” 

[RELATED: College pronoun FAQ: regularly ask for others’ pronouns]

While learning new pronouns can be difficult, the pamphlet notes, “the best solution is to practice when possible.” 

The guide was released by the Bryn Mawr Pensby Center, which also coordinates the school’s annual social justice summit, as well as the institutional Bias Response Team, which notes that bias can be “conscious or unconscious.” 

“When bias is not conscientiously named and addressed, it can compound to create negative environments for those affected and/or can escalate into more overt acts of discrimination or criminal behaviors,” explains the Bias Response Team. 

Considering the juxtaposition of the Bias Response Team and the new pronoun guide on the school’s website, Campus Reform asked Bryn Mawr if accidentally using the wrong pronouns could land a student in trouble, but did not receive a response. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen