Blake Neff, DCNF
A small college in Vermont is kicking off the new school year by encouraging students to wear special pins declaring their pronouns, so nobody accidentally uses the wrong one.
The pins on offer at Champlain College in Burlington are quite numerous, and go well beyond the widely-used “he” and “she.”
“Hello, my pronouns are Xe/Xem/Xyrs,” one button declares. Another expresses a preference for “They/Them/Theirs,” even when referring to a singular person. There’s even a pin declaring “Hello, my pronouns are fluid. Please ask me!” available for those whose gender identity and accompanying pronouns allegedly change over time.
The many pins on offer are a result of administrators rejecting the so-called “gender binary,” in which people are exclusively classified as either male or female.
“We have a number of students who identify as transgender or on the non-binary spectrum, and about a week before orientation while we were pulling together materials, the idea just kind of came out of the air,” residential life director Danelle Berube said. “It just seemed like a no-brainer — a very easy way to make the first day of college for a number of our students maybe a little bit easier.”
The school says it has handed out hundreds of pins to incoming or returning students (who number just 2,000), and has even had to produce more after an initial shortage.
Sarah McNally, a student at Champlain, said the buttons were a valuable way of showing that rejection of the gender binary was a core value of the school.
“When you create a culture that says, ‘Hey, we ask people’s pronouns, we don’t assume them,’ that really lets students know that that’s the culture of the school, and they can either accept it or not,” she said.
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